Why did you choose to go into conservation?

I grew up participating in a number of outdoor educational programs and am a life-long Girl Scout. These activities helped instill a love and great appreciation for our environment. At the same time, a passion for politics and advocacy was fostered through connections with wonderful professors at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The combination of these experiences gave me a particular interest in American Forests’ work, as we address the “boots on the ground” side as well as the policy side of protecting and rebuilding our ecosystems.

What aspects of American Forests’ work are you most excited to be a part of?

Working in communications, my goal is always to express big ideas to as many people as I can. American Forests has so many impressive projects and plans for the future, so I’m excited to have a chance to spread the reach of our mission, as well as educate more people along the way about the importance of conservation. I love that in my role, I get to convey the importance of every aspect of American Forests’ work.

What do you think are the most significant challenges facing forests today?

I think people realize we need to be taking drastic steps to make changes in our environment but there is often a disconnect between knowing that you need to do something and actually taking the steps to do it. Additionally, there seems to be a similar disconnect between those working in conservation and the general public. Once again, this is somewhere I hope to really make an impact. It will be my goal at American Forests to motivate those who care about our wildlife and forests into action. I want to show people the power of their actions and really make conservation personal to them.

Do you have a favorite story from your years in the field?

Recreationally, I have racked up more “worst case scenario” stories than one person ever should. From camping in record low temperatures in Banff National Forest to tornado touchdowns while camping in the Midwest, there was a time where it seemed unsafe to have me as a camping buddy. Despite the cold or soggy conditions, these trips always proved to build the strongest memories among friends. Professionally, I had the opportunity to do some education-based programming in southeast India last year and waking up to the sound of monkeys playing on the roof of our cottage was a highlight. We were living in a small, oasis-like, natural space within a larger city that gave me an even greater appreciation of the impact of urban forest projects.

What is your favorite tree and why?

The summer camp I grew up going to was thick with sassafras trees and they were always my favorite. I was fascinated by the variety of leaf shapes and loved the scent of “fruity cereal” when you crushed the leaves. Currently, I have a slight obsession and great appreciation for the jackfruit tree. The fruit can grow to be a hundred pounds each, with each tree producing upwards of 150 fruit annually. Studies now link jackfruit consumption to solving world hunger issues. Proof that if we take care of our forests, they can take care of us, too!