The Protector Chris Fischer
Back in 2000, while producing his high-octane reality travel show Offshore Adventures for ESPN2, Chris Fischer had an epiphany. “I realized that there will be no fish in the oceans if we lose our sharks,” he recalls. “They are the lions of the ocean—the great balance-keepers. If we lose them—200,000 sharks die a day for shark fin soup—then we are trading the ocean’s future for a bowl of soup.”
So, utilizing the forklift on his boat, Ocearch, Fischer started taking scientists along with his crew while shooting his show, allowing the researchers the uncommon luxury of studying and tagging 4,000-pound sharks before safely returning them to the ocean. “By gathering data, publishing papers, and then leveraging the research for policy change, we can ultimately help manage sharks back to abundance,” he says.
In the meantime, Fischer and his wife, Melissa, began thinking about having children and decided to follow Fischer’s brothers (Paul and Mark) from his native Louisville to Park City in 2003. “The same reason that our family started coming here in the first place—great skiing within an hour’s drive of the airport—is what made us decide we can live here even though I make my living on the oceans,” Fischer says.
But in 2013 Fischer began to second-guess his pop-culture approach to saving sharks. “You can’t be the fool on reality TV on Thursday night and then take the president fishing to talk conservation,” he explains. (Fischer has fished with President George W. Bush and the president of Panama.) To provide day-to-day shark-centric content, the Ocearch Foundation (ocearch.org, founded by Fischer in 2011) developed the global shark tracker. “It’s an open-source freeway,” he says, “so the whole world can track the sharks at the same time as scientists, knowing that they’re mating in Cape Cod or feeding in Australia.” Ocearch also provides K–12 programs designed around shark tracking, accessible for free by any school worldwide. “Kids are learning geography, the physics of movement, calculating how far the sharks are swimming, etc.,” he says. “So now we’re not only pioneering research to sustain the ocean, but we’re also leveraging a world-class, data-driven curriculum.”
But Fischer, an entrepreneur to the core, firmly believes in doing well while doing good. “I like bourbon because I’m a Southern boy, so a brewer in Nantucket is making Ocean Bourbon,” he says. “Three dollars from every case sold goes to ocean education: a billionaire impact on a workingman’s wages.”
The Earth Mother Diane Bode
The unassuming log cabin belies the peace, calm, creativity, and expansion of mind and soul that happen within. As 73-year-old Diane Bode walks you through her home and labor of love, Another Way School, you feel as if you’re being led by a poet, a spirit, a teacher, an intellect, and you try to keep up. Her small office overlooks the Park City mountains, her barn and horses, and the school’s training ring. Bookshelves are lined with educational tomes from The Wonder of Boys and The Gift of Dyslexia to books she’s written and illustrated herself: Faery Glimpses and Skiing Is for Kids (and those who believe in magic), based on a developmental model she helped create for the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) in 1988.
Sun streams through large-paned windows revealing warm communal classrooms harboring wide-ruled notebooks filled with cursive lettering; colorful physical manipulatives for math (her 4-year-olds are building three-dimensional forms); skeletal models for the study of comparative anatomy, movement, and drawing; and student-created, museum-quality beaded moccasins and brooms.
The school—whose core values are “All life is sacred; We are all related; and We respect and love Self, Others and the Environment”—enlightens a maximum of 25 children ages 3 to 9 via courses (including Spanish immersion) rooted in “the Native American way of honoring nature.” The nonprofit’s board is deemed a “tribal council” of artists, outdoorsmen, businesspeople, scientists, and horse trainers. The curriculum includes daily life-enhancing activities such as horseback riding, skiing, yoga, hikes, and living history led by Mountain Man Dick James.
Raised on a cattle ranch in California, Bode was introduced to horses when she was just over a year old. She grew up reading and riding and deeply aligns herself with Native American philosophies. (She also holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in education and American Montessori Society and PSIA certifications.)
The passionate energy she pours into her life’s work is mesmerizing. “I’m head over heels in love with the planet and the children,” Bode says. “Give me a child under the age of 7, and if a connection with the planet is established, she will be permanently grounded in the earth.” One of Bode’s favorite life lessons is the Cherokee tale of two wolves about the struggle between the extremes of chaos and war and peace and harmony. “I ask the children, which wolf are you going to feed?” she says. “My only purpose is to give and receive love. If you’re using your life for any other purpose, you’re feeding the wrong wolf.”
The Problem-Solver Patrick Harwood
While working as a Deer Valley Resort ski patroller at age 19, Park City native and Park City Fire Department (PCFD) Battalion Chief Patrick Harwood took the firefighter test on a whim. As he recalls, one of his coworkers said, “‘We’re going to take the fire test after work. Wanna go?’ I didn’t have anything else to do that night, so I figured, what the heck?” He passed and accepted a job, thinking that it might take him a step closer to his goal of someday becoming a doctor. “I loved Rescue 911 growing up,” Harwood adds. “My dad had an old first-aid book, and I was always fascinated by the injuries. As a kid, I’d build hearts and organs with my modeling clay.”
From his first fire, Harwood was hooked on firefighting. “I like the strategy and tactics of being part of the resolution to a problem,” he says. But he sees his job as battalion chief as more about leadership: “It’s working with personalities, inspiring and motivating teams, and enforcing our district’s values and vision. PCFD has given me so much. My values and experiences are due to the people I’ve worked with in the organization that raised me. I want to give back and pass on what I’ve learned to others.”
The Rockport Fire of 2013 is the largest Harwood has managed so far, having burned more than 100,000 acres. “It was a wake-up call for me to have guys I’m directly responsible for heading out to ridgetops and into full flame. The wind was howling; the fire was growing; phones were ringing off the hook,” he recalls. “But I took great comfort in knowing who my team was. We’re a family-based organization. We take care of each other.”
Harwood laughs at himself, saying his crew would probably say that he’s nice to a fault. He says the guys tease him about “my big, toothy smile [infectious, by the way] and my penchant for loving things that are completely out of style, like the dying sport of windsurfing, ’80s music, and artsy stuff like playing the piano and watching rom coms and those house-flipping shows on HGTV.”
In the end, though, the department thrives on mutal respect. “Members of the fire department truly care about their jobs, and when the tones go off, everyone gives their all,” Harwood says. “Care for the people we serve is always the highest priority.”