Buettner in October 2010
St. Paul, Minnesota
Dan Buettner (born 1960 in St. Paul, Minnesota) is an American explorer, educator, author and public speaker. He also co-produced a documentary and holds three world records for endurance bicycling. He is the founder of the online Quest Network, Inc., which provides opportunities for students to interactively engage with explorers on expedition. In February 2007, an expedition led by Buettner to Nicoya, Costa Rica confirmed the existence of what the New York Times described as "a local population with the longest average lifespan in the Western hemisphere".
Raised by an adventurous father, Buettner's appreciation of travel was encouraged by a series of international trips he won as a teenager selling newspapers.
After graduating from the College of St. Thomas in 1984, Buettner took a year to explore Spain before taking a job with National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. recruiting celebrity participation in a fund-raising croquet tournament with journalist George Plimpton.
The experience taught him a lot about the fundraising value of publicity, so he set off to achieve several world records, cycling thousands of miles on several continents. The first trip, called "Americastrek," covered 15,500 miles from Alaska to Argentina and was completed in 1987; the second, "Sovietrek," in 1990 covered 12,888 miles; the third, inspired by 1992's Los Angeles riots, was "Africatrek," covering 11,885 miles through Africa.
In February 1995, he and a team including Mayanist Julie Acuff, photographer Douglas Mason, and his two brothers, Steve and Nick, embarked on a three-month, 3,244-mile mountain bicycling expedition known as MayaQuest. They travelled through Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras to gain insights into the causes of the collapse of the Maya civilization around A.D. 900. Carrying laptop computers and a minisatellite dish on loan from Rockwell, these adventurers were able to link up with 40,000 schools involved in the project via Prodigy, as well as other Internet users. The team logged on twice a week, uploaded their findings, fielded questions from students and teachers, and received input from more than one million online participants.
Buettner first utilized the internet in publicizing his adventures on the last of these trips, as he and his companions posted on Mosaic the details. The last of these trips also became the subject of an Emmy-winning PBS documentary co-produced by Buettner and a book he authored, Afratrek: A Journey by Bicycle through Africa, which won the Young Reader Award of Scientific American.
Activities in Support of Classroom Education
In 1993, Buettner first began transmitting videos and stories from his expeditions into classrooms and in 1995 founded "Earthtreks, Inc." to support that effort. He sold the company to textbook publisher Classroom Connect in 1997, but continued to lead expeditions until 2004.
Blue Zones Research
During his bicycling trips, Buettner became interested in demographics and longevity and began his research into "blue zones," a term for the regions on Earth with the longest life expectancy, disability-free life expectancy or concentration of persons over 100, He began investigating these "blue zones" with physicians and demographers, focusing his initial efforts in Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan;, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and Loma Linda, California.
Buettner reported his interest in "blue zones" in his cover story for National Geographic Magazine's November 2005 edition, "Secrets of Longevity." When Costa Rican demographer Dr. Luis Rosero-Bixby revealed in 2005 that Costa Ricans who survive to the age of 60 "have the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world," National Geographic funded an expedition led by Buettner to investigate. Buettner's expedition confirmed Rosero-Bixby's findings and discovered further that in the specific region of Nicoya, in the northwestern part of Costa Rica, residents were longer-lived even than other Costa Ricans, making it the "blue zone" of the Americas.
In April 2008, Buettner released a book on his findings, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest, through National Geographic Books. In September 2009, Buettner gave a TED talk on the topic. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100
Quest Network, Inc
Following his association with Earthtreks, Buettner founded a new company, Quest Network, Inc., to carry on his educational goals, beginning with his 2005 "blue zone" exploration of Okinawa, Japan. His next Quest Network project covered his return visit to Nicoya in early 2007. Quest Network's interactive classroom experiences allow students worldwide to vote on upcoming activities of the expedition team.
- Robinson, Joe (June 1, 2007). "If adventure is the topic, the talk isn’t cheap". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-05-24. Retrieved September 14, 2007.
- Gilchrist, Dan. (November 2005) Chasing life. The Rake. Accessed September 14, 2007.
- "Pioneer in exploration and education to speak about team motivation at national conference". CUPA-HR 30 (7). July 2003. Archived from the original on 2004-08-28. Retrieved September 14, 2007.
- Merrell, Lolly. (December 2005). The believers Outside Magazine. Accessed September 14, 2007.
- Potter, Ned. (January 18, 2007). Finding the keys to longevity. ABC News. Accessed September 14, 2007.
- On assignment—the secret of longevity National Geographic Accessed September 14, 2007.
- Buettner, Dan. (February 2, 2007). Report from the "Blue Zone" ABC News. Accessed September 14, 2007.
- Zone 2 "Costa Rica" Blue Zones. Accessed September 14, 2007.
- Buettner, Dan (2011). Thrive. Finding happiness the Blue Zones way. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1-4262-0818-8.
- Buettner, Dan (April 1997). Africatrek: A Journey by Bicycle Through Africa. Lerner Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8225-2951-3.
- Buettner, Dan (April 2008). The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 1-4262-0274-1.
- Buettner, Dan; Douglas Mason (illustrator) (May 1996). Maya Quest: Interactive Expedition. Onion Press. ISBN 0-9640334-2-9.
- Buettner, Dan (August 1994). Sovietrek: A Journey by Bicycle Across Russia. Lerner Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8225-2950-5.
- Blue Zones website founded by Dan Buettner