My Story

Steve Madewell

I have been working in the outdoor field for a long time and happen to think it is pretty important work.  

My pop has had a tremendous influence on me.  When he was younger he had great gardens, was an active hunter and fisherman and foraged wild food from along the roadways and woodlots of SW Ohio.  He interacted with nature.  

I remember when I was about 12, Dad sitting in a folding lawn chair holding a new "No Deposit No Return" Pepsi bottle and saying "This makes no sense."

I also recall riding in the car as he pointed out sub divisions and shoping malls and talked how he used to hunt quail and rabbits in those fields.   

He has always had a knack for sharing simple but profound observations.  

It never occurred to me that you could work in the recreation/conservation field.  The men in my family were mostly factory workers or farmers with the occasional sales-man.  I recall one preacher, but that was about it.  

Long story short, the powerful observations my dad shared with me and those experiences that we shared hunting, fishing and camping set the stage for me to enjoy a remarkable career and enjoy experiences that I could have never imagined as a young man.  

So on to the story of my day gig.

I have been the director or 3 of the 10 largest park districts in Ohio and been involved with millions of dollars of land acquisitions and development projects.  

I have links to several of the organizations that I have worked with posted on this web site.

The diversity and influence of the people I have had the priviledge of knowing and working with is staggering, multi-millionaires, local, state, federal and foriegn officials.  

For a person who grew up in a small agricultural village, all the tours, trips and deals I have been a part of are nearly unbelievable.

I have been involved with a list of "first of" projects that could have easily been the capstone of a career accomplishment, but that is another story...  

Was my career the result of good luck, hard work, persistence or being at the right place at the right time?  I suppose it was a combination of all of these things but I always felt this career path was more of a calling. 


There have been a host of factors contributing to my life path including a tremendous educational experience at the Western College of Miami University.  This altered my world view, thoughts on education, creative thinking and approach to problem solving.  And I have mentioned the inspiration from educators, entrepreneurs, conservationist and other mentors. 

I do have some brilliant women in my life.  My daughters and my wife are three of the most well read and intelligent people that anyone could hope to know.  They have fed me a steady diet of books, magazine and internet publications about parks, recreation, conservation, spirituality and the environment.  

They have often insisted that I read and discuss the information with them.  This was agumented by my brother-in-law who was a buyer for several publishing companies.  He would send ecology books to me by the box.  

ANd there is my son who was born with an old soul.  He has a pragmatic view of the world and told me when he was 11 or 12, "Everyday is a great day if you just get outside".  So Philip has been a source of insight all on his own...

Oh yes they are always sharing music with me!

I have been and continue to be a simple person surrounded by remarkable people, who for some reason have believed in my ability to influence things.  

I didn't have a choice in the matter.

My conservation and recreation work was what I had to.  And with each day I recognize just how this is remarkably important work.


In this ever changing world, with ecological issues, war, the uncertainty of climate change, the effects of pollution and on and on... I have seen the importance values and experiences that parks and open space provide to people.  

Every day people come to parks to mourn losses, celebrate life, love and family, enjoy nature, exercise and seek spiritual insight.  

People need this.  We all need this.

Of course there are the tremendous ecological miracles that are in constant motion within the natural systems of protected open spaces.  


Another source of motivation for me has the people that I have worked for and with.  

As a rule the people in this field are incredibly dedicated and will work and work and work to do what they believe in.

They are often under compensated and over-worked.  Such is the nature of our field.

I apprecieate this and love their dedication.   

I work for them as well as the people who use the parks and explore nature.

And of course there is the inspiration of the world around us.  It's beautiful, magical, frightening and generally beyond comprehension...  It's humbling to recognize we aren't the center, we are a small part of a much bigger thing. 

Again as part of my upbringing, interests and my profession I have had the opportunity to travel a bit and see some pretty neat places.  I have also had some really cool behind the scenes tours of remarkable natural areas! 

It would only be natural that I commemorate some of these experiences in a personal expression... my songs. 

Music has always been a part of my life.  

Some of my earlier memories are singing.  Mom was always singing gospel songs or classic country ballads.  I would sing with her in church or on long car rides.  

My third grade teacher sent a note home suggesting that my folks avoid spending any money on music lessons of any kind because I had no musical aptitude. A few years later my older brother left a guitar in the closet and I taught myself how to play and did my first paying gig when I was 13.  

I have never stopped playing and hopefully never will. 

A few years ago I started writing my own material and I love the challenge of turning a phrase and telling a story.  It is incredibly rewarding when a tune carries the words and story and creates an image or mood.  I can't describe what it feels like when it all comes together!    

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  • 4/12/2018
    NMR and P Association,  Santa Fe
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