Russell Hood grew up on the Central Coast of California, a place known for its quaint, Spanish-themed towns. After completing high school he sought out a more northern climate and a small, liberal arts college. Reed College in Portland, Oregon fit the bill. While there he earned a bachelor's degree in physics.
After college Mr. Hood worked seasonally for the US Forest Service building and maintaining trails in Wyoming's Wind River Range. The lure of Alaska pulled hard on him and soon he was working seasonally in Southeast Alaska, educating visitors at a brown bear viewing area and performing cabin and trail maintenance in the temperate rain forest. He eventually moved to Anchorage, Alaska a few years later, completing his ever northward migration. In Anchorage he entered graduate school and earned a master's degree in teaching. Immediately thereafter he became a science and math teacher in the Anchorage public school system, teaching primarily physics and AP in the local high schools.