A Farm Kid from Illinois...

My most vivid childhood memory is following my German Shorthaired Pointer around the woods surrounding my family’s vegetable farm in east central Illinois. We would “hunt” moles to protect Dad’s crops. Then we’d wander down to the river or hang out by the fort we were building. Away from the farm, I spent time at my grandparents' cabin property. I have fond outdoor childhood memories setting crawdad traps, pulling seines through ponds, hunting, fishing, canoeing, birding, catching lightning bugs, and so much more. Not surprisingly, I still enjoy spending time in the woods with my dog and find respite from the hectic world by being in nature.

These early outdoor experiences, provided by a family of scientists and outdoor-minded folk, developed my deep life-long love for the outdoors, not to mention my respect for research. In middle and high school I had several adventure camp experiences that opened my eyes to the world of outdoor recreation and environmental education. That, in conjunction with the value both sides of my family placed on education—learning and teaching—led me down a path of environmental education. My goal is to teach others about the wonders of the outdoors in order to inspire and motivate them to protect the natural world. While I think there is value in connecting people of all ages to the outdoors, I believe frequent positive outdoor experiences in early childhood are particularly powerful—for both the child’s individual growth and for his/her connection to the natural world. I also believe that early childhood is a critical period of development that sets the stage for social and emotional success, as well as a love learning. These two passions come together in nature-based early childhood education and are demonstrated through my work, writing, and academic pursuits. 

Click on the links on the left to see more about my professional work. To view a PDF of my complete curriculum vitae, click here. To contact me, click here