Jonathan Schechter: Nature Writer, ER Paramedic, Adventurer
(Lara Mossa, April 2, 2020)
BRANDON TOWNSHIP, MI – When you ask Jonathan Schechter what he likes about his job, his quick response is “What don’t I like about it?”
Schechter, who lives in Brandon Township, is a Nature Education Writer for Oakland County. For the last four years, he has written a blog for the Oakland County website. His topics range from information about trails and wildlife to parks.
“I’ve always been into nature, wildlife and outdoor events,” he said. “It’s more fun when you’re writing about something you like than something you don’t…If you love something, it’s easy to write about it.”
The year-round blog, which he mostly writes from home, comes out on Fridays. A recent one is about severe weather, tornadoes and situational awareness.
Besides the Oakland County website, a link is available on the County Facebook page. On Wednesdays, the County runs older ones that are seasonally appropriate, Schechter said.
“The whole purpose is to emphasize there are lots of things in the county for people to get outside.”
Some of his more popular columns have included a piece about poison ivy in the winter he wrote last season, and red-headed woodpeckers he wrote about two years ago. Other topics have included coyotes and the massasauga rattlesnake, which is the only venomous snake in Oakland County. This spring, he plans to write about a new trail opening called the Michigan Air Line Trail in western Oakland County.
It’s impossible to run out of topics, he said. “There are new things happening every day and in changes of the seasons.”
An outdoor enthusiast, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate whether he is working and playing – and that’s a good feeling, he said.
Earlier this year, he walked about 10 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail in Baldwin, Michigan. The 4,600 stretch is the longest trail in the United States and runs from North Dakota to Vermont, he said.
He has done a five-day hike of the Appalachian Trail as well as the Golan Trail, which runs along the Israelian Syrian border. That one was particularly interesting, because there were active minefields on both sides of the trail, he explained.
In addition, he has hiked the 19,340 feet to the top of Mt. Kilamanjaro in Tanzania. Besides hiking and backpacking, his interests include kayaking and photography. Some of his favorite spots in the area are the Paint Creek Trail, Seven Lakes State Park, Bald Mountain State Recreation Area and Rose Oaks County Park.
Besides his part-time job with the County, he also works for McLaren Hospital in Clarkston as an emergency room paramedic, and as a lighthouse keeper at South Manitou Island, which is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Lake Michigan. A volunteer, he stays at the island from the end of May through June.
Schechter received his paramedic license in the early 1980s when he worked for the Bloomfield Township Fire Department. Averaging 12 to 18 hours a week as a paramedic, he does mostly triage, IVs, EKGs and splinting. With the rampant Coronavirus, he expects to be called for more hours. Besides the emergency rooms getting busier, the hospital has increased precautionary methods, he said.
Schechter earned a liberal arts degree at Goddard College in Vermont and a master’s degree in forest resources from the University of Washington in Seattle. His jobs have included working for Cranbrook Institute of Science and West Bloomfield Parks in nature education as well as writing columns for local publications. He also has done a monthly article for a magazine called Woods-N-Water News for 20 years.
He especially enjoys getting feedback from people who appreciate his writing. He has developed his own style and tries to keep it lively – putting the emphasis on the first two or three sentences.
The blog usually runs on the front page of the website, although it is not right now because of Coronavirus coverage. To see his columns go to https://oaklandcountyblog.com/tag/jonathan-schechter/.
“It promotes all the natural wonders of the county.”