We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Veale and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, what makes you happy? Why?
Being outdoors, going camping, enjoying good company, and good food makes me super happy. This is generally because it been an adventure to get to that spot and its completely removed from the craziness of modern life and it allows me to settle and focus on the things in front of me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My life is crazy and I recognize its nothing close to normal, haha. I knew roughly where I wanted to be as a kid and I took every chance, opportunity, paid and unpaid, to collect a wide array of skills that would help me be successful. That looks years of sacrifice, working multiple jobs, and volunteering my time for multiple organizations and causes. Nothing was easy about getting Global Conservation Force started. My launching sacrifice to start the NPO involved selling everything I owned, moving out of my place to go to Africa, and going into a bootcamp to become a ranger. Training I paid for, experience I earned. Spending months every year living in the wild, in the dirt, eating backpack style food, pursuing poachers. Giving up the normal goals of a young adult which included saving up for a house or being able to start a family. I took the road of discomfort so I could eventually help more people and animals. Dedication and passion have truly been the driving factor in the mission. The story is full of challenges, roadblocks, frustration, and defeat. But at the end of the day, as long as we are improving the lives for those who protect wildlife and we are helping to save wildlife, I am at ease. But that doesn’t ever change my drive, because I don’t feel satisfied, as soon as one task has been completed. I move to the next mission. I definitely come to value so many basics we take for granted in the US. The cliché things like fresh water, nice roads, internet access, and well funded national parks and municipal services.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love to show my friends a true California experience when they come to visit. Usually I get us setup to go see the local mountains, the desert, and the beach. Making sure we tackle all of the outdoor activities on those visits. I thoroughly enjoy good food and local craft beer and the wineries near where I grew up. So I always make sure those who visit get to try the local hole in the wall Mexican food restaurant I go to after surfing or free diving, I take them to my favorite breweries like Longship and Pacific Plate Brewery, and I take them to Wilson Creek Winery where I had my first job working events and as a bar back. Depending on their time and schedule I like to also take them to some of the significant historical points of interest like the Star of India and Old Town San Diego. Once we’ve knocked a couple of the places off of the list I always take my friends from out of the area for good sushi at Gin Sushi in Temecula, or Hooked on Sushi in Encinitas. If we have time I make a trip plan to go up to Sequoia National Park for a nice camping and fishing trip.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I owe a lot of ‘thanks!’ to everyone who has supported me along my crazy journey of starting a wildlife conservation organization from scratch. Starting as a wildlife care specialist, transitioning to an anti poaching ranger, and then launching Global Conservation Force. My friends and family have always supported my “crazy” ideas and given me strength or solidified my dedication and path. I also owe my entire dedicated GCF team a shoutout, they help me and GCF expand our impact, reach new goals, and truly make a difference in the world. Did I mention they’re all volunteers from 6 different countries. I feel lucky to say that there have been so many influential people and mentors in my life from my martial arts instructors, to scout leaders, to others in the conservation industry who taught me lessons so I didn’t have to make their mistakes or lean on their wisdom when I needed sound advice. Im still able grab their ear for support when I hit new roadblock, and trust me, there is no end to the challenges and roadblocks.