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Living Off the Land in Alaska with Pete Griffin

November 11, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Pete Griffin is the author of Stories of a Forest Ranger and Rafts, Raccoons, and Revelations. Signed copies of these books will be available at the presentation.

Alaskans living off the land is a romantic notion that is much more difficult than what one is led to believe. Pete Griffin, speaker, storyteller, naturalist, and retired Forest Service Ranger will visit the Hessel School House on Saturday, November 11 at 1:00 PM to deliver personal stories, photos, and short videos about living off the land in Alaska. This free presentation is part of the Connecting with Nature lecture series made possible by a grant from The Americana Foundation.

To reserve your seat for this special presentation, call the Hessel School House at 906-484-1333 or register online.


Pete Griffin was born in a two-room log cabin with no running water just southeast of Cedarville in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula–within a hundred yards of the Lake Huron shoreline.  When his dad returned home from the Army in 1953, the small family moved from cabin to cabin in the Eastern U.P. as his Dad followed work opportunities.  Young Pete spent a lot of time exploring in the woods and along the shores of the St. Mary’s River and Lake Huron inventing imaginary friends when he had no one to play with.

With few exceptions, Pete’s formative years through age 23 were spent in the immediate vicinity of that little corner of Lake Huron.  Water formed an important aspect of his life, whether fishing for trout in the many small creeks that emptied into the big lake or fishing for perch and herring in the protected bays and channels of the Les Cheneaux Islands.

Pete says, “My family, my parents, aunts and uncles, and my grandparents did not seem out of the ordinary as I grew up.  But I came to find they all had their own stories, unique stories that all too often I discovered all too late in life.”

An introvert, he felt most comfortable on his own out in the woods or on the water rather than with others. A career in the woods made sense to him, a job where he could be alone all day and never have to talk to another person.  Griffin enrolled in a wildlife biology program at nearby Lake Superior State College in Sault Ste Marie.  I was graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.

Following graduation in 1974, he was hired by the US Forest Service on the Huron-Manistee National Forest in Lower Michigan.  In 1987Pete transferred to the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota with his wife, Kathy, and thjeir two young children.  In 1992, we left the Midwest for Ketchikan, Alaska.  In 1999 Pete was selected as the Juneau District Ranger in Alaska’s state capital.

Griffin began Tongass Trails, a weekly five-minute natural history essay on public radio that ran several years in Juneau. In these essays, Pete included his experiences and observations from younger years growing up on the shores of Lake Huron.  It was that personal touch, the short anecdotes included in the recordings that captured the listeners’ imaginations and Griffin was awarded the D. Robert Hakala Excellence in Interpreter and Conservation Education Award by the Forest Service in 2006.

Griffin retired in June 2010, concluding a 35-year career as wildlife biologist and ranger.


November 11, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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Hessel School House – Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center
3206 West Cedar Street
Hessel, MI 49745 United States
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