An environmental biologist by training, Young created Rising Tide Explorers, in part, to showcase Southwest Florida's ecology. "This unique natural area should be a destination for the outdoors," he says. Photography by Nick Shirghio


O Captain! My Captain!

Through his eco-tour company, Rising Tide Explorers, Ryan Young connects people to Southwest Florida’s wilderness, while empowering the local science community.

“Many people never see this part of Florida,” Ryan Young says, pointing to the rippling water and mangrove-filled islets that unfurl in every direction within Rookery Bay. “And it's so accessible. We're only 10 minutes from downtown Naples, and it's like we're in the middle of nowhere.” As the founder of Rising Tide Explorers, the preserve’s eco-tour operator, Young leads a team of nature guides, who are also trained biologists, with a keen interest in Southwest Florida ecology. The company’s mission is manyfold, but at the core is a desire to influence the region’s outdoor culture. “People come here for the beaches, golf and weather,” he says. “Those are all attractive reasons to love this area, but there's so much more.” Though he has seen great strides, he thinks the region's unique landscapes are still undervalued and wants to see the area recognized as an outdoor destination on par with any adventure hub. Young knows that kind of change starts with small, individual moments. For him, a field trip to Rookery Bay in high school was one of those experiences. His family had recently moved to Naples from New Jersey, and while digging aro
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