The University of Arizona Alumni Association has named Southwest Center Research Social Scientist, David Yetman, 2018 Alumnus of the year for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Since 2000 Yetman has hosted two television series that air on PBS: The Desert Speaks, followed by In the Americas with David Yetman.
Yetman's passion for Latin America started when he was a child. “I grew up in a tiny town in New Jersey. I didn’t go to school for the first four years because I was ill. My father was a minister, and he had a parishioner who gave our family old copies of National Geographic. And something clicked in my brain that I wanted to go to Mexico.”
Yetman estimates he has now made over 300 treks to Latin American countries.
Yetman’s family moved to Arizona when he was a teenager, and he became enamored with the ecology of the Sonoran Desert. While he was working on his Ph.D. in philosophy from the UA, he was also spending time with the Seri Indians off the Gulf of Mexico, “much to the despair of my adviser.”
Yetman hosted The Desert Speaks from 2000 until the program ended in 2010. Then, Yetman and Dan Duncan (the program's producer and vedeographer) started In the Americas with David Yetman, in which the pair uncover the geographic and cultural diversity of the Americas and take a fresh look at the lands that make up much of the Western Hemisphere. Yetman received Emmy Awards in 2007 and 2014 for his documentary television work.
Yetman and Duncan meet people from all walks of life and let them tell their stories. Duncan said they focus on places off the beaten path, places where tourists don’t normally venture. They ask the local people, “What would you like the world to know about this place?”
“David is the guy when it comes to relating to people from different cultures and backgrounds,” said Duncan. “He is an incredible person. It’s crazy how talented the guy is.”