Tracks and Roots has been many years in the making. The seed was planted when I was 17 years old and knew simply that I wanted to spend my life in the woods, studying nature, writing, and practicing survival skills.
Perhaps my dream wasn’t concrete enough since my parents insisted I give college a try. They couldn’t imagine me hiding away in the woods rather than solving pressing environmental problems.
At 17, I knew enough to know I didn’t know enough, so I went to Virginia Tech . . . but I did it my way.
My first week, I searched and found two amazing mentors, Bill Sydor and Michael Blackwell, plus a group of college students to practice skills with. They taught me nature awareness exercises and ways to learn more efficiently. Bill had an extensive library for me to peruse.
And they helped keep me accountable. “Did you go to your sit spot this week? What did you see? Have you found any tracks lately? Do you know this plant?”
I studied hard until I could identify all the trees in Virginia, then all the birds by sight and all animal tracks in sand or mud. The wildflowers took longer since most are seasonal, but I kept a journal and drew every new plant I saw.
By the end of those 4 years, I knew most of the wildlife in Virginia and also something even more valuable – how to learn quickly.
After college, I found a job in environmental policy with the idea to save up money and pursue my passion more. I spent several years feeling depressed and unfulfilled, lacking the time and energy to study nature. I loved my job, but it wasn’t my passion and it didn’t energize me.
After the birth of my first daughter, I panicked. I became terrified I’d never actually follow my dream. I went back to work and she went to a well-run daycare, but it felt like a prison to me. I hated that my daughter was stuck inside day after day, not even seeing the light of day some days of the week.
I wanted my kids to have a deep connection to nature, which experts say should start in the first few years of life.
I saved up money and finally took that first leap into pursuing my passion. The idea of Tracks and Roots was formed.
Reconnecting people to nature is a vital part of healing ourselves, our community, and the world. The reality is we cannot save what we do not care about and many of our problems today are due to apathy and ignorance.
I’m hoping to help turn the tide towards more widespread knowledge of the natural world and greater compassion.