Vincent Pinto

Naturalist, Ethnobotanist, Wildlife Biologist, and Wilderness Survival Instructor Vincent Pinto has been teaching people of all ages, interests, and backgrounds about the Natural World since 1987.  As a passionate Conservationist, Vincent strives to educate and inspire within a framework of Earth stewardship.  He has led countless individuals and groups throughout the country on nature adventures & educational programs on a myriad of fascinating topics: Ethnobotany, Natural History, Conservation, Bird-watching, Wildlife Tracking, Stone-age Skills, Wilderness Survival Skills, Astronomy, Wildlife Habitat Restoration, Earth Stewardship, Sustainable Living Practices, and much more!  Each day Vincent strives to build a lasting legacy devoted to the preservation of biodiversity in southeast Arizona’s incomparable Sky Islands.

Please click here  PDF to read Audubon article.

From a very early age, Vincent wandered, awe-struck, through the woods near his family’s suburban home in Philadelphia. Despite the looming city, he was blessed to have had hundreds of protected wild acres at his nearby disposal – the Pennypack Woods. There, he was free to roam the woods, fields, and thickets in search of excitement, discovery, and fun. Free to climb a tree, to get “dirty”, to balance precariously on rocks while traveling through creeks, and to generally run wild. Vincent’s early Nature rambles led to a lifelong passion for all things wild!

Though sometimes accompanied by friends in his wild wanderings, Vincent increasingly ventured out on his own during his teenage years. This was his outlet for expression and the fertile ground from which he would grow into a young man. Towering Northern Red Oaks, majestic TulipTrees, and other woody giants loomed above his every move in that sublime sylvan scene. Trees always overwhelmed him with their strength and beauty. Equally important, they let him know that there was a whole other world within and yet outside of the city where he dwelt. Thus, Vincent gravitated towards Nature from a very young age and was inspired by the amazing wonders of the Natural world. The strength and beauty of trees, the uses of the plants in the Pennypack, and the diversity of birds were key during his formative years.

Vincent’s parlayed his passion for Nature & the Environment into a Wildlife Biology B.S. degree. Soon, however, it was apparent that something was lacking in an increasingly dispassionate approach to conservation in this field. Therefore, after taking a 2-month wilderness excursion in the Ocala Nat’l Forest in Florida, Vincent eventually pursued a Masters in Environmental Studies, – with a focus on Ethnobotany. He felt a sense of urgency to do something about the fact that an uninformed public would likely undermine any efforts at conservation.

In 1987, Vincent brought his traveling Naturalist and Wildlife Biology Career to Arizona. While working as a graduate wildlife researcher at New Mexico State University, his study sight was in the Peloncillo Mountains straddling the border with Arizona, Mexico, and New Mexico. There, in that wild and rugged Sky Island, Vincent was responsible for monitoring the then-dwindling and state-endangered population of Gould’s Wild Turkey found in the remote recesses of the mountains. While Turkeys were his main focus, Vincent was equally fascinated by the diversity and uniqueness of the area’s flora and fauna. He felt as if he had woken up in Africa or some other exotic land! The Grasslands, Savannas, Woodlands, Forests, and Riparian Areas captivated him with their array of plants and wildlife, as well as their plethora of intriguing rocks.

As a Naturalist, he experienced many first encounters with some of the various species that adorned this remote area. Thus, he will forever associate the Peloncillos with such species as Gum Bumelia, Wild Cotton, Zone-tailed Hawk, Striped Plateau Lizard, and Sonora Mud Turtle. He truly was in a Naturalist’s paradise! There simply were not enough hours in the day to do justice to exploring the wilds there.

Vincent’s Wild Turkey research exposed him to many wonderful native plants. He diligently took detailed notes on which plant communities the Wild Turkeys frequented, the species and dimensions of the trees where they preferred to roost, and even collected bagfuls of their scat in order to analyze the range of plant species in their diet.

Vincent vividly recalls the evergreen woodlands of Oaks that seemed to defy his narrow definition of what it meant to be an Oak – evergreen and short/spreading in the Peloncillos vs deciduous and tall in the Eastern U.S.. Among the Oaks and evergreen woodlands Vincent might at any moment see a herd of Mule Deer or shockingly encounter one of the many Rattlesnake species for which the area is renowned.

Many species of cactus graced the Grasslands, adding a touch of Chihuahuan Desert to his experience. Heretofore his only cacti encounters were relegated to painful barefoot run-ins with the diminutive native Prickly Pear along the coasts of New Jersey (yes, New Jersey has cacti too!). Mountain canyons always promised memorable encounters with towering Apache and Chihuahuan Pines, as well as gargantuan Arizona Sycamores all of which gracefully sheltered his grateful body from the searing southwestern sun.

To Vincent’s delight, the much anticipated Monsoon season brought unforeseen lushness to all of the habitats where his research took him. It also heralded many stunning surprises. He recalls taking a midday siesta in his research trailer when a semi-truck began to pass by on the dirt road outside. About 10 minutes later, still in his half-state of sweltering slumber, Vincent wondered why the truck was in such a remote area and why it was still passing by. A glance out of the trailer’s window introduced him to his first flash flood! Large logs were being swept away in a muddy torrent that moments earlier had been a dry creek bed – all of this only a stone’s throw from where Vincent lay and beneath a blue sky that extended to the horizon in all directions. It had violently rained many miles away from his location and he was seeing the long-distance results despite the benign local weather. Thus monsoon season became and remains his favorite one in Arizona – full of surprises and burgeoning with life!

Yet even here in “the middle of nowhere” (the “middle of somewhere” to him!) Vincent saw first hand the destructive forces of humans at work. Much of the area was and continues to be overgrazed by excessive stocking of cows. This in turn allows for both rampant erosion of fragile soils and invasion by a number of non-native plant species. Badly-eroded dirt roads seemed to penetrate nearly every nook of the Peloncillos, creating an ideal situation for both poachers and off-road vehicles. There seemed to be an attitude of “there’s plenty more out there” in regards to the area’s natural resources and beauty. Vincent was inspired to take action and envisioned that the most effective avenue to educate as many people as possible about the world-class biodiversity of the Sky Islands was to start his own Nature Adventure & Conservation organization, – RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS!

The Turkey research eventually came to an end, but the Peloncillos merely whet his appetite for more exploration in the southeast Arizona. His next Sky Island exploration had to be the spectacular Chiricahua Mountains, which he had heard so much about, yet never visited. So in 1990, taking a brief hiatus from his work as a Naturalist in the Catskill Mountains of New York, Vincent embarked on a New Year’s Eve trip to this grand and remote mountain range. After studying their biological diversity he was eager to explore a place so wild that there were no lasting signs of humans.

En Route to the pristine Chiricahuas, Vincent was welcomed back to Arizona by several Collared Peccaries crossing a lonely road. Further along a Golden Eagle graced his view and further stoked his excitement to shed his modern shackles. So when he finally arrived at the trailhead,carefully chosen for its remoteness, Vincent was thrilled to see that he had this remote wilderness area to himself. His first solo Chiricahua trip was indeed a sojourn! Vincent’s literary Naturalist mentors, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and David Attenborough would definitely have approved!

As a passionate Earth Steward, Vincent committed to the protection of the unique biodiversity of the Sky Islands in 1993 by purchasing Raven’s Mountain. With relentless determination Vincent manages and tirelessly protects the unique, unspoiled habitats of this 50+ acre Nature & Wildlife Sanctuary. Set on a dramatic foothill of the Chiricahuas, Raven’s Mountain is backed by over 100,000 acres of protected wilderness. Vincent founded RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS the same year and since has worked tirelessly to raise environmental awareness of Arizona’s unique and diverse Sky Islands.

RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS is dedicated to educating people of all ages about the wonders of the Natural world while reconnecting them with Nature.  RWWJ always works within a framework of conservation, environmental stewardship & sustainability! Vincent is on a mission to educate as many people as possible about the world-class biodiversity of the Sky Islands through exciting hands-on & experiential Nature Adventures & Educational Programs in the region. With over 30 years of experience, Vincent has seen first hand how education is the foundation of any Conservation effort. RWWJ provides a greater appreciation for and understanding of the uniqueness of the Natural world. This ultimately leads people to take direct actions towards preserving and protecting Nature around the world!

Vincent has learned his unique skills through a rigorous academic education, countless hours of research & experimentation in the field, and via profound experiences in Nature throughout North America – particularly in Arizona – and the World. Having gained knowledge from some of the field’s leading teachers, he seamlessly imparts invaluable lessons to all of his students. Vincent believes in providing detailed one-on-one instruction to each program participant, carefully guiding them through exciting Nature-based adventures & experiences to maximize their enjoyment and learning. With over 30 years experience teaching Wilderness Survival Skills & Natural History in the field throughout the world, Vincent empowers his students with the skills they need to thrive and enjoy Nature anywhere on Earth.

Determined to further his Earth Stewardship & Ecological Conservation efforts in the Sky Islands, Vincent and his wife, Claudia, purchased a second Nature & Wildlife Sanctuary in 2008. Raven’s Nest – a 42 acre preserve by Patagonia Lake – allows Vincent to expand the reach of his conservation efforts to a wider audience. There he raises environmental awareness through experiential Nature Adventures & Educational Programs. At Ravenʼs Nest Vincent has set up a working models of sustainable Living practices, promoting alternative and environmentally responsible ways to live on our fragile planet. Each day he works to create intricate and resilient habitats where native Plants, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Insects can thrive. He actively practices: Organic Gardening, Composting, Wildlife Habitat Rehabilitation, Land Conservation & Restoration, Planting Native Species, Removal of Invasive/Non-Native species, Soil conservation, Xeriscaping, Local Ecosystem Management & Habitat Protection.

Vincent hopes to inspire you to embark upon your own Journey of Nature Adventures and Earth Stewardship. Join him for an unforgettable experience at RAVENS-WAY WiLD JOURNEYS!

EDUCATION

MASTER OF ARTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES: PRESCOTT COLLEGE, AZ, 2000
  • Focus: Southwestern Ethnobotany and Hunting & Gathering Cultures
  • Thesis: Southwestern Ethnobotany & Primitive Ways of Making and Using Fire.
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN WILDLIFE BIOLOGY: UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA, 1986
Tom Brown’s Tracker School: Standard Course: New Jersey, 1990

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) – Arizona

Teaches Wilderness Survival, Natural History, and Astronomy to Wilderness Medicine Institute pre-med students

The University of Arizona – Herpetology Class 
         Teaches Natural History, Astronomy, & Wilderness Survival Skills

Cochise College – Sierra Vista, Benson, & Douglas, AZ –
          Teaches Astronomy, Wildlife Tracking, Wilderness Survival, & Natural History

Embry-Riddle University – Prescott, AZ 
         Taught Wilderness Survival Skills

Circle Z Ranch (Patagonia, AZ) –
         Current Naturalist: Teaches Natural History, Astronomy, Ethnobotany, & Survival Skills

Audubon Society’s Desert Institute – Tucson, AZ –
         Taught Wildlife Tracking, Ethnobotany, & Astronomy

Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival – Sierra Vista, AZ –
         Guest lecturer & Field Trip Leader in Ethnobotany, Natural History & Wilderness Survival Skills

Wings over Wilcox  – Wilcox, AZ – 
         Guest lecturer & Field Trip Leader in Birding, Ethnobotany, Natural History & Wilderness Survival     Skills

Nature Writer – Arizona

Writes monthly Nature columns for the Tubac Villager and the Patagonia Regional Times

Me to We – Patagonia, AZ –
         Teaches Wilderness Survival Skills, Astronomy, & Natural History to visiting groups

Audubon Nature Festival – Arizona

Birding & Natural History Field Trip Leader

Green Valley Recreation (Green Valley, AZ) –
         Teaches Ethnobotany, Wilderness Survival, Wildlife Tracking, & Natural History

Friends of Brown Canyon (Buenos Aires Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, AZ) –
         Guest lecturer & Field Trip Leader in Ethnobotany

The Desert Botanical Gardens – Phoenix, AZ –
         Guest lecturer & Field Trip Leader in Natural History & Ethnobotany

Friends of the San Pedro – Sierra Vista, AZ –
         Presenter in Wilderness Survival Skills, Ethnobotany, & Natural History

Expert Wilderness Survival consultant for:

        Marooned w/ Ed Stafford, Fat Guys in the Woods, & other filming industry productions

Pueblo Grande Museum -Phoenix, AZ –
         Taught Ethnobotany & Wilderness Survival Skills

Friends of Madera Canyon – Saguarita, AZ

Guest Lecturer in Natural History

Tucson Waldorf School – Tucson, AZ

Field Instructor in Wilderness Survival Skills, Natural History, and Astronomy

Wintercount Gathering – Maricopa, AZ –
         Taught Ethnobotany, Astronomy, and a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival Skills Programs

Santa Cruz Nature & Heritage Festival – Rio Rico, AZ –
         Guest lecturer & Field Trip Leader in Ethnobotany, Natural History & Astronomy

REI -Tucson, AZ –
         Guest Lecturer in Botany, Tracking, & Natural History

Miraval Resort – Catalina, AZ
         Head Naturalist -Led a myriad of Nature, Ethnobotany, & Wilderness Survival Skills Programs

Arizona Game & Fish Expo – Phoenix, AZ
         Taught Ethnobotany & Survival Skills for the public

The Arizona State Museum -Tucson, AZ
         Taught Survival Skills & Ethnobotany for the public

Tom Brown’s Tracker School – NJ
         Guest Instructor at the Standard Wilderness Survival Course

Prescott College – Permaculture Class
         Taught Natural History & Ethnobotany

Western New Mexico University -Silver City, NM
         Taught Wilderness Survival Skills

Dona Ana Branch Community College – Las Cruces, NM
         Taught Wilderness Survival Skills

University of Arizona High Desert Conference – Sierra Vista, AZ
         Lecturer on Ethnobotanical and Wildlife Landscaping

Rabbitstick Rendezvous – Rexburg, ID
         Taught a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival Skills

Northern Lights Gathering – British Columbia
         Taught a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival Skills

Friends of Sabino Canyon – Tucson, AZ
         Guest Lecturer in Ethnobotany

Desert Audubon – Phoenix, AZ
         Guest Lecturer in Ethnobotany

Chiricahua National Monument (AZ)
         Ethnobotany & Wilderness Survival Presenter
         
Sharlot Hall Museum – Prescott, AZ
         Taught Wilderness Survival Skills

Smoki Museum – Prescott, AZ
         Taught Wilderness Survival Skills

Flowing Wells High School – Tucson, AZ
         Taught Wilderness Survival & Stone-age Skills to ROTC

Mission Montessori Academy – Scottsdale, AZ
         Taught Wilderness Survival Skills & Natural History

Prescott College Student Mentor (AZ)
         Mentor  & Guide in Ethnobotany

American Museum of Natural History’s Southwestern Research station (Portal, AZ)
         Wilderness Survival Presenter

Apache Grade School (Apache, AZ)
         Wilderness Survival Skills Presenter

Filming for “Travel Bug” TV series
         Consultant & on-screen Natural History Expert

Filming for “Buggin’ with Rude” TV series
         Consultant & on-screen Natural History Expert

Tucson Green Festival – Tucson, AZ
         Wilderness Survival & Ethnobotany Presenter

Pathfinder Ranch Environmental Education Center (CA)
         Taught a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival & Natural History Workshops

The Chewonki Foundation – Wiscasset, ME
         Taught a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival & Natural History Workshops

Appalachian Mountain Club – Gorham, NH
         Head Naturalist Taught Wilderness Survival & Natural History

Poko MacCready Outdoor Education center – Willsboro, NY
         Taught a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival & Natural History Workshops

Greenkill YMCA – Huguenot, NY
         Taught a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival & Natural History Workshops

Corinth Elementary School -Corinth, NY
         Taught Survival Skills as an in-residence, visiting Instructor

Several Teacher’s Conferences – NY
         Taught Survival Skills & Ethnobotany to teachers

Whiteface Mountain Native American Festival – NY
         Presenter in Wilderness Survival Skills

Fairview Lake YMCA – Newton, NJ
         Taught a wide spectrum of Wilderness Survival & Natural History Workshops

Pennypack Environmental Education Center – Philadelphia, PA
         Taught Survival Skills & Natural History

Churchville Nature Center – Churchville, PA
         Taught Survival Skills & Natural History

VINCENT’S OTHER EXPERIENCES:

  • Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Researcher (AZ)
  • Spotted Owl Researcher (AZ, NM, OR)
  • Wild Turkey Researcher (AZ/NM)
  • Reptile & Amphibian Researcher (MO)
  • Mammal Researcher (MD)
  • Wildlife Habitat Specialist (UT)
  • Marine Biologist (AK)
  • Substitute Teacher (Tucson, AZ)
  • High School Instructional Aide (Prescott, AZ)
  • Sky Islands Alliance’s Tracking workshop (NM)
  • Extensive Backpacking & Hiking experience in: AZ, NM, UT, CO, WY, MT, HI, CA, OR, WA, ID, MO, FL, PA, NJ, NY, NH, ME, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Botswana, Bolivia, Australia, France, & Italy.
  • Stone-Age Wilderness trips in Bolivia, AZ, NM, CA, ID, MT, PA
RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS HAS BEEN FEATURED IN:
  • The Sierra Vista Herald, 2012 – read articles under ABOUT US-  IN THE NEWS
  • Tubac Villager, 2011 – Tubac, AZ
  • Arizona Highways, Feb. 2003 issue  – in the “OffRamp” section
  • The Daily Courier -Prescott, AZ
  • The Press Republican – Plattsburg, NY
  • The Vermillion Flycatcher – Tucson Audubon Society.