I have been a child of nature since I can remember. As a kid, I loved to play in the backyard in Audubon Park, a bird sanctuary neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky. My parents were avid birders and passed their love and knowledge on to me and my sisters. Our family farm near Cincinnati, Ohio was a wonderland whenever we were able to visit. I was allowed to explore the 100+ acres of hills, forests, creeks and a pond. I spent hours alone or with cousins, collecting rocks, butterflies, flowers, insects, fireflies, toads. It was heaven!
I spent my junior high and high school years in an upscale suburb of Detroit where people seemed extremely concerned with designer labels on their clothes and driving the latest model car. I somewhat lost touch with Mother Nature, spending too much time in malls and movie theaters. I felt like a fish out of water.
Then in 1984, I arrived at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and finally felt at home again. The atmosphere was lively, artistic and diverse and I had a chance to meet people from many different cultures and backgrounds. Though I majored in Economics, unlike many of my classmates who yearned for a job in finance working on Wall Street, I took every elective I could through the School of Natural Resources: Economics of Sustainable Forestry & Fishing, Economics of Superfund Clean Up Sites, etc. I wasn’t sure where I was going with it, but I knew I wanted to learn enough about money to be able to apply the lessons to protect what I thought was important in the world — Nature and the People in it.
I have remained a lifelong learner, never earning a Master’s degree, but learning much along the way through workshops, individuals, interviewing experts on my podcast, reading books as well as first hand experience of nature.