I have sought sanctuary in natural places since I was a child. I was lucky to be raised in an era where it was expected that children played, mostly unsupervised, out doors alone and with other children. I climbed trees. I built tree forts. I caught critters of all kinds including cicadas and horny toads (now called horned lizards). I knew how to avoid the stink bugs that lived in the crannies of the mesquite tree bark. I tried to save lizards that my cat had caught. I learned the names of the major constellations on family outings to visit the night-time desert. I spent time at summer camp every year from the time that I was 8 until I was 24 and working as a camp counselor.

Now I am older. I am a teacher in a public school for now. I seek ways to make participating with and connecting others in natural places my livelihood. I believe that we are completed there. Studies show that crime goes down in areas where green space is reintroduced in denatured urban areas. Studies show that ADHD kids do better in all areas when they have daily, unstructured, contact with nature. I know that I am a calmer, more centered person when I get my daily dose of the out-of-doors.

Modern society tends to place nature “out there somewhere”. Modern society tends to equate nature as wild space. Wild space is nature, true, but so are the parks that we build in urban centers because people are natural beings. Man made parks can be very natural places if we choose to let them be. Central park in New York City is a prime example. It is an urban oasis of wild life and plants. There are structured areas and unstructured areas. They both have their places.

I tend to like my comfort so I tend to gravitate towards what I call “hundred acre wood” places. Although it is much larger that 100 acres, Central Park is a “hundred acre wood” place. It is small enough to be familiar and large enough to hold surprises. Much is made of preserving wild places and I agree, passionately, that these must be preserved and protected. However, we must remember to preserve the pockets of nature that are near to our daily lives and create them around us from day-to-day. This is my focus. Most of us spend little time in the wilderness. Even in their days the Muirs, Thoreaus, and Whitmans were rare birds to venture into the wild so much and they didn’t have far to go. In the modern world, it takes a good bit of work to get to anything approximating wilderness even for those who want to go to such places. This make the local, semi-natural places all that much more important.

I believe that children need to be protected less and challenged more. I believe that skinned knees and mosquito bites should be a badge of honor among them. To do this, they need places to go and play in unstructured, unsupervised ways. They’ll be better people for it.

This little ramble gives you a clue about who I am and what I care about.

For a more traditional biography I will say that for now, I am a public school biology teacher. I am a Texas Master Naturalist. I grew up in both the southwest and the northeast. I prefer the temperatures of fall, winter and spring in the southwest and the landscape of the northeast. I am a birder but not a collector of bird Id. I have worked in a hunting camp, as a counselor at Scout camps, as a surveyor for construction and a dozen other jobs before this one. I will make a living as a paid naturalist.

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