John Foster
It seemed to me that I should supply a bit of a biography about myself. I apologize in advance, for being so self-centered, generally I let nature do all the talking and I just do the interpreting. I feel it is very important to differentiate my unique style of environmental education from the other usual styles.

I have, over many years, established myself as a leading naturalist (environment educator). I have conducted wildlife research for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Mass. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, several area land trusts and independently for my own needs. Also, I've trained staff for Americorps, Mass. Department of Environmental Management, Project Learning Tree, National Park and Audubon. I have worked on ecotourism projects; leading the North Quabbin Woods Ecotourism Guide training initiative and have worked with U.S. Rep. John Olver's Task force on Ecotourism. I have written natural history articles for the likes of Yankee, Wild Earth and Backpacker. I am a Commonwealth Award nominee for excellence and leadership as a naturalist; the state's highest awards for a variety of Humanities. I conduct my own commercial (fee based) naturalist programs throughout New England. Well know organization like the Appalachian Mountain Club, Trustees of the Reservations, Highland Community Initiative, Harvard Natural History Museum, Boston Science Museum, New England Wildflower Society and Audubon have hired me to lead programs for their membership. I have had articles written about my work from Hartford to Portland and have appeared several times on television. I am very familiar with New England's flora and fauna, having reported information on species populations, ranging from terrestrial to aquatic, and plant to animal for the region's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Programs (NHES).
Occasionally, I sponsor luminaries of Natural History. I lead a team that brought Dr. Lynn Rogers, an expert on black bears, on a tour of New England. And helped Jon Young , a tracking expert, come and present at Amherst College.
My unique, ecology focused, hands-on programs have been crafted from many years of extensive training, field experience and deep knowledge. Each and every program has extensive research behind it and often many miles of field proofing and ground truthing (boots in the woods).

I design programs that are far from run of the mill. My unique presentations rely on my extensive knowledge of nature and infectious enthusiasm. The central message in all my programs is a "Macro view of the Micro aspects of Nature." This view, the big picture made up of small pieces, allows the participant to understand much more of the whole aspect of nature, creating a foundation of knowledge and understanding. In short, I teach Ecology. C. Darwin said "Nothing exists for itself alone." This type of instruction strengthens the participants understanding and comprehension. It's not just a Moose or a Hookers Orchid, but an indication of a complete relationship with the existing environment. Whether I am teaching you how to track and read animal signs, studying trees/plants, or knee deep in a swamp; I will use this "whole bag" focus. My participants, armed with this focus, enter nature study uniquely equipped to observe, understand and enjoy.

Within the letters of thanks I receive are descriptive words like informative, superb, excellent teacher, impressed, completely new light, fortunate and surprised. These words of praise inspire me to continue to raise my own professional standards and level of educational efforts.
A question I get sometimes, is 'who inspired you?', the kernel of the question is what person or persons had the most influence on you to be a naturalist. I have, generally, dragged up some name like John Muir or Burrows and if the person is really different, I'll drop Enos Mills. My answers to that question has never satisfied me. The underlying problem is the real answer is "nobody but nature". I remember most the big boundary Ash tree, the small spruce swamp that I played in as a kid, all of Mount Greylock, Indian cucumbers along the logging road, the owl killed rabbit and the spruce grouse tracks on top of Mt. Mansfield at 6 am.
During the most important times, I have wandered nature with no goal but to be with nature. I wandered during winter, night, day, spring, summer and fall. I climbed a mountain in August to be closer to a lightning storm and eat hail and blueberries as the power of nature presented itself electrifyingly close, death and beauty stood on either side of me. I stalked up on a sleeping Coyote. (it was sleeping in a bush and woke it as I tried to reach into the bush to touch it, damn!) Walked with my first black bear, allowing it to lead me. I saw nature in all her times. I worked odd jobs to keep gas in my tank. I was on top of the highest mountain in VT at midnight with air temps of -40 F. I turned my soul over to nature. I became an apostle, something I had always wanted, even as a kid growing up in the 60's and 70's.

In 1992 I walked on fire. Walking on fire altered the very path of my life forever. It was to help me forge a new axel on which my universe was to turn. Nothing was or could be as it was, everything changed. It was as if I had been lifted from a muddy stream and placed upon a mountaintop. I could see everything in all directions. It offered me a foundation of clarity and true that was stronger and more present than anything I had ever felt. It gave me the courage to turn my life back in the direction of mother nature, a direction I had travel before but left. The longings of my return to mother earth were now an absolute and undeniable power enameled with clarity and conviction. The mission became a mission.
As you can see there was nobody and everybody involved in my path. Nature however, stood at each intersection, her hand constantly upon my shoulder, her breath on my check, her strength rose from the ground. It is the complete beauty and presents of nature from a single stone in a stream to an entire ecosystem that I struggle to interpret for my students. Each time I see the flicker of Nature in the eyes of a student it powers me to reach further as an educator, to raise my own bar of excellence higher.
Life is incredible,


John Foster



PO Box 220
Northfield, MA 01360
413-522-4056
foster@nentc.com
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New England
Naturalist Training Center