An unexpected journey America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston connects with nature


  AMERICA OUTDOORS WITH BARATUNDE THURSTON was embraced by viewers its first season last year on PBS. That ensured the second season would highlight even more adventures with the ultra-likable host/author/comedian Baratunde Thurston traveling outside his comfort zone.

  Enjoying his unexpected journey, Thurston says his goal is to “uncover amazing stories about how we work, play and interact with the outdoors. In a country as diverse as America, I’m on a mission to see how culture, history, and the land itself are shaping what we do when we step through our front doors to embrace an outdoor way of life.”

  America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston airs its six new episodes on PBS, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. from September 6 to October 11, 2023 (also available to stream on the PBS App to catch up on episodes).

 The new season explores unique regions and outdoor culture in Utah, Maine, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and on the Suwanee River flowing through Georgia and Florida.

 “I love getting to experience this country through the lives of people deeply connected to nature,” said Thurston, who did a PBS Zoom interview session with the Television Critics Association (TCA). The host and executive producer of the show was enthusiastic as he explained to the TCA about getting on the road again. “I’ve witnessed healing, transformation, and plain old fun.”

 Part of the fun this second season are the intriguing folks he encounters and how they get to experience their local area through Thurston’s eyes. From the Arkansas episode, Kayle Browning, an Olympian silver medalist in sharpshooting, introduces him to the hunting culture of firearms. She said, “I applaud his respect and open mind.” From Maine, Dan Devereaux takes Baratunde out on the water in the freezing cold, “and it was such a pleasure to experience his passion for telling the story of harvesting sustainable oysters.” He also got to harvest ice the old-fashion way. And Lisa Gilbert is the first black and first female mayor of Elaine, Arkansas, which has a community of resilient people who have a love for nature.

  Thurston’s response to the glowing remarks from his new outdoor friends was, “Each of these folks is a great storyteller and they’re living a really powerful life. So thank you all for trusting me, and we had some laughs, we had some tears. Things got physical, depending on the activities we were doing. How we see the land we’re all a part of is the mission of this show, and these are three great folks that help us see that.”

  Episodes dig into the growing evidence that links people’s overall health and wellness with being outside and it also explore new ways of making the outdoors accessible to everyone.

Episode air dates and descriptions are below (check local listings):

“Suwannee: Wild River” Sept. 6. The Suwannee is one of the last wild rivers in America, and its watershed creates woods and wetlands, marshes, and cave systems. From its headwaters in the Okefenokee Swamp, Baratunde journeys downstream, meeting colorful denizens of the Suwannee. From jet skiers to herpetologists, manatees to snapping turtles.

“Arkansas: Hidden Gems” Sept. 13. In Arkansas, almost everyone you meet is into the outdoors, yet to outsiders the state barely registers as an outdoor destination. Baratunde discovers why this hidden gem has stayed hidden for so long.

 “New Mexico: Timeless” airs Sept. 20. New Mexico was first inhabited by Ancient Puebloans millennia ago leaving stunning


ruins to be found. From turkey hunting, river rafting on the Rio Grande, and ancient pueblos built in alignment with the stars, Baratunde explores how the area’s deep history.

“Oregon” airs Sept. 27. Oregon has incredible variety, a wild coast and misty forests. In just a few hours you can go from the high desert to the Cascade mountains. Baratunde embraces forest bathing, goes spearfishing in underwater kelp forests, rides along with cowboys tackling sustainable ranching, and rollerblades through Portland.

“Utah” airs Oct. 4. From the nomadic Diné tribes who have been there since time immemorial, to the Mormons religious pilgrimage in 1847, the expansive beauty of Utah has been a magnet for centuries. So what draws modern pilgrims? Baratunde journeys west to find out what they’re seeking, and how are they shaping the outdoor culture today.

“Maine: Embrace the Cold” Oct. 11. With its magnificent coastline and densely wooded interior, Maine’s love of wilderness adventures has a long history. Baratunde meets a Mainer reviving the timeless craft of harvesting ice, straps on snowshoes to understand how being outside can help folks recovering from addiction, and takes an icy plunge in the winter ocean.

 Tune in America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston Wednesdays on PBS.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.