Environmental education is Vanessa’s background and her passion. Vanessa started college at Longwood University in Virginia with an elementary education degree in mind. She became interested in botany, and ultimately majored in biology. “As I was studying biology I discovered environmental education, but my little school didn’t have that program.”
After graduation, Vanessa moved to central Pennsylvania and started part-time graduate school at Penn State, where she studied forest ecology. “My experience at Penn State that was so influential to me was working with the forestry department of the school. I worked with people that you aren’t exposed to in environmental education.
“A lot of guys in the forestry department were hunters, incredible outdoorsmen—they all cared about the need to maintain healthy populations.
“When you’re working in a community it’s important to understand everyone’s goals, because we have to work together somehow or another.”
Vanessa and her husband moved to Golden a few years ago when he got a job in Colorado, and she signed on as a preschool teacher at Front Range Waldorf School in Lakewood. She joined Lookout Mountain Nature Center for two years as a seasonal naturalist and then worked at the Greenway Foundation in its South Platte River Environmental Education program. “I really love Evergreen and I’ve
wanted to be up in the mountains. It’s exciting to be in a community that prioritizes conservation and gets excited about the same things I get excited about.”
Hiking, camping, cycling and snowboarding are favorite pastimes, along with collage art, furniture refinishing and some “pretty mediocre” sewing. But it’s the outdoors that beckons most strongly, whether a swamp or a ponderosa pine forest.
- written by Debbie Marshall