Perhaps the best description of what I do is Applied Natural History. In both my teaching and research I search for ways to connect humans back to their local environment. I am the founder and current education director of Ithaca College Natural Lands natural reserve system, the head of I.C.'s program in non-timber forest products, a master beekeeper and manager of I.C's apiary and honey bee education program, and co-creator of the Ithaca College IC2 program in integrative learning. Outside of Ithaca College, I co-founded New Roots Charter School - a high school dedicated to sustainability education and preparing young people for the new green economy. You can check out the work we are doing in non-timber forest product here http://southhillforestproducts.squarespace.com
and our work at the apiary here https://www.southhillapiaries.com
My passion in teaching is providing students opportunities for experiential, integrative, transformative, education. I strive to be a teaching innovator and the line between my teaching and research is sometimes quite fuzzy. I use Ithaca College's living classrooms for classes such as Environmental Sentinels, Farming the Forest, Tracking and the Art of Seeing, and Introduction to Herbalism. In all of these courses my goal is to help students build their own Local Ecological Knowledge System (LEKS – see below). To this end, I integrate natural history, nature awareness, academic ecology, medicinal plants, animal tracking, and wilderness living skills into my classes.
My research program is multi-faceted, but can be defined broadly as focusing in the area of sustainability science – the new discipline that considers humans and their local and global environments as one complex social-ecological system. The goal of sustainability science is to study the interactions between natural and social systems, and understand how those interactions affect the challenges of sustainability. The combination of the ecologically-oriented parts and the human-oriented parts of my research program come together in my current work using Traditional Ecological Knowledge Systems (TEKS) and Local Ecological Knowledge Systems (LEKS) to engage scientists and non-scientists alike in monitoring ecological change in our human-altered environment.