From College Drop-Out to Ph.D.

My name is Seth Newton and I am the creator of OutMore because I have a deep love of the outdoors and I think everyone could spend a little more time outside.

I haven’t always been an outdoor enthusiast. In my early twenties I was quite lost and unhappy. I wasn’t a bad college student but with two years of college under my belt and no idea what I wanted to actually do with my life, I decided to drop out.

I worked odd jobs for a while just scraping by but one conversation with a friend ended up changing my life.

She mentioned she used to work for a conservation corps and could probably get me a job if I wanted. Not really knowing what it was all about but ready for a change, I enthusiastically agreed.

The pay was terrible and physically exhausting.

It was often very dangerous.

We’d be gone for days at a time and had to work long hours.

It was the best job I ever had.

Working for the conservation corps gave me a sense of purpose and a connection with nature that I had never experienced before. We were doing something good and spending time outside doing it. A lot of time outside.

Here is a picture of my crew and I (second from the left with long hair) on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The job was clear juniper trees that have slowly been encroaching on antelope habitat, resulting in a decline of antelope populations in northern Arizona.

We often traveled to remote places to restore habitats that have changed due to human influence. In the Southwest, many natural habitats have been drastically altered because we have been suppressing natural fires for over 100 years.

Working for the conversation corps, I learned the forests of the Southwestern United States are in an unnatural condition because they depend on regular fires started by lightning. Without those fires, they are overgrown and stressed.

After my time at the conservation corps was over, I landed a job with the US Forest Service as a wildland firefighter. Here’s a picture of me at a controlled burn on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona:

While I loved these jobs working in the forest, it was clear to me that many of the environmental problems we face today are interlinked. It was also clear that they won’t be solved with manual labor alone.

It was time for me to return to college. But this time I had a purpose like never before. I returned to study Environmental Science.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Science and was hungry for more. I took some time off to figure things out and travel around a bit to hike. Here I am on the Pacific Crest Trail at Goat Rocks in Oregon during my time off:

While I was searching for a Master’s program, I remembered some advice my professor once gave me: “if you really like environmental science, you should go to Sweden. They are leading the world in this area.”


Yep, Sweden. I decided to move to Sweden. Not only that, I moved to northern Sweden.

Here I am at Abisko National Park in northern Sweden taking some samples for my Master’s research:

I had been accepted to the Swedish School of Environmental Chemistry at Umeå University. I quickly found that my professor was right. The Swedes take environmental science serious.

After completing my Master’s in Environmental Chemistry, I transitioned right into a Ph.D. I loved going in depth into our environmental problems and Sweden provided great opportunities for me to continue.

I worked hard for four straight years to finish my degree. Here I am “nailing” my Ph.D. thesis to a tree (a Swedish tradition).

After my Ph.D., I was offered a Post-Doctoral position at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so I decided to move back to the US.

While I love studying the environment, I now spend my days in an office, longing to get out more.  I realized most people are like me – they would like to be outside more often because that is where we are meant to be.

I am now married and have a daughter who loves to get outside. Here we are camping in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina:

OutMore is about my daughter too. I don’t want her to grow up being part of the “indoor generation”.

I believe kids are meant to play outside.

It’s too easy to forget that we are part of nature.  We evolved outdoors and that’s why we feel at home there.  It’s too easy to let modern life keep us indoors where it may be more comfortable but we are not happier.  It’s too easy to let life get in the way of spending time where we really want to spend time.

That’s why I created OutMore.

Because everyone needs a little encouragement to get out more.

And because the world would be a better place if we all spent a little more time outside.