Discovery Southeast's Nature as an Educator Writing Project was developed as a degree requirement for my MFA program in creative writing at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. As a naturalist educator, I am deeply interested in the lessons nature provides. As an aspiring writer, I want people to share these experiences in prose so we too can learn from them.
In the project’s inaugural run, I was pleased to work with Kevin O’Malley, Cathleen Balantic, and Richard Stokes. O’Malley’s piece, “Road Kill,” vividly describes a Juneau-based interaction between his students, a dead porcupine, and coyotes. The piece explores the energy cycle and how we can learn from death. O’Malley’s ability to build scene is particularly enjoyable. In "Thank You, Bees" Balantic takes the reader into an urban classroom in Atlanta and shows us that nature education can happen anywhere. Her use of humor and dialogue are especially effective. Stokes’s piece, “Not the Last Child Left in the Woods,” is about the importance of wooded areas in a child’s life. Like Balantic, Stokes takes us to Georgia where he makes forts from “aromatic fronds” of dog fennel and hickory saplings. His choice of language lends the piece a lyrical feel and is particularly apropos for a memoir-like piece from the south.
I hope this collection will grow over time. If you are interested in participating please contact us. Content-wise, we are simply after stories that exemplify nature’s ability to teach. The stories can include traditional learning situations like O’Malley and Balantic’s, or can offer unique perspectives that may only include the narrator. Works can be as long or as short as they need to be. Thank you for your interest.
May the forest be with you,
Nature as an Educator Writing Project
Read the pieces here: