I’ve spent my life playing in the dirt and connecting with beings around the globe through nature. Up to age 21, I spent summers in the Blue Ridge Mountains learning and playing in the forest with girls who became my lifelong friends. As a young adult, I followed my passion around the globe, letting my love of nature and people lead me to work with indigenous and local communities, in rainforests and oceans, caves and prairies.
I started my current career sharing my love of nature and human history as a holiday tour manager through the US, Canada, and Mexico in my mid-20s. I used to laugh when clients would ask if I got bored of visiting the same places over and over for work. Who could be bored of The Grand Canyon, Black Hills of South Dakota and Banff? No, I never got bored. During slow times at work, I traveled internationally, discovering community-based ecotourism in Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific. Seeing nature as a tool for happiness and financial stability led me to pursue a masters in Sustainable International Development with a focus on ecotourism.
For the past 20+ years, I’ve witnessed the power of nature to heal, strengthen, and provide nourishment and income, working directly with local communities. I lived and worked with communities in the Sacred Valley of Peru during my graduate school fieldwork; in Honduras, where I trained local nature guides and worked with the country’s Ministry of Tourism to develop a certification program for guides; and as the Director of Wildlife Ecotourism for Humane Society International, where I worked with dozens of communities in Central America to develop ecotourism projects as a financial alternative to illegal wildlife trade; I’ve worked for the US Forest Service for the past 8 years, first in the International Programs division overseeing a portfolio of environmental programs in 6 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and now domestically as the National Program Manager for Travel, Tourism, and Interpretation for the Agency. It was at a speaking event for the Forest Service that I learned about the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy Guides, and knew that it would be another powerful tool to continue spreading awareness of the joy of nature and the importance of the natural world for human wellbeing.
I hope that all who join me for a Forest Immersion Experience will rediscover the nature in and around them.