Early childhood, I landed with my family in the coastal mountains outside Santa Cruz, California with two siblings and two dogs on three acres of forest. Though I was very young, I remember wandering enchanted woods, discovering abandoned forts built by children that had since outgrown them, splashing into ponds to catch salamanders, blackberries and poison oak, hunts for imaginary friends lost in the depths of the forest, climbing anything with invitation, dirt stained clothes to be expected. From these mountains, my family moved to Modesto, the middle of the middle of California. The Central Valley had its own set of adventures. Lots missing houses opened habitat for blue belly lizards, fat burrowing toads and squirrels, small snakes, and feral cats. The same brown water drained out from the bathtub as a result of some serious childhood play.
At 16 years, I began volunteering at a backpacking camp in the high Sierra Nevada Mountains right outside of Yosemite National Park in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Camp Jack Hazard became my second home and every summer I returned to welcome my community and respite from scorching valley temperatures. The wilderness smoothed over my cracks and rough edges and the stars sang me to sleep every night. I watched campers grow to love the back country, returning year after year, growing wiser and more aware of their own environmental responsibility.
College school years were spent studying at Modesto Junior College and Humboldt State University. I decided to major in Cultural Anthropology after one of the first and most inspirational semesters in junior college. At the university, I specialized in ancient Latin American cultures of Central America. Along the same lines, learning Spanish became a passion as a result of living deep among a strong Spanish speaking population in the Central Valley and sparked the travel bug. Summer of 2006 was spent between Guatemala and Belize. Summer 2008, I attended the Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca in central southern Mexico as an exchange student. In 2009, I graduated from Humboldt State University with a BA in Cultural Anthropology, minor in Spanish.
After graduation, I worked in a charter school teaching alongside the kindergarten teacher in a Spanish immersion elementary school in Arcata, California. In 2010, I moved to San Jose, California to join AmeriCorps and work for a non-profit called Our City Forest where I worked on a team that focused on managing and enhancing the health of the urban forest.
Early 2012, I began researching opportunities to get my hands dirty with the Student Conservation Association.