Jim O’Donnell is the author of Notes for the Aurora Society: 1500 Miles on Foot across Finland and numerous articles and short stories. Jim’s work explores how people and ecosystems adapt to changes – either forced or chosen. His work has appeared in National Geographic Maps, Discover, Scientific American, Ensia, Sapiens, BBC Travel, Sierra, CityLab, New Mexico Magazine, and YaleEnvironment360, among others. He is a Fellow at the International League of Conservation Writers.

Jim is a long-time wilderness advocate in the American Southwest where he works to protect and restore wetlands and watersheds. For his work, Jim has received numerous awards including the KTAO Environmental Achievement Award and the SimpleChange Award for Environmental Stewardship. In 2015 he held the Jack Williamson Endowed Chair for Literature at Eastern New Mexico University. He teaches a once-a-year nature writing course in Taos, New Mexico. Learn about the next course here.

Jim is also a noted conservation and travel photographer. As a visual storyteller he explores the relationship between people and their environment from Haiti to India to Europe and the American West. Today, he leads yearly photography tours to Cuba. Learn about the next tour to Cuba here.

Jim earned both his Bachelor’s in Anthropology and his Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico.



“What a blessing it was to take time out for focused, creative time that took us out of ourselves and our schedules.  I enjoyed, and benefited from, the balance of information, observation and exercises.” – Marylinn

“I really enjoyed Jim’s class and learned a lot.  I thought his class was very well organized and the exercises were interesting.” – Phaedra

 “What I liked about your class is that you kept it interesting and on topic. Something I greatly appreciate. It moved along and scattering lecture with exercise kept it lively. I also found your attitude and smile engaging and relaxing, even though you challenged us I never felt any judgment coming from you. Thank you.” – Jo

“Such a pleasure absorbing every moment of being in the natural world in such a unique way. Every exercise was a treasure. The class was a joy.”  – Susan