My pursuit of a career in the outdoors began after a failed attempt as an English major. Two years of college taught me I wasn’t heading down the right path in life, and I needed to find a clear direction if I was ever going to be a productive member of society. As you may guess, I took to the woods, mountains, and waters to find clarity. It seemed to work, and two forestry degrees, from Mississippi State University, were the first big successes of this new direction.
My first position after undergrad was as an interim instructor in forest resources at a Mississippi community college. I was still working on my master’s degree at the time, but this experience helped me realized a deeper passion for teaching. I wanted to educate others about their natural surroundings and the value those resources hold in their daily lives. I was fortunate along each step of my journey to have a wonderful mentor guide me into the next stage, and my pursuit of environmental education has introduced me to some of the most amazing individuals and groups this world has to offer. I was doubly fortunate that many of these mentors and individuals are strong, passionate women, whom I learned to emulate in my career and life.
As a recent graduate and newlywed on the move, I bounced around a bit between volunteering, working whatever could pay the bills, and continuously seeking the next stage of my career. Through volunteer networking I found my first big break in a place I never expected. My first salary level job was working with struggling teens in a wilderness therapy program, and to this day that experience was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done with my life. I learned a great deal about myself, about people in general, and about the healing strength of the outdoors.
Not long after, another opportunity came along that combined my education, previous experience, and most importantly, my passion for environmental education. Everything I had worked for the previous decade came to fruition when I was offered the position as an Alabama State Park Naturalist. As a naturalist I lead groups into the outdoors to explore and learn about the natural, scenic, and cultural resources in the parks. A naturalist also brings programs and materials to schools and communities when they are unable to explore the natural world in person. I found this position to be both stimulating and rewarding, and I will always cherish my time as a park naturalist. Today, I still consider myself a naturalist, and I will continue to remain a lifelong student and teacher of the natural world.
In my next position, with Alabama State Parks, I was called to assist in the management and operations of a small park with high visitor use. This position taught me the skills necessary to manage facilities and land for public use and outdoor recreation, but I quickly grew to miss environmental education and guiding outdoor excursions. After much deliberation with family and mentors I resigned from my position, and Butterfly Outdoors was born. Next born was my daughter, who I now share my love of nature with regularly. She has also helped open a new focus for Butterfly Outdoors and connecting children to nature.
SOLO Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness First Responder (This certification is the recognized industry standard for those who work as backcountry trip leaders, camp counselors, mountain guides, river guides, and ski patrollers. Follow this link for training-information, and scroll to Wilderness First Responder, WFR.)
American Red Cross and American Heart Association, CPR and AED
American Red Cross, Advanced First Aid
American Red Cross, Advanced Child Care