What you do at Westwood Hills Nature Center?

My main job as an interpretive naturalist is education.

Background/experience

I have a Bachelor of Science in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. Yet, I’d say most of my education as a naturalist has resulted from spending time outdoors making observations and the many individuals who have shared their knowledge and expertise with me.

I have been working at Westwood for 13 years, and for about five years before in various seasonal and internship positions.

How has nature impacted your life?

It has impacted my life in so many ways. As a kid, nature was the backdrop for imaginative play. As a young adult, it was something to explore and satisfy my curiosity. As I get older, I find myself just noting and observing the many cycles that play out in any given place or period of time. 

What is your favorite animal?

I’ve been a bird watcher for about 16 years, so any bird really. Recently, I’ve been more interested in insects, especially moths. I’m constantly amazed at how many unusual and interesting insects show up at Westwood and in our garden at home.

What are your interests and hobbies?

I enjoy the usual naturalist activities, including hiking, bird watching, mushroom hunting and gardening (our yard is about 80 percent flower and vegetable garden). I also enjoy playing bass guitar, sketching, photography, iPhone art and reading a lot.

What is your favorite activity or program at Westwood?

I would say probably beekeeping.

What is your favorite place at Westwood?

It changes from season to season and year to year. My default favorite place is the Y-dock; it’s a location that seems to bring everything that Westwood is about into one place. It’s probably the spot I’ve visited the most, possibly more than any other single location other than my home.