Animals and teaching and working with kids – I just love all of those things. This job does all of that.
I moved out here to attend Goshen College in 1996. When I was in college, I got connected with the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center and started doing some outdoor education-type classes. I did an internship there for a year.
At the end of that internship I was thinking, ‘Oh my word, what am I going to do now? What’s the next job?’ It turned out that the person who had my current position before me also had a connection with Merry Lea. She happened to be visiting the week I was in turmoil. She said, ‘Krista, you should apply for my job because I’m leaving.’ And so that’s exactly what I did. I got the position with Elkhart County Parks back in 2001 and I’ve been here ever since.
I’ve always been a naturalist. My current title is interpretive naturalist manager.
We do education programs. That might be a field trip for a school group coming out to Ox Bow Park, or we might take supplies to a classroom and speak about mammals. We talk to a lot of adult groups, as well, like a civic organization or a library program. Basically, we’re talking about local flora and fauna, teaching about ecology or biological systems. It just kind of depends on the audience and what the request is. We travel all throughout the county. That’s the majority of what I do.
When people ask, ‘Why do you do what you do?,’ I answer, ‘It is important work.’ It is an important job. We are all a part of this ecosystem, all relying on natural resources. Understanding more about that is so important to help us to know how we fit in, how what we do can affect the other animals that we’re sharing the space with, the plants. It’s just kind of understanding our place in that whole system. That’s why I do what I do.
I just love our diversity in Goshen. I like that, as a whole, we’re very accepting and encouraging of different cultures. We’re very welcoming and open. I have a husband and two kids, and we’ve had a great experience in Goshen. It’s been wonderful.
Writing and editing by Scott Weisser and Neil King
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