What do you do?
I write books for kids who are wild about animals. The weirder, the wackier, the better. What that really means, is that I get to: follow my curiosity wherever it leads, search out the most fascinating facts, and go into the field with scientists who study the coolest animals ever.
Why did you choose this field?
It wasn't until 7th grade that I figured out that all of my favorite things - mucking through the marsh, catching critters, climbing trees - were actually this thing called "science." Thanks Mrs. Walton! I got a degree in biology and a masters degree in environmental education. For years I taught science in the great outdoors. We hiked up canyons, sampled water from waterfalls, canoed into a lesson about geology... But it wasn't until I had gray hair that I figured out how to make my words reach beyond one class - how to make my words reach around the world.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I always saw research as some boring assignment from a teacher. I wish I had realized that when I ask the questions, when I wade into my topic (literally), when I put my fingers to the keyboard, I am in charge -- and that means I can take my writing where ever I want it to go.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I get to study adorable koalas! I get to climb rock bluffs looking for endangered species. I get to fly across the country to meet my idols - women who save wild animals' lives!
Best advice for next generation?
Inquiry is my life! Make it yours, too.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
Inaturalist is my favourite app. You can upload an observation (spot a cougar? a flower blooming out of season? a rambunctious river otter?). Then add that data to a project (track pollinators in your park, mark where roadkill happens, let folks know which crayfish live near you). Other naturalists will verify your identification. You can also look up information in one of the user-created guides (find a weed in New York City? They've got you covered).