My mother passed away from breast cancer when I was seven. She was in her mid-thirties and there were some speculations made about chemicals from the cornfield behind our house. My mother and father were very close with nature and took my sister and me canoeing and hiking throughout Indiana and beyond when we were babies. My dad taught me about the excitement and curiosity in the natural world through wildflowers, animals in nature, weather, clouds, and the sun. My mother made all of my baby food from the garden. She put fruits and vegetables in the blender and then froze them in ice-cube trays for later, quick use. They started the local Farmers Market in town and I started selling lemonade and bags of lettuce around the age of five, enjoying my younger years next to local farmers and local foods. My mother worked in the garden, near the cornfield that sprayed various toxic chemicals. As an 8th grader, I wrote a story on this and it was posted in the local paper.
The death of my mother was my first encounter with health impacts related to our food system and the systems of our society. Since then, I have continued to be interested in the environment, nature, food, and wellness. Recently, this interest has crossed over into the realms of sustainability, while striving to use my gift as an outdoor educator. Large scale agriculture based on principles from the industrial revolution is affecting the health and wellness of the environment AND the health and wellness of humans. This affects our ability to engage with and within the natural world. The consumerist systems we have put in place to help society, are in fact poisoning it.
I most value being with nature and in the out of doors. I love foraging for wild plants and medicinals, learning about the forgotten food and medicine around us. I love teaching and being in the wilderness. I love watching the joy on someone’s face when they finish portaging their first canoe, when they taste their first wild blueberry, when they see that first glimpse of a caribou around the riverbend. Those are the moments I value that will not happen if the air, land, and waters around us are contaminated.
I find my family in nature. I find myself in nature. In nature, I find answers to my souls deepest questions. I learn about myself, my insecurities, my strength. Taking a holistic approach, connecting with people, speaking with passion from the heart, I will make a change. I will be the change.