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Winter Speaker Series: Thru-hiking the Buckeye Trail - Things That Will Change the Way You See Ohio

Join Darke County Parks as we welcome our first Winter Speaker, Andy Niekamp to Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center on December 6th at 6:30pm. On an 88-day thru-hike of Ohio's Buckeye Trail, Andy "Captain Blue" Niekamp made the most amazing long-distance journey of his life. As he walked his home state through wilderness, farmland, small towns, big cities, rural and urban areas, he discovered Ohio in a way that can be only experienced on foot. Captain Blue's stories about the people and places, past and present will change the way you see Ohio. His beautiful photos and experiences will surely inspire you to hike the Buckeye Trail. 

Registration Required   FREE

Andy "Captain Blue" Niekamp has been a wilderness adventurer for more than 25 years. This IT professional, turned long-distance hiker has logged over 14,000 miles in more than 30 different states coast-to-coast including 9,500 miles on the Appalachian Trail.

Hiking is Andy's passion and his acclaimed "fountain of youth." He has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail end-to-end four times. While more than 10,000 have completed the Appalachian Trail at least one time, fewer than 12 people worldwide have reported completing the Appalachian Trail four times.

His other long-distance trails include: the Colorado Trail, Vermont's Long Trail, Minnesota's Superior Hiking Trail, Kentucky's Sheltowee Trace, Arkansas' Ozark Highlands Trail, the Ohio To Erie Trail, and Bartram Trail.

Andy is the founder and Chief Adventure Officer of Outdoor Adventure Connection, a backcountry guide service based in Dayton, Ohio. Andy has guided hundreds of people on backpacking trips that focus on backcountry skills, education, confidence, and Leave No Trace techniques. His company's motto is Live, Learn and Love Adventure.

Andy is the founder and organizer of Dayton Hikers, a hiking Meetup group. Under Andy's direction, the Dayton Hikers group has grown to be the largest and most active outdoor recreation club in Dayton, Ohio. He, with the help of forty event planners, leads hikes, organizes events, and plans gatherings and presentations for its 4,000+ members.

When he's not hiking, Andy volunteers for Five Rivers MetroParks, the Buckeye Trail Association and Kentucky State Parks. He holds an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems and a Master of Business Administration. He is a life member of the Buckeye Trail Association.

Andy is a popular presenter and motivational speaker. He is a sought-after resource for his experience, knowledge and expertise as a backcountry, long-distance hiker and skills as an educator/trainer.

His goal is to inspire others to get exercise, make friends, explore nature, live a healthier lifestyle and make their community a better place to live!

Later Event: December 8
Natural Wreath-making Workshop