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Ken Voorhis

Ken Voorhis

Ken Voorhis

Ken Voorhis

Age: 52

Married to Jennifer Voorhis. Children are Bonnie Jo Voorhis, who just graduated from David Lipscomb in Nashville; Woody Voorhis, a junior at University of Tennessee, and Robin Voorhis, a freshman at UT.

Occupation: Executive director at the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont.

What was your first paying job?

“A newspaper route at age 10 or 12.”

If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you take?

“Assuming my wife is stranded with me, my guitar. I’ve played guitar since I was 17. It’s one of the things I enjoy.”

If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?

“Spend three months traveling around Alaska. I’ve been to Alaska once, so I’ve never spent a lot of time there. I would love to get up there and explore that place.”

What task or activity have you still not gotten around to doing?

“Some long-term mission work wherever the need would be. My wife and I have gone on shorter mission trips. I’d like to commit some time to doing that sometime in my life.”

What’s your favorite television or movie quote?

“ ‘Freeeeeeeeeeedom!’ from the movie Braveheart.”

What are you guilty of?

“Impatience. Growing up I always wanted to get to the next thing, and I got frustrated in not getting things done.”

What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?

“Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. It’s a place I’ve been to and unless you get out in it, you don’t feel the place. I love to experience the nuances of the Grand Canyon, and that seems to be the way to do it.”

What is your favorite material possession?

“My guitar.”

What are you reading currently?

“ ‘The Creation,’ by E.O Wilson, ‘Mere Christianity,’ by C.S Lewis and ‘The Best of Edward Abbey.’ “

Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?

“Henry Ford. The automobile has given us freedom but it’s also one of the major issues. It has had a pretty big influence.”

What was your most embarrassing moment?

“Losing a high school talent contest to Sheila and the Rhythmettes (an accordion ensemble). It was the most awful things I had every heard, and I lost to them.”

Why did you pursue the career you chose?

“I’ve always loved the outdoors and the natural world. In scouts, my buddies and I hunted snakes. We traded them with a local natural history museum (nature center) and then got jobs there in high school. People seem to think of themselves as separate from nature, and, in the modern world, that separation continues to grow. Helping people, especially kids, understand and appreciate their connection to nature has taken me on many great adventures in lots of cool places. It’s what we need now more than ever if we are going to live in a somewhat sustainable way on this planet. That is our role here, as I see it, to be good stewards of God’s wondrous creation.”

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?

“Determined, stubborn, intense.”

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“A fireman or maybe a vet.”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

“More tactful. Something I try to work on is thinking before I open my mouth.”

What is your passion?

“My faith, my work, my family…exploring wild, out-of- the-way places.”

What do you hate?

“Shopping, traffic and litter.”

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?

“Peter. He was there with Jesus but seemed the most real and human. I think he could clear up some questions I have.”

What’s your favorite quote?

“Whatever you are filled with spills over when you get bumped.” Indian proverb.

What is your dream vacation?

“A long canoe trip with my wife and kids with good food, good weather, music around the campfire and not seeing other people for most of the time.”

What is your favorite movie?

“ ‘Never Cry Wolf.’ It speaks about the balance of the natural world and our place in it..”

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?

“America before Europeans arrived. I wonder what North America was like before white folks got here, when native Americans lived here. It must have been pretty amazing but not an easy life. I wouldn’t want to stay long.”

What is your favorite sport and favorite sport’s team?

“Ultimate Frisbee. I don’t follow sports.”

What is the best present you ever received?

“My first camera. Photography is a big hobby of mine. My dad gave me a single lens Pentax when I graduated from high school. ”

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

“Don’t come home until the street lights come on.”

Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?

“Several times. The most memorable by my gym teacher for blocking a door so the other kids couldn’t get out of the locker room. Unfortunately, it was the gym teacher trying to get in. He swung the paddle like he did a baseball bat.”

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