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What's in a Nature Name?

We are so excited to announce the launch of our new website! We would love it if you took a minute to check it out!

In navigating our wonderful new website, some of you may have noticed we have two names in our staff bibliographies. And we are not just talking about first and last names! Here at Sierra Outdoor School, some school groups choose to attend a class called Talk About Trees, where students learn the important uses of trees and their physiology. Then students receive a tree cookie necklace where they write their given name on one side, and a nature name on the other!

Let's take a look at how our staff got their nature names!


Maggie (Monarch): My "Nature Name" was given to me by another Naturalist "Half-dome" years ago when we first began using them. Half-dome was referring to the Monarch Butterfly when adorning me with this special name.

Ed (Squirrel): I was given my nature name when I was in college because I wasn't able to sit still, ever. I always had to be doing something, like a squirrel collecting acorns.

Traci (Beetle): Named after her childhood idol from the Hollywood blockbuster film Beetlejuice. Just kidding :-)While she does love that movie, she chose this nature name because she felt bugs were under-represented in the nature name world even though there are three times as many insect species as all other animals species on Earth! 3/4 of all insect species are beetles and who doesn't love lady bugs?

Phil (Badger):  Need I say more?

Thomas (Otter): Similar to otters, Thomas can often be seen in or close to water. Other shared attributes include being mammals, being furry and being adorable.

Naturalist Interns:

Alicia (Acorn): Alicia received her nature name from her fellow interns during their first week at SOS, as she was pretending to be an acorn in a Silent Mile training class. She loves oak trees and appreciates acorns because of their importance as a food source for many forest animals!

Alli (Ocean):  I was given my nature name by a close friend during a trip down in Big Sur, CA.  We saw whales, sand dollars and flew kites on the beach. The ocean has always been one of my favorite environments to explore and learn about, both by foot and by boat, and it fills me with so much joy!

Britta (Aspen):  I chose the nature name Aspen because Aspen trees are my favorite type of tree! They are one of the largest living organisms on earth, have pain-relieving properties in their bark, and are especially beautiful when their leaves change in the fall!

Deanna (Doe): Because who doesn't enjoy bursting into song?! "Doe, a deer! A female deer!"  This name was actually given to me by my fellow interns but I've always had a great appreciation for this majestic animal.  During my first month of work here at SOS, I was playing my ukulele near the ditch and 3 deer walked out of the woods and onto the trail almost as if to hear me play.  I decided at that magical moment that the other interns had chosen a fitting nature name for me and that I might just be a Disney princess.

Jocelyn (Snail): Jocelyn highly admires this incredible invertebrate. Similar to snails who are found all over the world and travel with their home on their back, Jocelyn has spent a lot of her time traveling the globe with a pack on her back.

Sarah (Cricket): Sarah grew up in a house high on the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lulled to sleep each night by the music of crickets outside her window. She also loves to sing!

Tommy (Spider): Tommy's fascination with spiders (and other insects) started at a young age. His respect and admiration for the 300 million year old species lead him to the nickname of the most common arachnid.


Janelle (Bluegill): Something fishy is going on over here...the state fish of her home state, IL!

Diann (Oak Leaf): Many years ago, Diann was thrown a birthday party, and the host asked the guests to bring a plant, flower, or part of a plant that best represented her.  Her older sister brought an Oak Leaf to the party because some of the symbolism of the Oak Tree (by Celtic beliefs) means strength, endurance, generosity, wisdom, honesty, and protection.  Since then, her older sister has called her Lil' Oak Leaf as a nickname... so when Diann was asked to come up with a nature name, she didn't have to, she already had one!

Hopefully you will get a chance to get closer to nature, have wonderful experiences, and even earn a nature name. What will your nature name be?


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