Jeff Corwin on parenting and nature



Jeff Corwin has dedicated his life to traveling the world in search of animals. But Corwin, the host of Animal Planet's "Corwin's Quest" and the upcoming Food Network show, "Extreme Cuisine," is more than just an environmental conservationist, television host and author (he has a children's book series, The Junior Explorers, and an adult book, 100 Heartbeats, out later this month). He's a dad.

Corwin talked with Chicago Parent about his projects, today's kids and how he juggles life on the road away from his wife, Natasha, and two daughters, Maya Rose, 6, and Marina, 1, for 10 months of the year.

Chicago Parent: What do you want today's kids to know?

Jeff Corwin: I want kids to be connected to nature. To me, there is nothing more exciting and unpredictable than the truly exciting, unpredictable world of nature. There are so many life lessons that can be gleaned from exploring and discovering.

CP: You spend a lot of time on the road. How do you balance your love of animals with love for your family?

JC: Being on the road isn't easy and you have to make the most out of time. For me, I try very hard to bring my kids into the field and be a pro-active parent. ... I think it's important that I give them everything I have, but a lot of the work I do, I do it not only because I love nature and I love exploration, but I do it because as a conservation biologist, I want to make sure they inherit a world that is as biologically rich and healthy as the one I have.

CP: What do you find to be the most joyful part of life with your daughters?

JC: My job as a parent is to give them the tools to survive, just like an animal parent would do, to survive tough times and to deal with obstacles and to get over those obstacles and to deal with jeopardy and survive jeopardy. … You invest in your kids, and to see that pay off is, to me, exciting.

CP: Has their dad's love of snakes rubbed off on them?

JC: My oldest daughter loves turtles. I think the youngest one, what she loves is measured in whether she can eat it or not. She's become an incredible bug hunter in our house and she walks around on all fours and, God help any wayward millipede or ladybug or whatever; she sees it, she'll grab it.


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