Many of us have a bucket list of places to explore in the world full of adventures we hope to experience through the school of traveling. Our latest Urban Beardsman is not only a pro at checking off the list, but motivates others to fulfill their own. Hazen Audel is an expert in adventure education with a passion for nature so genuine, he hopes his experiences can inspire others to see the world through a different lens. His playful persona mixed with an eighteen-year resume as an outdoor guide (along with a bachelor’s degree in biology) landed him his own TV show; scheduled to premier on the National Geographic channel this summer.
In speaking to Audel, you instantly notice a warm and friendly tone you can’t help being drawn in to. He begins to tell me a little about how he carved his own path in life, and credits his father for initiating his curiosity about the world. “I’ve always gone against the grain a bit and marched to my own drum. My dad was that way and followed his passions. He built hot rods for a living and was always able to support my family self-employed. He paved the way for me to do the same.”
As a native in Eastern Washington, Audel was always fascinated with nature. At the age of nineteen he felt a strong calling to travel and experience other sides of the world. He went to South America for what initially intended to be a three-month trip, and shares, “I ended up staying for nine months—when you follow your heart things just happen like that. I ended up living with indigenous people in the rain forest, learned their language, and they became like a family to me. That was my first introduction into cultures different from ours. It also gave me some indication and self-confidence that I could do my own thing. You need to go through those experiences in life to understand what you’re capable of.”.
After coming back to Washington, Audel went to school for another two semesters, but had a lingering desire to return to South America. “I couldn’t bare being away from there, so I went back for a few months and continued to do that once a year. That helped me acquire the knowledge needed to help others see I what I was fascinated with, so I became a rain forest guide and did that for ten years.”
Aside from his travels to South America, Audel still made time back in Washington to earn a bachelors degree in biology. He reveals, “I got really lucky that things fell into place. I’m also one of the only people in my family to go to college, which felt great to accomplish. Later I was invited to do my graduate studies in tropical ecology at the university of Hawaii—from there that enabled me to travel to other places throughout the world like Southeast Asia and remote parts of the South Pacific.”
Audel’s appreciation for the ways traditional people in other parts of the world survive inspired him to share his findings with others—especially the youth. He became a high school biology teacher for ten years and states, “I really enjoy my relationship with my students. I think my ability to connect with my kids has brought something different to the table. I work really hard to try and show them why I’m so passionate about nature. There’s not really any mentors showing us about nature anymore and I want to enable people to see the world the way I do.”
When he’s not traveling the world and sharing his learning’s, Audel has also been a successful artist over the last ten years—specializing in architectural sculptures. He sold his first major metalworking art installation to a Washington resort and casino, but instead of taking the commission and “running”, he invested it in more equipment and supplies to continue making his art. He prides his lifestyle on being self-sufficient, and utilizing natural resources to their full potential has always been his mantra. “You’ve got to stimulate your mind and body everyday, being active is part of my lifestyle, I don’t lift weights because I can work out in nature,” Audel says. He can often be found hiking for food, to climbing trees (swinging from branches) and doing a few pull-ups on the side. “I’m very young spirited and often described as a professional kid,” he admits.
As in tune as he is with the outdoors, Audel’s beard also reflects the seasons. “I always have some form a shadow, but every winter I grow a beard, and in the summer I love having the sun on my face so I trim it back. This winter I had a fuller beard and I’ve have received some favorable response from the ladies. It’s definitely nice to get compliments on it, so I keep it around. I think it’s important to have confidence, be a gentleman, and express yourself other than what society tells you to do” he states.
As you can imagine, Audel never has a typical day, but as of late he shares, “right now, I’m just focusing on the upcoming television show for National Geographic, so I’m doing a lot of research and getting prepared for each new episode. It seems like I’m gone for three weeks at a time at another country, so it can be hard to catch up on bills and things.” Ironically he admits he stopped watching television ten years ago, but with so many awesome adventures to be had outdoors, when would he have the time anyway?
Audel may have a lot to juggle, but explains he’ll always want to be some type of mentor and continue to teach at a high school or university level. “Creating my art is also always going to be in my life. I’m still doing a lot of artwork and that’s taking a lot on. I’m also working on building my own house when I have the time. I want to find someone to spend the rest of my life with—that’s also a big thing,” he confesses.
An inspiration to follow your heart and enjoy life’s adventures, Audel is a natural renaissance man that deserves all the success to come… and although the only time he’ll spend with a TV is in front of the camera, we’ll definitely be tuned in on the opposite end—excited for his show to air this summer!