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If you like Susan Butcher's story, you might also like:
Sylvia Earle,
Jane Goodall,
Dorothy Hamill,
Edmund Hillary
and Craig McCaw

Susan Butcher also appears in the videos:
You Can Do Anything,
Risk-Taking: An Ingredient for Success

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Susan Butcher
Susan Butcher
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Susan Butcher Interview

Champion Dog-Sled Racer

June 29, 1991
New York, New York

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  Susan Butcher

When did you know that you wanted to live some place like Eureka, Alaska?

My first memories are not of knowing anything about Alaska, but of wanting to live in the wilderness, loving the country, and at that time, at least in my youth when I was in a city, hating city life. I really didn't get along well with what I saw going on in the cities. I thought it was bad for society. I thought it was unhealthy for individual humans. I thought it was especially unhealthy for my dog. And so I always knew that I loved country life, and the farther the wilderness, the better.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

You wrote an essay at the age of eight: "I Hate the City." Tell us about that.

In the first grade, my mother saved those two-liners that I did on these big pieces of paper that said, "I hate the city. I love the country." As I got a little bit more sophisticated, they became compositions explaining what was negative about society that had created these cities, and what was positive about country life, and how it kept the stress off of people and animals living in the country. It was really interesting that I would have those thoughts so strongly.

How do you account for that, at such a young age?

It is interesting. It does not come from my family.

I feel that we are born with things that are really innate in us. I was born with a very strong love for animals and a sense from that. Animals of course were initially living in the wilderness. So from that, wanting to get back -- not so much "get back to nature," but to get back to seeing where our instincts come from, where we came from. What was really going on in man, other than what you could be taught in school.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

What were you like in school? What were you like as a kid?

I am dyslexic. Not severely, but enough so that it caused me trouble in school. I was very good at mathematics and sciences. So I was a good student on one hand, although I was the typical student with a learning disability who fidgeted a lot, and wanted to be doing things more physically, including the way I have learned to learn. If I visualize it, if I can watch somebody doing it, or understand it that way, it's much better than book learning for me.

Who was important to you, early in your life?

I could not find role models that I liked. There were people who were adventurers, who had done wonderful things, but one, they were all men, and not that that kept them from being my role model, but they also were perhaps doing it for different reasons. I couldn't find people that were doing what I wanted to be doing for the reasons I felt I wanted to be doing them. I would say someone probably like Jane Goodall certainly caught my attention. People like that. I was frustrated with the lack of female role models as a child, and wondered why I wanted to do so many things that at time weren't very typical for a woman to be doing. And so, I think I had to learn at about 15 that I was going to have to set my own path.

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This page last revised on Feb 28, 2011 18:30 EDT
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