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Blog It Forward – Dahn Pratt

Hey SCN, I’m a little late to the game but what better way to pester you then with the Blog It Forward Initiative!

I’ve been BIF’d by my mentor Tammy Powlas (you can find her BIF here).

If you’d like to know a little about me I have a long-winded rant and self gratifying introductory blog post. Otherwise let’s jump right in!

Fun fact about my country:

This is actually pretty interesting because I am currently an expatriate of 3 countries and counting. Although I grew up in Israel (fact: Per capita Israel has the most college degrees, museums, and start up companies) I immigrated to the United States, specifically New Jersey (fact: New Jersey has the highest population density, an average 1,030 people per sq. mi., which is 13 times the national average.) but attended post secondary school in Canada (fact: Canada’s capital (Ottawa) is equidistant from Toronto and Quebec City on the border of Ontario and Quebec – bridging the English and French populations). You might say I’m unpatriotic, but the truth is I just love absorbing new cultures, lifestyles, and weird traditions (did you know Canadian’s put cheese curds and gravy on their french fries – it’s called poutine; WHAT?!)

Cool picture of my hometown:

Since I am a transient person it’s pretty hard to specify where exactly my hometown is. I was born in the Negev Desert in Southern Israel into an agricultural community based on socialist values called a Kibbutz. My hometown was really more of a home village with a modest population of around 300. Kibbutz Revivim supplied some of my best childhood memories and gave me an early start at appreciating nature, communal living and working, as well as the lofty goals of socialism (it’s not all bad I promise).


A little taste of the Negev Desert, this is a picture of a Wadi I took on a hike in 2013.

On the other hand, when my family relocated to New Jersey, where my sheltered life completed flipped from intimate, quiet, and simplistic to an urban environment, filled with diversity, and opportunities. Teaneck has been my stomping grounds for nearly 15 years and I relish in the friendships, knowledge, and life skills I gained there. Plus its called “Tree City, USA” because there are so many trees you can barely see the sky!


Rare glimpse of said sky. This is Teaneck High School, often called the “Castle on the Hill”. Anyone else nostalgic for high school?

If I wasn’t in my current position where would I be?:

No second guessing this one, I’d be in the deep wilderness somewhere doing a long distance hike! The solitude of trekking in nature is incomparable to anything I have ever tried in both stress relief and self reflection. I highly recommend any kind of time spent in forest, desert, alpine zone, or tundra.


This is a picture of International Falls on the Alaskan-Canadian border. If you look closely at the center-bottom you may or may not be able to make out a human. Who you might ask? None other than your humble narrator.

What was your dream job as a kid?:

Believe it or not from the ripe age of 7 I seriously aspired to be an Astronomer. I was obsessed with constellations, light years, galaxies, dark matter, and of course astronauts. My parents helped fuel my obsession by signing me up for classes at the Natural History Museum of New York (in the incredible Hayden Planetarium).

What was your coolest summer job?:

I had the privilege to work as a dog handler and musher for Alaska Icefield Expeditions for two summers in-between my university studies. Working with over 300 adorable Alaskan Huskies (who were professional sled-dogs), living on an active glacier, and taking a helicopter work, were just some of the perks of living off the grid.


The Denver Glacier was my home for well over six months. Although living on an icecube may sound a bit uneventful the crevasses, moulins, avalanches and surrounding geology definitely kept me busy!


Passing the baton!

I nominate some of my fellow new student SAP mentors:

Daniel Kleiman since you worked on Kibbutz Revivim, it’s only fair that I nominate you to Blog It Forward!

Ben Christensen

Jorida Cakeri

Three additional questions:

What is the best food fromthe country you live in?

What is your favorite outdoor activity or sport?

How did you get started on SCN?

Looking forward to learning about you!

Thanks for reading.

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  • Hi Dahn, and welcome to the #BIF Family!  I love the pictures and your narrative voice comes through really well I think.  But nostalgic for high school?  Naw, I think not.

    I am quite jealous of your summer job in Alaska - and happy to hear sled dogs are 'adorable' - all the hard work doesn't stop them being dogs, right?

    Cheers, Dahn, and I look forward to hearing more from you.


    • Thank you Susan! It's a pleasure to share my experiences but come on high school couldn't have been that bad.

      The huskies actually LOVE pulling more than they love licking my face and jumping on me, hard to believe I know. They're bred specifically for their energy, motivation, and desire to pull. If they don't have those qualities they usually become house pets, which is awesome to! The mushers and professional sled-dog racers take such incredible care of their companions and it really shows through their dog's warm personalities.

      Thanks again for taking an interest!


        • I'm with Sue and Matt here. I don't miss my school days that much either (although I really, really liked school per se). Life is much easier now than then. Being an adult and stuff. 😀 Also it helps a lot, if you love your job. *g*

          Your name popped up in my activity stream some time ago, because someone I follow followed you and there I was thinking "Pratt... Pratt... Pratt? Like Marilyn... Pratt? Coincidence... hmmm." But after reading your Student Mentor Introduction, that mystery was cleared up. ^^

          You led a pretty interesting life this far, wow! It's always great to get so many chances to see and experience the world and it's even greater, if you're brave enough to take them and actually do that. But you don't strike me like the shy guy, so I guess you never had that kind of struggle. 😀

          And you should definitly read Matt's BIF, if you like reading as much as writing and hiking. 😉

          Loved your pictures. I think, your high school looks like I would picture a costly British boarding school or a building you could find on an Ivy League campus. Ours was a plain building in faded green with a extension in white, but I liked it either way.

          What I'm curious about is, how many languages do you speak, given that you moved around so much and went of to see the world?



          • Steffi,

            Thanks for reading, it's only right if I spend an equal amount of time reading other's BIFs. Your's is particularly interesting especially the section about your dream job. You write about living behind the Iron Curtain, do you remember any of that from your early childhood? One of my most memorable experiences was seeing the Wall and really understanding what it represented and how it effected East/West Germans on a tangible scale. As an act of protest I climbed it but once I got to the top I got pretty scared (it's so tall!)


            Also thank you for pointing me to Matt Fraser 's BIF, he has an incredibly life story! I can only hope to mimic some of his exploits and adventures.

            My high school is definitely "posh" looking. It was actually built during the Great Depression as a part of F.D.R.'s New Deal to revitalize the American economy. Although it looks like a Hogwarts of sorts it is still a free public access school, albeit of an exceptionally high calibre (but that's just my extremely biased opinion).

            As to languages, I grew up learning Hebrew and studied it at the collegiate level so I have a pretty fluent grasp on that. I also took Arabic in university and traveled to a couple of Arabic speaking countries, although I would say my Arabic is rudimentary. I also studied Spanish for many years in high school, but again I do not have the proper immersion to call myself proficient. Little known fact though, I speak English pretty darn well.

            Thanks again,

            Dahn 🙂

          • Dahn Pratt wrote:

            [...] You write about living behind the Iron Curtain, do you remember any of that from your early childhood? One of my most memorable experiences was seeing the Wall and really understanding what it represented and how it effected East/West Germans on a tangible scale. As an act of protest I climbed it but once I got to the top I got pretty scared (it's so tall!)



            I was lucky enough to not "feel" the restrictions that were in place then, because I was still a child (8 years old) , when The Wall went down (and it was a really good childhood!). But I remember the excitement of pretty much everybody around me after that and our first trip over the border into West Germany, too. That was such a strange feeling, like entering another world really.

            Funny thing is, even though we had some trips to Berlin during my later school days, I don't remember seeing those parts of the Wall that were left as part of history (and I would bet, we have visited them, so I MUST have seen them, I just really don't remember).

            Every year we have documentations running on TV come November, how it all went down (figuratively and literally). And every time I see such a documentation, hearing the voices of reporters, politicians and the normal people and at last... the cheer, when the borders were opened and the joy and tears of the people that passed over the torn down Wall in Berlin, I tear up.

            So even though I have not consciously experienced it as a child, it's still a big part of my history and myself and I really feel lucky to NOT have to be an adult in that world, but to have it change when I was so young. 🙂



          • Steffi,

            Wow, very seldom do we get a look into such important historical moments. Many teachers I have had the pleasure of studying under call the fall of the Berlin Wall a paradigm shift and I can see why.

            Thank you for your perspective and input - truly fascinating.



  • Thank you for sharing your experiences with us here, Dahn. You are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience such vastly different cultures, geographies, and life styles at a young age. I hope you bring that adventurous spirit to SCN and to your future career path whether it is in SAP or wherever the road takes you.



    • Gretchen,

      I am truly fortunate! I try to thank my parents every time I see or hear them for the incredible opportunities bestowed upon me. I think the best I can do is never squander the favorable circumstances I have and try to extend the aforementioned or at least inspire others. Thank you for your response and I hope to continue making splashes in the community.



  • Reads like a 'Chapter Two' after your "student mentor introduction" blog post -- both are fascinating! I too have had the opportunity live for extended periods atop an icefield, though not with huskies. How have you found time to play in so many different and varied fields? Professional dog musher? Didn't see that one coming.



    • Matt,

      I am impressed with your resilience in wading through the "Great Wall of Text" I posted. Which icefield did you live on and under what circumstances? The feeling of being disconnected from running water, electricity, cell phone service, and other basic amenities is weirdly liberating, wouldn't you say?

      To answer your question, I think the biggest objective for me is to always say "yes", it might sound cliché but I make every effort to undertake any opportunity that presents itself. This is why I am currently on SCN!

      Professional dog musher is definitely a stretch. I took care of professional sled-dogs from kennels that did the real deal races (Iditarod, Yukon Quest) and also worked with some of the stars of the sport but I never competed myself. I was just fortunate enough to be part of that world for two awesome Alaskan summers. I appreciate the compliment nonetheless.

      Thanks for your input and also for reading,


      • As a frequent writer of "Great Walls of Text" myself, I'm familiar with navigating such structures. As for icefields, I spent four years in Antarctica. As part of that experience, on several occasions I was part of put-in and tear-down crews for deep field research camps on the polar plateau. That would involve spending two or three weeks at a time living in a tent atop an icefield while constructing or deconstructing shelters for the scientists.

      • You can read all about Matt Fraser and his Antarctica adventures here: Blog it Forward - Matt Fraser

        Yep, you two sound like kindred spirits in the adventures fields. Twins separated at birth (by a decade or so).

        Matt's was definitely a very memorable #BIF post and I am surprised I didn't say that directly in the comments to his post but I really enjoy his writing and story-telling skills. (He certainly has a talent with text).

        You would be well-mentored by so many here, in so many realms, beyond technology (although as ubiquitous as technology is now, there would always be a link, somewhere ,some how).  It seems that IoT expands our human sensory ability and I'm beginning to think of the endless stream of use cases for any hobby, passion or activity.

        A next hike on digital steroids!

        And might I add, as a parent, it was moving to read your acknowledgement of your own parents in your response to Gretchen Lindquist .  Oh wait.... that would be us. 😈 Well, glad to see you have such nice manners.   And a wickedly good sense of humor. No credit to be taken there.  You are certainly (and always have been) your own person.

      • Hi Dahn

        Great reading - with your sense of humour you might like to head on over to the Coffee Corner and jump in 😉

        I think the biggest objective for me is to always say "yes"

        This is an approach I have taken to recently. It is so easy to find reasons to say no (timing is bad, can't afford it, too much risk). But it's amazing the opportunities and life experiences that you get when your first reaction is to say yes and then figure out the logistics later. Within the SCN family, I've taken this approach and it's be a wonderful experience. I have (virtually) met so many wonderful and skill people.



        • Hey Colleen!

          Thank you for the suggestion, I'll definitely be grabbing a cup of Joe!

          I completely agree and you've phrased it so much better then I could have, simply figuring out how to make it happen retroactively has set me up for incredible opportunities.

          Thanks for your input.



      • Matt,

        I was just writing to you to say the inverse! After reading your BIF I was completely blown away by your utter worldliness. Your travels and adventures are awe-inspiring and the pictures and stories left me dumbstruck.

        I know full well about set-up/tear-down as the icefield we were located on was on lease from the National Park Service, which means everything we brought in had to be helicoptered out. When I say everything I mean everything (weather huts, kitchen equipment, animal and human byproducts, etc). I guess we can share in mutual anguish over drilling together tents, houses, other equipment, and then tearing it all down and loading it all up.

        Your summits and outdoor adventures looks amazing, I might have to coax you into joining me on the PCT in the near future! We can add Mt. Whitney to your summit bag.

        Thanks for the nostalgia and the exciting outlook for future endeavors!


        • Back in the day, at the polar plateau camps, the "human byproducts" ended up in a deep pit in the snow with an outhouse built over it. At the end of the season, the outhouse was dismantled, fuel thrown in the pit and lit afire, and then the pit filled in with more snow. I guess the idea was that, being on top of a 3000' thick glacier, and 400 miles from the nearest human habitation (i.e, from the South Pole, and about an equal distance to the ocean, which was frozen anyway), that was good enough. That was over twenty years ago, however. Nowadays it's probably all flown out. That was always the case in the Dry Valleys camps, though. I could tell stories about "managing" that pit over the course of a three-month season in sub-freezing temperatures, but they're probably not appropriate for polite company. 😉

  • Ah...Poutine.  It's more like a delicacy in my native Quebec.  It gets it's name from a slang term for "mess" and, even weirder than some places having 25+ varieties of it on their menu, are people lining up at 3:00 AM after the bars close when it's -30c outside to share a 1000+ calorie plate of the stuff...ah, poutine...

    Well, thanks for sharing.

      • And also L.A. and London...but not Tel Aviv where there's a dearth of cheese curds and sauce brune 😥

        Funny thing about those curds: I think Quebec is the only place where you'll see bags of the stuff on the counter at gas stations.  "Yeah, a full tank and bag of cheese please."

    • I love Quebec! Every January we would load up the bus and drive up to Montreal to compete at the McGill Challenge, one of my favorite indoor track meets! My late night treat after a night of competing would always be the greasiest poutine I could find. But you're right it's a shame Tel Aviv doesn't have a poutine joint, I think one on Rothchild Boulevard would be rather successful.

      Thanks for reading and sending me down memory lane.

      - Dahn

  • Hey Dahn,

    Awesome post!

    I echo some of the commenters' jealousy of your experience in Alaska. Who wouldn't wanna work with Huskies all summer?

    This is my reaction when I saw your mother's reply:


    • AJ!

      Thank you so much for reading. It's not all fun and games working in Alaska. The job is very physically demanding and the complete disconnect with the world while often romanticized can be maddening. It's definitely not a job for everyone, but that being said it was an incredible experience that I'm glad I have and glad to share.