I believe that stories are what connect us, so I wanted to share a bit of mine.

Born and raised in rural Missouri Ozarks near abundant public lands, I came to know and love the outdoors at a pretty young age. Whether it was kayaking the Black River, helping my parents garden, or learning about local wildlife, I was curious about it all. Except snakes…I wasn’t too keen on learning about those guys. I am happy to report I’ve gotten over that fear! When I think back to the early days, many of my fondest memories are drawn from time spent outdoors with family and friends. Sometimes our family camping trips would involve a two-day car ride out west; full of hiking, biking, and beautiful sights. Other times, it involved my sisters and I planning a “camping trip” in the backyard where roasting s’mores over a candle was slated to be our main activity.

College gifted me a move across the state to Southwest Missouri, where I attended Missouri State University to obtain my degree in Exercise and Movement Science. I loved learning all about the intersection of the human body and movement as it relates to public health. I kept myself busy between the classes, extracurriculars, social life, and my first job working in a nonprofit. My camping trips were replaced with student government meetings and human nutrition classes that made me question my obsession with s’mores…but that’s neither here, nor there.

Graduation came quick so I packed up my belongings and headed to St. Louis, Missouri. I had a new job, new apartment, and a newfound love for house plants. That love quickly turned my one small succulent into over fifty thriving plants! My experience with the YMCA polished my skills in outreach and partnership support. I immersed myself in city life and jumped into a role that allowed me to build relationships with local organizations, bolstering volunteerism at Washington University in St. Louis. I believe this is when I found out what really fills my cup: working to be a cause-driven leader that ignites positive change. And, well, the rest is history!

Something I’ve really embraced this last year is trying new, sometimes scary things and practicing resiliency. I think if you looked up the definition of “humbled” you’d find a picture of me attempting to get off the ski lift for the first time and tumbling over my snowboard. Still working on mastering the dismount, I look forward to getting back out there this winter. All that aside, I am absolutely thrilled to jump in and continue learning how to bring people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands. I feel incredibly lucky to be working in a field that has played a big role in my life, both as a youngster and now.

I am grateful for all the experiences that led me here and I’m excited for this next adventure. In my role as the Reforestation Partnerships Associate, I’m your go-to gal for all things supporting small business partnerships and peer-to-peer fundraisers for the NFF’s campaign to plant 50 million trees!

National Forest Foundation