Photosynthesis Envy: Building Refuge for Animals and Ourselves

By Brittany Weber:

I have what I like to call, “photosynthesis envy.” To have the ability to take these non-living elements of the world, air and light and water, and turn them into food that can be shared with the whole world – to turn them into medicine that is medicine for people and for trees and for soil…it’s pure magic.

You see, I’m that “type” of person. A love hard-er. I fall in love every day, even if just a little bit, with people, places, and things. Sometimes it’s a puppy running toward me on a trail. Sometimes it’s the feeling I get listening to one of my favorite songs. Other times, it’s the way the wind moves through the fall foliage to expose the seemingly sun-struck leaves and needles on even the cloudiest of days. It’s those simple moments between the bigger ones that sustain us.

I’m on the precipice of a big moment.

If I’m being completely honest with you, and myself, becoming the new Habitat and Sustainability Educator with the National Wildlife Federation is better than a dream come true. I’ve been a park ranger in some of the most remarkable places: Alaska, Utah, and Colorado. I’ve also worked with migrants, immigrants, and refugees to develop programs that provide them with educational, professional, and housing opportunities. But never before have I ever been able to combine my love of the land with my love of people in such a visceral way. (I told you, I’m a lover.)

My main focus for the year is the Missoula Habitat Initiative, which means I’m working to get the city certified as the first Wildlife Habitat Community in all of Montana by working with the absolutely incredible community of Missoula, which is dedicated in protecting and nurturing healthy habitats for wildlife. Not only do I view this as a chance for wildlife to flourish and to be cared for, but I see this as an opportunity for the people of this city to build a web of refuges for themselves, to put their hands into the earth and to reconnect with a pharmacopoeia of healing stories. This is an opportunity that will allow us to imagine a different relationship, in which people and land are good medicine for each other.

Alongside this, I’m involved with supporting and furthering the Eco-Schools USA Program, which helps schools in “greening” their curriculum, while simultaneously raising awareness about the impacts climate change is having on people, wildlife, and beyond. This program is fostering the next generation of environmental stewards through schoolyard habitats, healthy living, energy and waste reduction, water conservation efforts, improving nutrition, food sustainability and more.

I’m excited about this big moment, to be able to combine the things I love and to work in service of both people and wildlife. I want to take what I already know and feel and nurture these things until they blossom. I may not be able to take light and turn it into energy and food like the plants I so dearly love, but I can continue to learn from the steadfast resiliency of nature. After all, there is still so much left to learn. img_4143


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