Sarah Katan, is the founder and CEO of Whale of a Trail Adventures. Based in Hudson, New York, Sarah is an outdoor enthusiast and self-proclaimed nature geek.
Sarah is on a mission to help families with young ones feel comfortable and confident in the outdoors, encouraging families not to wait until their child is an experienced walker to start adventuring together. Through immersive introductions to the best baby-wearing gear and providing the know-how, Sarah and Whale of a Trail Adventures will help you feel comfortable taking those first steps outside as a family.
I recently had the pleasure of hiking with Sarah and we quickly bonded over our shared love of nature, business ambitions, and birds. (Go download the app BirdNet, Sarah introduced me to it and I’m hooked!)
Sarah graciously answered some questions for BFH about her work, her personal experiences with nature & the outdoors, and where we can expect to find Whale of a Trail next!
BFH: What led you to this particular field?
Sarah Katan: Last summer (2020) I talked to many parents looking for hiking recommendations in my area. I also took two of my friends and their little one hiking so they could each try my kid carrier. I realized that I could encourage families to explore with their little one(s) even before they could walk by providing family-centered trail information. That was a service that wasn’t being provided around here.
I also recognized that this was an opportunity to promote social and environmental justice by broadening the people who utilize the parks and trails around Columbia and Greene counties. Kid carriers are expensive! By renting them, a family can explore without the gear being the limiting factor that keeps them from all the health benefits that green and wild places provide. There are other barriers, but the gear is the one that I’m trying to impact right now. I hope that by encouraging family to explore together from a very early age, that I will promote generational health as well as an interest and investment in the environment and environmental issues.
What’s your favorite place to get outdoors in the Berkshires and/or beyond?
How important has nature and the outdoors been in your life?
The importance of nature in my life cannot be overstated. I have been really lucky to find jobs that let me be outside and cultivated my passion and knowledge of nature. The best was when I worked as the Nature and Outdoors counselor at Hiram House Camp just outside of my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Gosh, I loved that place! I taught campers from kindergarten-age to 8th-graders a myriad of nature and outdoor skills from starting a fire to orienteering to tree identification to creek walks. My nickname was Nature Sarah. It was fantastic.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
Haha, oh no. There are way too many to pick from! Ask my friends!
What are you curious about right now?
I’ve just started to scratch the surface about the intersection between social justice and environmental justice. I’m looking forward to learning from old and new voices in that area. I’m really curious to learn who the voices are in the upper Hudson valley and to join with them to see how I can contribute.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle preventing people from getting outdoors?
Transportation, with the cost of outfitting a family for outdoor fun being a close second. But primarily, the lack of public transportation with stops near green or wild spaces is a real hurdle. Families must use a car or car share service but that’s not always feasible. This goes for local families as well as those visiting the cities of Hudson and Catskill.
What’s the road ahead look like for you?
This summer is all about building relationships … like with you, Taylor! And with community non-profits. My full time job is taking care of my 2 ½ year old so anything Whale of a Trail is on top of that. I’m going to focus on adding to and editing my website and creating a strong social media presence. If I can do a few events like family hike meet-ups or setting up a table at Waterfront Wednesdays in Hudson then all the better.
What is your favorite word?
What’s your favorite sound in nature?
Right now: bird calls. A catbird lives across the street and the acrobatic chirping that thing does is out of this world.
If you could have a billboard with one message on it, what would it say?
Remember: How you experience the world is not how others experience it. Listen, learn, and be compassionate.