We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Being entrepreneurial is inherently risky. Taking risks requires courage to step out into the world and bravery to show up as your best self. Stepping out into the freelance world as an environmental educator took incredible courage and to continue in this work each and every day strong in conviction to my work and my community requires my brave self. Developing Wild Rose Education into a viable woman owned small business over the past six years has been a wild adventure. Sometimes I want to quit because it is so difficult, and thankfully most of the time it is such a blessing as I get to bring my whole self into my work through effective environmnetal education. I get to teach others to ‘see’ the world around them, to become better observers, and take action in the world through participant-centered learning experiences. I find the spaces inbetween what already exists in communities and the education sphere, and then offer something else, something new, something that allows participants to go beyond what has been. Wild Rose Education creates opportunities for participants to authentically become active parts of their communities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a professional environmental education specialist and interdisciplinary landscape-based educator. This means I teach people ‘how to see’ the landscape, themselves as part of community, and skills on how to deeply investigate one’s concerns and find ways to take action to make change for the betterment of society. At Wild Rose Education we teach people ‘how to see’, to become better observers, and take action in the world through participant-centered learning experiences. We go beyond what has been and facilitate becoming what can be.
Over the past few years I have been lucky and blessed (through significant hard work and tenacity) to make my passion my livelihood through Wild Rose Education. Working as a freelance environmnetal educator is not conventional nor do many people succeed in making it a viable endeavour to pay the bills. I believe it is through the power of authentic relationships and strong professional networks that I have been successful. There are not RFPs (request for proposals) for this type of work. Instead it is through people, listening for opportunities, and being nimble and quick to respond that have landed me really meaningful long lasting projects. Also my commitment to strong values, my tenacious spirit, and unfettering work ethic has made it all possible.
Typically, the participants in my educational programming are educators seeking professional development tools and community to teach about climate change, young people who are driven and motivated to everything they can to slow down climate change, and others who are seeking examples and solutions of what resilience in today’s world looks like in the face of climate change. I teach people who are ready to learn and get to work to make the world a better place.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado has been my home since 2006 and I would be thrilled to share it with my best friend this summer. We would fill a week with culture and wilderness with a thrifty spirit. The week would include cooking meals using fresh picked vegetables and greens from my garden and enjoying sharing potlucks with friends in the city park near my house. We would explore town on our bicycles enjoying the art sculptures around town along the way. Listening to live music in the park while sharing small bites and drinks would be part of our week for sure. Maybe if we are lucky a late afternoon rainstorm will result in the most spectacular rainbow. Here in this valley, there are rainbows more often than not. Exploring down by the river and possibly even trying our hands at fly fishing during the evening could be a great way to wind down the day.Throughout the week hiking to unnamed mountain meadows full of wildflowers and a dip in a cold high alpine lake will keep us healthy and fully alive. Finally, visits to the best thrift shops and used outdoor gear shops in the West would be had before sharing more with friends during front yard dinners and watching the full moon come up in the eastern sky over the peaks.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been blessed with mentors from so many facets of my life. Academically and professionally, the people and leadership of Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and the North American Association for Environmental Education have influenced and supported the development of my work significantly over the years. My colleagues and friends at Western Colorado University’s Clark School of Environment and Sustainability Center for Mountain Transitions are continuing to encourage me and give me room to grow and expand as I take on the role of Director of the Mountain Resilience Semester. Personally, I am strongly influenced by and find support through many publications, authors, and organizations. Those of which who rise to the top of my list at this time include Fr. Richard Rohr, Terry Tempest Williams, Pope Francis, Aldo Leopold, Orion Magazine, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Craig Childs, Krista Tippett, and the Center for Action and Contemplation. And finally, my parents, Frank and Theresa Johnson are the most solid, dependable long lasting mentors and friends one could ever wish for.
First photo with watermark is credited to Andrea Holland. All the rest can be credited to Wild Rose Education.