Aging with Distinction: Warren Stortroen

Warren StortoenEvery now and then we meet people, sometimes quite by accident who take our breath away. It’s a combination usually of who they are, as well as what they do.

Several years ago, I was looking for retirees who make a significant difference through volunteering. I called a number of nonprofits around the country, asking if they had senior volunteers I could interview. Earthwatch Institute was the only organization that gave me a name.

At the time of our first interview, Warren Stortroen was in his late seventies and had gone on over 70 Earthwatch Expeditions. What amazed me during our interview was his amazing recall of the names of the people he had worked and the places he had gone. It appeared to be a photogenic memory. At the end of our conversation, I asked if he would be interested in writing articles for my website With a slight hint of self-deprecation, he admitted he was a bit nervous about his writing ability, but was willing to give it a try.

In the subsequent years, Warren has continued to travel with Earthwatch and has written over thirty-five articles for His travels have taken him around the world, helping scientists study wildlife, the environment, volcanoes and cultural history. Not only did he inform about his experiences, but hopefully has inspired retirees of ways they can make a difference.

When I decided to conduct a series of interviews entitled “Living the Dream” Warrens name popped in my head as someone who has much to offer about having a fulfilling and meaningful life in retirement. He is now 81 and has completed 79 Earthwatch expeditions. Plus, he has already scheduled 4 more for next year.

You can hear an except of my interview with Warren at

You can find all of his articles at

There are a number of things that make Warren worthy of the title of Aging with Distinction. The first is he hasn’t let age slow him down. He told of wanting to study a volcano, but unsure of the rigors required. After discussing his concerns, he decided to go on the trip. While requiring a certain amount of stamina, he was able to stay up with the younger people in the group.

Warren has a willingness to get out of comfort zones and take risks. He understands that he’s traveling to foreign countries and is usually off the beaten path. While all precautions are taken to keep the volunteers safe, these excursions a enthusiasm for the unknown.

Finally, Warren embraces interactions with people from all walks of life and different ages. He enjoys the interaction with interns, and the working people who use vacation to go on Earthwatch trips.

No one knows how the aging process will affect us. Warren demonstrates how engagement, challenge and a sense of purpose can slow the aging process to nothing.

Living the Dream




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