I was born in Minnesota and grew up around lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Most of my favorite memories of Minnesota involve sunny days on the lake watching tadpoles, minnows, and other creatures dart about among the cattails and reeds.
I was famous for frequently having a rescued frog or salamander in my pocket and I always captured spiders found in the house for release back into the wild.
It wasn’t a surprise then, when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. My love of the the outdoors, wild creatures, and every kind of plant flourished and grew.
I gardened, hosted mason bees, cultivated community outdoor spaces with ecosystems that encouraged pollinators and other beneficial insects to make their homes there.
Yet, even among the mountains and vast, untouched wildernesses of the Pacific Northwest, the draw I felt towards water was irresistible and ever present. I hiked, swam, kayaked, white water rafted, canoed, windsurfed, and sailed the waters all around me.
But it wasn’t until I first snorkeled in the Caribbean and saw a coral reef that I truly found my home.
I was utterly overwhelmed by the intensity of colors, the diversity of forms, and the sheer volume of life on the reef.
I snorkeled every waking moment that first trip and every trip thereafter.
I eventually got certified to Scuba dive and the underwater world opened up even more.
With each next step I took, I realized I wanted more. At some point not so long ago, I realized I this is what I wanted my life to be about – working with coral reefs. I began taking classes towards earning a degree in Marine science.
And as one thing leads to another, I finally decided to take an enormous step by moving to the Florida Keys to make coral reefs my life.