Meet your guide…
Through my entire life growing up on the shores of Cape May County I have been drawn to Nature. For over 40 years I’ve been a professional naturalist. I was a marine educator at the Ocean Life Aquarium in Atlantic City, The National Aquarium in Baltimore, and the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium. I’ve been the program director at New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, the Environmental Educator at The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, and the onboard naturalist for two back bay tour boat companies: the Starfish and Skimmer Tours. In 2008 I was awarded the Outstanding Envrionmental Educator of the Year Award from the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education. I've also worked in aquaculture, was a biology lab assistant at the local community college, a Girl Scout Outdoor Skills Trainer and troop leader, and had a long-term substitute teacher position in a local school system.
As a child I was always doodling and dabbling in art, writing, and a variety of crafts. As an educator I strive to bring these skills into my environmental science programs. Several years ago I took up nature journaling which dovetails art, science, and mindfulness nicely. In March 2022, I had the pleasure to be interviewed by both Marley Peifer on his "Nature Journal Show" and by John Muir Laws on the "Nature Journal Educators' Forum" to talk about nature "junk" journaling and "Noticing Nature", a nature journaling-based class I've been teaching for the past several years where I meet people in different locations throughout Atlantic and Cape May Counties to explore a topic in Nature and learn journaling techniques meant to solidify the connections.
It’s been a wild life and I’m not done yet! I've gotten certifications as a Nature & Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs; a Yoga Breath Coach through YogaBody; and an Art Therapy Practitioner in-training through Scholistico. My trainings include the body of scientific knowledge that demonstrates the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of spending time in Nature, and the special knowledge in guiding people of all ages inviting them to slow down, providing them with opportunities to develop/remember their connection with the natural world.
In 2021 my new company 2nd Nature ~ Connections LLC came into Being, taking my life’s work on a slight tangent going forward: infusing traditional science-based environmental education with opportunities for people to connect, genuinely sense their connection to the natural world on which we depend, and creatively express that connection.
What does “2nd Nature” or “second nature” mean? What thoughts and ideas does that evoke for you? When something, an action, a reaction, a thought or feeling is second nature, what does that imply? Often it means "instinct, something done or thought habitually, intuitively".
“Second” also implies time. Taking time, slowing down, and being present is required. I have witnessed profound change in hundreds of children and adults just by taking as little as twenty seconds to let themselves settle into their surroundings! Twenty Seconds! ~ less than half a minute! ~
“Connections” has been defined as coming together or being together; joining with; reaching out; seeing the sameness; feeling of relationship; alignment. All of Nature is connected and we are Nature. There are no clear distinctions in the cycling of seasons, of climates, of the air, water, and energy systems that sustain all life. We as a species need to feel this relationship and belonging again.
This is what 2nd Nature ~ Connections is all about. Please join me on this new path. Let’s make our Connections ~ 2nd Nature.
Rancocas Nature Center
794 Rancocas Road, Westampton, NJ, USAIntroduction to Nature & Forest TherapyConnecting with Nature: An immersive seminar in Nature Connecting with Nature has been shown to have many benefits … to you, to your connection with others, and to Nature itself. Leave your worries behind and settle into this in-depth seminar where you’ll be guided through a brief orientation of Nature & Forest Therapy is (also known as “Forest Bathing”), the research-backed benefits of engaging in a guided walk or session, what happens during a typical session, and several invitations to get you started on a wellness practice and an effective way to manage stress. Seminar topics in this Introduction include - What is “Nature & Forest Therapy” & how does it compare to “forest bathing”, a brief history of the practice, the stories & language used; Threshold of Connection - entering into a space; awarenesses, the importance of learning and acknowledging the history of the land & tenders of a space; Invitation to Liminal Time - the therapy of Nature; sensory awareness; circles of gathering & sharing, an invitation to Sit Spot; and Threshold of Incorporation - introducing & returning; Wild Tea. After lunch we will venture into to the forest to enjoy a Nature & Forest Therapy walk.