Staff Spotlight on Mike Riley

Get to know The Environmental Center staff, board members, and volunteers! We’re kicking off a new series of TEC profiles in order for you to meet the people behind our organization.

Mike superTo start off, the spotlight is on Mike Riley. You probably know Mike as our dedicated Executive Director – but you likely didn’t know he worked for the National Outdoor Leadership School, just finished reading The Sixth Extinction, and hopes to visit Papua New Guinea someday. Check out our conversation with Mike!

Where did you grow up, and why did you stay or leave?

I grew up in San Rafael, CA, just north of San Francisco. I left the Bay Area to live in work in Wyoming, for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and that took me to wild places all over North America and eventually to Kenya, East Africa. I love going back to visit the Bay Area–it’s a beautiful place, with a lot of open space and great urban happenings and diversity–but there are too many paople all moving way too fast.  And can you say expensive?

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

Riding my bike, sliding on snow, rafting a river, doing yoga, or lounging around on the couch between work, family and being outdoors.

What book are you currently reading, and who would you share it with next?

I just finished The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. I already knew about the rapid loss of biodiversity caused by humans. But I never really got it that this change is on such a scale that it will be part of the geologic record of the history of life on Earth and it may be humankind’s “most enduring legacy”.

I recommend it to everyone concerned about the future of our home, planet Earth. Kolbert is a great storyteller and despite the serious topic I was engaged and entertained until the very last page.  It’s a persuasive case for why we need  to transition, as rapidly as possible, to sustainable models of living and working.

Where would you most like to go in the world that you haven’t visited yet?

Papua New Guinea. Sounds like it is still pretty wild, in terms of people, plants and animals, and I have heard some pretty wild stories from folks I know who have been there.

What’s your favorite sustainable practice at home?

Turning off the lights my teenage boys leave on!