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National Geographic survival host living ‘rich cultural stew” of adventure

OUTDOOR LIVING — Former Ferris High school science teacher, survival instructor, naturalist and artist Hazen Audel is spotlighting the skills of indigenous people in remote niches of the world for the National Geographic Channel TV series, Survive the Tribe.

My Sunday Outdoors story describes how Audel’s childhood fascination with snakes and spiders put the Spokane native on the path to hunting with bald eagles in Mongolia, dodging stampeding elephants in Kenya, hunting with blowguns in the jungle of Ecuador and learning to spear seals from a kayak in the icy waters of Nunavik.

This photo gallery offers a glimpse of the job Audel calls “a rich cultural stew of outdoor adventure.”

Ferris teacher stars on National Geographic survival series

SURVIVAL — Survival instructor, wilderness guide and former Ferris High School science teacher Hazen Audel is starring in an innovative series on the National Geographic TV series called Surviving the Tribe.

The program debuted this summer and the shows are available "on demand" if you don't get Comcast Channel 273 or Time Warner 166. Episodes already out indicate the program is going to restore respect to the survival genre that's gone Hollywood loopie with recent series.

Audel, a native of Eastern Washington, travels to some of the world's most remote tribal communities to learn how they have survived for thousands of years in the planet's toughest environments. 

He joins tribes in the rainforests of Ecuador, the Kalahari Desert of Namibia, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, the mountains of western Mongolia, the frozen Arctic of Canada, and in equatorial Kenya to learn firsthand the skills and traditions of these masters of survival. 

Audel already has made an impression in Spokane and beyond, as an artist and naturalist. Audel designed the Montvale Hotel sign and much of the interior metalwork in Steelhead Bar and Grille in downtown.

Spokane Mushroom Club members rubbed elbows with the star in 2008, when Audel joined their annual Priest Lake foray. Audel brought a cameraman for a science documentary to be shown to all high school students in the US.

"It was a very informative and fun film showing all types of nature including animals, plants, mushrooms, birds and more," said Lynda Foreman, the club's leader.

Here's an earlier bio on Audel from his video program roots on his Wild Classroom website.

Hazen received his Bachelors of Science in biology from Western Washington University. He has also studied botany and zoology at Eastern Washington University and Northwest Indian College, and has completed advanced studies in tropical ecology at the University of Hawaii.

Hazen works as an instructor for Outward Bound Outdoor Schools and independently as a visiting speaker. He is a public school educator, concentrating on natural history, rainforest ecology, and biology. Hazen's passion for nature is an integral part of his character. He is a "hands-on" educator.

He has been guiding natural history trips in South America since 1993. He is heavily influenced by indigenous people and has pursued interests in outdoor survival and primitive skills.

In 1998, Hazen traveled to The Malocus and Irian Jaya, Indonesia, one of the most remote places in the world. He carried out independent biology and ethnobotany research which inadvertently tested this survival skills. (Ask him about it!)

Hazen's vision is to carry out adventure education to both young people and adults focusing on awareness, personal growth, earth skills, nature, and conservation. Because of this vision he helped co-found The Wild Classroom in 2003, with fellow scientist and filmmaker Rob Nelson.

Class members remembered at Ferris reunion

In the fitness center locker room this morning, I struck up a conversation with a woman named Connie who had attended her 1971 Ferris High School 40th reunion over the weekend.

Out of a class of about 525, at least 31 have died, and the number could be slightly higher, Connie believed, because some there were remembering folks who were not on the official list of those who had passed on.

We had an involuntary moment of silence because 31 sounded like a lot. I think when we remember high school, we are all frozen in our prime, and so to imagine 31 gone, it seemed astounding.

My 40th high school reunion is in two years. I try never to miss reunions because I like to see how people's stories turn out. But they are also a good reminder of the passing of time and how much we should savor the gift of each day, each year, each decade, each reunion.

Recycle your tree for Ferris High School

The annual tree recycling benefit at Ferris High School is on Jan. 1-2 and on Jan. 8-9 - all days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During that time you can drop your tree off in the Ferris parking lot on the corner of 37th Avenue and Regal, and it will be recycled to woodchips for a $5 donation. The money goes to support the Ferris Senior All Nighter. You can also schedule a tree pick-up at your house for $12 ($10 for senior citizens) by calling (509) 536-7967 or by e-mailing cygloge@aol.com

Open house for Ferris modernization

There is an open house at Ferris High School on Oct. 6 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at which the public is invited to fiew and comment on the final renderings of the Ferris modernization project. Construciton is expected to begin in late spring 2011 and will take an estimated three years.
Spokane Public School staff and reprensentatives from the architectual firm will be there to answer questions.

Via e-mail from Kristy Mylroie, communications specialist at Spokane Public Schools

Noon: Ninjas Steal From Ferris High

Two suspects dressed in ninja-style black outfits broke into Ferris High School Saturday night, stealing thousands of dollars in electronics. Spokane Police are investigating the incident and reviewing surveillance video that shows the suspects inside the school. Images recorded at 11:06 p.m. Saturday night show the two suspects, dressed in black pants, black long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and wearing black masks covering everything but their eyes, walking around the corner of a Ferris hallway/Lindsay Chamberlain, KREM2. More here.

Question: Aren’t ninja outfits so 1980s? What would be more appropriate attire for the high school burglars?

What Would You Have Done?

At Ferris High School there is a daily news broadcasting show called FIN: the Ferris Information Network. The show essentially broadcasts the Daily Bulletin, which includes everything from sports updates to senior class announcements, as a pseudo news station piece by Ferris students to the entire school.

After every program a post-show is played as entertainment for both students and staff. The post-shows are student work that is created in the filmmaking and Ferris Information Network Broadcasting classes. Topics that post-shows cover can literally be anything. In my four years at Ferris, I have seen many different mini-films, ranging from a stop-motion adventure of a Lego toy who transformed into a full-fledged boy to an episode of a teenager being stalked by and eventually eaten by a trash can. Obviously, there is more than enough creativity for students to entertain their peers. However, not all post-shows are what is considered “school appropriate.”

The video attached to this article was not made by me. My friends who were a part of the FIN program made this to be aired as a post-show. The film teacher, upon viewing their piece, rejected the video as inappropriate. My friends thought differently.

In the video there are jokes made against homosexuality: basically, they had made fun of gay people indirectly in their film parody of eHarmony. The film teacher thought that it would offend students that were gay or possibly still “in-the-closet” students and that it should not be aired.

Needless to say, my friends were outraged.

Here’s the question: was the gay joke that big of a deal?

Was the homosexuality piece the only thing not “school appropriate?” Do you find any other qualities of the video that was offensive? What about the video do you think gives it reason to be aired or to be spared from students and staff, or in this case, Ferris High School?

What would you have done? Would you have aired it?