Who is this Ozark Naturalist guy anyway?  Well, my name is Dan Swofford and I’m an Information Technology Specialist for Ozark National Scenic Riverways, a unit of the National Park Service and which I will nearly always refer to as "the Park" or ONSR.  ONSR was designated in 1964 to protect the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers and encompasses 134 miles of those rivers and approximately 81,000 acres. 

Being a computer nerd led me into the IT field, but most of the time I’d rather be outside looking for bugs, photographing wildflowers or wading in the creek.  I grew up 8 miles north of Van Buren (population 700 at the time.)  Our closest neighbors were 1/2 mile away and they were an elderly couple.  We had a black and white TV that got one channel and my brother and I spent most of our time outdoors.  We spent our summers wading and fishing in Mill Creek and Rogers Creek with our Grandmother, while fall and winter were for hunting squirrels, rabbits and deer and running a trapline.

My wife Dayna and I live with our dogs (a vicious pack of yorkies and a really cranky shih tsu) on 17 acres just north of the small community of Eastwood.  Dayna isn’t really an outside gal, but I’ve got her interested in kayaking, fishing and hiking.  She patiently (usually!) puts up with the crayfish in the freezer, bottles with insects scattered about and other miscellaneous things that seem to follow me home. 

My first real interest in natural history, other than hunting and fishing, was beetles thanks to an insect collection for my high school biology class.  From there I became a hard core birder and moved along to wildflowers, butterflies, salamanders, dragonflies and lately, crayfish.  But honestly, just about anything can grab my attention – a snake, an interesting mushroom, a pile of otter droppings – you name it.

I do spend most of my time in on the Current and Jacks Fork – they’re close to home, high quality and there is a lot of public land in the area – but I’ve been all over the Missouri Ozarks, especially in the last year.  I slip across the border into Arkansas occasionally and there’s one particular area of northeast Oklahoma (that’s the Ozarks too) that I really want to see.  I even make it into the *shudder* lowlands from time to time.  đŸ™‚

There are a lot of photos on this site, but I don’t consider myself a photographer.  I’m a nature nut with a camera.  I take photos to document what I find, not to create works of art.  If I take the time to think about it, I try to find a pleasing composition and get the lighting right, but many times I just get caught up in the moment and shoot photos.  I generally only post my best photos, but if I only have a lesser image to illustrate my topic, it’s not beneath me to use it. 

Ok, I’ve probably bored you silly by now, so I’ll stop there.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about anything on the site.  Now, come follow me and let’s explore the Ozarks.