Derek was born and raised in Northwest Montana, in the Flathead Valley and Missoula areas.
He visited Alaska on hunting and fishing trips with his dad throughout his childhood and says he simply fell in love with the scenery, comparing it to the most extreme version of his own home state.
He graduated from the University of Montana with degrees in Sociology and Spanish in 2014. Wanting to put his education to use by exploring the world, he signed up to volunteer for a non-profit in Ecuador called the Tandana Foundation.
In meeting and interviewing natives of Ecuador, Derek quickly realized his calling was journalism and storytelling; a deep desire provide reliable news and information to the public. That realization prompted a return to the University of Montana, and in May 2017, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Journalism.
Derek directed and narrated a documentary for the University of Montana’s student documentary unit. The film titled, “Montana Rx: Unintended Consequences,” aired on Montana PBS, examining the state’s efforts to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Derek also reported as a multimedia journalist for the University of Montana’s award-winning Native News Project, where he worked closely with members of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation to analyze the tribe’s investments in diabetes prevention.
Derek also worked as a multimedia journalist at KPAX-TV Channel 8 in Missoula in 2016, covering wildfires and other general assignment reports in western Montana.
Derek admits he’s an adventure seeker who loves learning about new cultures and perspectives. He believes visual storytelling provides the opportunity to capture the most beautiful pieces of a story and fit them together into a larger narrative, with the power and potential to connect with an audience. He looks forward to exploring Alaska further while learning more about the state which has captured his interest since childhood.