Kate’s Story

Kate Gribbin, Founder and Lead Naturalist

Kate founded Butterfly Outdoors in 2017 to return to environmental education and share her passion for the outdoors with others. This career shift, from park management, also allowed her to focus more attention on her family. Since then, the company has grown to reflect the needs of women like her as well as children like her daughter. However, she is working to make the outdoors more welcoming and accessible to everyone, so the diversity of outdoor users becomes as diverse as the lands they explore. 

Her path outdoors began during childhood, and she was blessed with nature mentors like her parents, grandparents, and older siblings. She was active in Girl Scouts, and her experience in scouting led her into the depths of the Grand Canyon as well as learning to sail in the Florida Keys. She finished scouting with her Gold Award, and remains a Lifetime Girl Scout.

Science and the natural world captivated Kate from a young age, and she followed this interest into college. She earned BS and MS degrees in Forestry from Mississippi State University, and in 2007 she began her role as an environmental educator, volunteering with Project Learning Tree. While completing her master’s work she taught as a temporary instructor in the Forestry Department at Itawamba Community College. These two pivotal positions led her to pursue a career as an environmental educator, and in 2015 she found her place as a Park Naturalist with Alabama State Parks. This work allowed her to bring all her passions together, and she mentored by veteran naturalists and educators from across Alabama and the Southeast. 

The path from growing a nature connection in childhood, to an ecological understanding in young adulthood, and finally a passion for environmental education was as diverse as Alabama’s forests. The desire for a career outdoors was spurred by an Outward Bound course in 2006, and every moment from there was guided by strong female (and male) mentors in the fields of conservation and education. Today Kate works diligently to provide services to her community to inspire the next generation of outdoor educators and conservationists, as well as provide women and families safe and fun outdoor adventures. She is a lifelong learner, and actively participates in the Environmental Association of Alabama. She also serves on the education committee of the Land Trust of North Alabama, and is Alabama’s State Representative for the Association of Experiential Education. 

Relevant Certifications:

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 Heart Association, CPR and AED