#52: Michelle Fullner, Golden State Naturalist, and Nature’s Archive at Two Years

#52: The Golden State Naturalist Michelle Fullner, and Nature's Archive at 2 Years Old! Nature's Archive


Today’s episode is a bit unique. As I mentioned in my monthly newsletter a couple months ago, I’ve been very impressed with a new podcast called Golden State Naturalist. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with its creator, Michelle Fullner, a couple of times, and thought it would be fun to discuss her rapid success, and expose more people to her work. One of my goals with Nature’s Archive was to find inspiring people charting unique ways to help the environment, and Michelle fits the bill!

Michelle Fullner, Golden State Naturalist Creator

And at the same time I’m at a moment of transition. I hit 50 episodes and two years of Nature’s Archive over the last few months, and I’m working hard to get my new nonprofit, Jumpstart Nature, launched. I also wanted to share more about this journey with all of you, too. I hope this gives you all insight into what makes me tick, and what I have in my pipeline.

So Michelle and I agreed to interview each other about our podcasts, some of the fun, surprising, and dreadful things we’ve encountered, and what’s next in our plans and metaphorical journeys.

If you haven’t listened to Golden State Naturalist, Michelle gets out in the field with experts to discuss unique parts of California’s nature. She’s covered geology, giant sequoias, beavers, oak trees, and more. It’s authentic, entertaining, and educational.

And the more traditional Nature’s Archive episodes continue in two weeks. I have a great set of topics recorded or in the queue, ranging from forest management to raptors to slime molds. What fun!

What a Wonderful Logo – Created by Michelle Fullner

You can find Golden State Naturalist on any podcast app, or by going to the website. Michelle is also on instagram, so be sure to check her out!

So without additional delay, my discussion with Michelle Fullner.

Did you have a question that I didn’t ask? Let me know at naturesarchivepodcast@gmail.com, and I’ll try to get an answer! I’ll add these Q&As to my monthly newsletter, so if you aren’t already subscribed, go here. I promise, no spam. I share the latest news from the world of Nature’s Archive, as well as pointers to new naturalist finds that have crossed my radar, like podcasts, books, websites, and more.

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People and Organizations

California Naturalist Program information

Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA [instagram]

Golden State Naturalist Podcast

Sacramento Tree Foundation

Books and Other Things

Note: links to books are affiliate links

Music Credits

Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed

Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed

Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/


Transcripts are automatically created, and are about 95% accurate. Apologies for any errors.

[00:00:00] Michael: Michelle, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m really excited to talk about your new podcast.

[00:00:04] Michelle: Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m super happy to be here.

[00:00:08] Michael: Yeah. And I say new podcast, but I think you just released your 10th episode, the Sequoia episode.

[00:00:14] Michelle: Yeah, that was number 10. Super exciting. It’s kinda weird. How fast it’s gone already?

[00:00:20] Michael: Yeah. And first of all, I’m talking about your podcast as if everybody knows what I’m talking about. So tell me about it. I’ll reveal the name golden state naturalist, but what’s your mission? Why did you start it?

[00:00:32] Michelle: I started it, it’s funny. It, I was thinking about what’s my mission for this podcast. And I was like, oh no, I’m supposed to have a mission. But I think that really, it’s a, it’s an exploration of curiosity and like encouraging a. Mindset. And so the inspiration for it was taking my California naturalist certification.

[00:00:51] I did that at Effie Yeaw nature center here in Sacramento, and that’s where I’m located. And as the program wound down, I had already done my capstone. I had already done all that and I started panicking oh no, I’m not gonna get to come to this class anymore. I’m not gonna get to learn all this stuff anymore.

[00:01:07] So I started actually looking for a podcast that was something similar, like a California based nature podcast and focusing on California and the bio regions, the ecology, the geology, all that kind of stuff. And, I did find some podcast, but they weren’t quite exactly what I was looking for.

[00:01:26] And I just decided, I was like, you know what? I, I could try, like I could make one. So that’s just what I did. And it’s just been a journey since then.

[00:01:34] Michael: That’s awesome. It’s the entrepreneur spirit. You’re looking for something. It doesn’t exist. So you make it yourself.

[00:01:40] Michelle: I guess so that was my first time experiencing that. Usually there’s like too many things out there that I’m like I’m overwhelmed.

[00:01:47] Michael: Yeah. California is such a great place to do something like this. , I live in California too. I don’t, I’ve, some of the listeners probably think I have a California bias because of that. But you just look at the diversity here from deserts to 14,000 foot mountains, Ponderosa pine down to coastal redwoods to, coastal Sage brush.

[00:02:08] I don’t know. I don’t wanna list all the bio regions, but there have been so many studies that talk about biodiversity and outside of the tropics, California is at the top of the list many times. So I think you have. many more than 10 episodes ahead of you.

[00:02:20] Michelle: Oh, yeah. I have this running list. It’s like a Google doc and I’m constantly adding things to it. And it’s just, I’m convinced that there are infinite possible California nature related topics. Which is fine, you know, I’ll never get to all of them, but they’re all there. And if I find somebody who’s a good guest on one of those topics, then I’ll jump,

[00:02:38] Michael: Yeah. It’s like nature itself. You can, all the relationships that exist between plants and animals and, the ecology, essentially the bio geography, the, you know, you start digging deeper into the DNA. Like it just never ends.

[00:02:50] Michelle: it’s true. It’s really true. It’s amazing. You the longer you look, the more the world opens up.

[00:02:57] Michael: . Very inspiring. And, so actually that’s maybe a good lead in to what was it about nature that inspired you in the first place? How did you connect with nature? You went to. California naturalist class. There is probably some connection prior to that, I assume.

[00:03:10] Michelle: Yeah, for sure. So I just, it’s funny. I think that I loved nature a lot as a. And when I was seven years old, my family moved out of our house because by long story, but my parents wanted to save up instead of renting. They wanted to save up for down payment for a house. And so we moved into a 19 foot long camping trailer on my great-grandfather’s property, which was in the Hills, the Eastern Hills of the Napa valley.

[00:03:37] And he had 32 acres. And so my brother and I had to share a bed and my parents were in the top bunk. And so it was a very tiny living space. And my poor mom tried to homeschool us. But my brother and I just pieced out like every morning and went outside and explored my poor mom was like trying to wrangle us.

[00:03:56] Right. And effectively we didn’t learn a lot academically that year. But we did do a lot of exploring outdoors and a lot of flipping over logs and catching bats with our bare hands. And we had terrariums. These poor animals, right? Like I feel really bad for them in retrospect. But it was a great opportunity to explore nature and get hands on and climb trees and find, giant grinding stones that this property that we were on is actually native land.

[00:04:23] And it was like firsthand experience with that. And so that instilled a really deep love, but then I never really was great at science in school. I always felt like there was so much memorization, which I’m really bad at. I will forget things immediately, as soon as I learned them.

[00:04:38] And I could never see really the big picture a lot of times. I did have some really excellent, there were a couple of really good science classes that I had, which I’m forever grateful for, but in general, I never really connected with it. I really connected with English. And so I ended up pursuing that and becoming an English teacher.

[00:04:55] And I always had this feeling like I should do something with nature. I should do something outdoors or with animals or with, the environment, but I never really found my way into that. So this has been a journey back, like maybe through those English skills through the communication side.

[00:05:12] Maybe that’s my way in, to this world,

[00:05:15] Michael: Yeah there’s certainly a need for better communication. in the environmental space. And I see you fulfilling that. So what was it about this class that you took? How did you find out about it or what turned you on to that idea?

[00:05:28] Michelle: Honestly, I had no idea about the California naturalist program at all. I just follow Effie Yeaw nature center on, Instagram or Facebook or wherever it was that I was following them. and they posted something just because, they’re in the city that I live in and it’s a place where I take my little tiny kids at the time.

[00:05:47] I think when I first got interested, my kids were like, under one year old, my baby was like less than a year old. And my older one was, one and a half or two. And they posted about it on their social media. And I was like, oh my goodness. Yeah let’s do this, got signed up, went to the first class that was beginning of March, 2020.

[00:06:08] The class, of course, got that, got delayed postponed and took me until last fall to be able to get it figured out again between my husband’s work schedule and childcare and all of that to make it happen, be with an evening class commitment. To make that possible.

[00:06:26] So finally got it done. And that’s how I connected with it.

[00:06:29] Michael: I think for people listening, we’re talking about the California naturalist program, which is supported and sponsored by the university system. And I just wanted to mention that most states actually have some sort of similar program like master naturalist is what a lot of states tend to call them.

[00:06:45] So if you’re listening right now thinking wait, I don’t have a California naturalist program in Nebraska or wherever you might be. Well, There’s actually a master naturalist program in Nebraska. That you can take part in, which is very similar. Seek it out if this sounds interesting to you.

[00:07:01] Michelle: It’s so great. It’ll and I don’t know too much about the ones outside of California, but I would imagine that in a similar way, they give you such a great sense of place. In the environment surrounding you, and how that was geologically formed and the flora and the fauna. And, ah it’s so cool.

[00:07:17] Michael: So you finally pandemic, delayed, but finally were able to complete the program. What was, so what I did the program to, and there’s a capstone that you have to do. What did you choose for your cap?

[00:07:29] Michelle: Mine was actually just collecting acorns for the sack tree foundation. So it was a really cool opportunity to go out and. actually with one of my guests, Zara, Wiley, she was working for the sack tree foundation and took us all out, took a group of us out to identify, okay, here’s what a blue Oak looks like.

[00:07:47] Here’s what a valley Oak looks like. Here’s what an interior live Oak looks like. Cuz those are the three that they were collecting and they’re doing restoration projects around the city of Sacramento with native Oak trees, which was so cool to be able to be part of that. So I got to go out, learn about all the different types of Oaks, what their acorns look like, how to make sure they’re not hybridizing with other Oak trees around them, how much they have to be isolated, all of that collect acorns and then give them to sack tree.

[00:08:13] And so I, I mostly in my area collected value, Oak acorns for.

[00:08:17] Michael: That is like super important foundational. In California because number one is, as you said, in your podcast episode, Oak trees are so important Keystone species for so many different animals. And then you got into a lot of depth in looking at hybridization, which, Oaks are crazy in terms of how they hybridize.

[00:08:35] Learning the basic Oak trees and all that other information like that is a super start.

[00:08:39] Michelle: it was very cool. And I just I would love to participate again this year.

[00:08:43] Michael: Yeah. And again, that’s another thing that’s no matter where you live, I would recommend learn your Oak trees is always a good thing. If you have naturalist intentions, because they’re just, they’re even in Europe, , Oak trees are really important there too. Learn your Oak trees. Yeah.

[00:08:59] Michelle: That makes sense.

[00:09:00] Michael: Okay.

[00:09:00] As we talked about your 10 episodes into the podcast, and you mentioned the Oak. Podcast. You’ve had an entomologist you’ve you’ve had a number of interesting guests already. Can you run through some of the highlights from the first 10 episodes? Just so listeners have a sense and maybe you can go and listen for themselves.

[00:09:19] Michelle: Sure. Yeah. It’s been so fun. I think one, the very first episode was geology and specifically California geology. So how did this state get to be here? That was the foundation. And I wanted to put that first because it sets the scene, here’s the bedrock, the literal bedrock and what goes on top of that?

[00:09:38] And Nate, Manley’s fantastic communicator, fantastic geologist taught a community college, which shows you, he knows how to communicate this stuff. I’m a huge I’ve mentioned before. I love community colleges. So I’m like, yes, Nate community college teacher. So he went through all that, talked about the San Andrea’s fault as well, and a little bit about plate tectonics and gave this really great overview of how California got to be here.

[00:10:02] So that’s the first one. And then I went into salmon just because I knew somebody from the naturalist program who was just fantastic and just had this gravity to him where people wanna listen to him. So we talked about salmon Keystone species. There’s actually two episodes on that after that. Oh my goodness.

[00:10:20] One of the ones that I really had a lot of fun doing was Vernal pools. Vernal pools are amazing. I, and I had no idea about them. This was like brand new to me. So it was, that was really cool. And then yeah this recent one with Sequoia is people are really loving it and I think connecting with it because these trees are so iconic and I learned a lot about them through this episode too.

[00:10:40] Michael: Yeah. And unfortunately, right now there’s a wildfire threatening. One of the groves in Yosemite. The, I think it’s called the Washburn fire.

[00:10:47] Michelle: Mm-hmm Lamar Posta Grove. Yeah.

[00:10:48] Michael: Yeah. And it’s approached it, but they’re right now, it’s not the fire’s not growing towards the Grove. So fingers crossed that they’re able to hold it off and get control.

[00:10:59] Michelle: I know. Yeah.

[00:11:00] Michael: There aren’t many of these groves left.

[00:11:02] Michelle: There’s I think 70 neighborhood of 70 groves of giant sequoias in the world. So it’s yeah, it’s super scary. Okay. So we’ve been talking a lot about golden state naturalist and these 10 episodes, but you’re hitting 50 right now. You’re on your 50th episode. That’s so exciting.

[00:11:16] Michael: Yeah. It, I never would’ve imagined it and in fact, it’s a little bit more than 50 because I’ve put a few solo episodes out that I don’t really count. But when I started, I had gotten advice to at least do 10, commit to 10 and see where it goes from there. And I remember when I was on like five or six, I was like, oh, I’m never gonna make it to 10.

[00:11:37] But suddenly here. I am at 50 and that’s two years. That’s over two years.

[00:11:41] Michelle: Two years. That’s a, so how did let’s back up a little bit, cuz I’m curious about your origin story. Where did the inspiration for nature’s archive come.

[00:11:51] Michael: The name nature’s archive actually came up with that way back, probably in 2006 or 2007 or something like that. And I had gotten interested in hiking and visiting national parks.

[00:12:03] And with photography and birding, I wanted a place to put my photos. So I came up with the name nature’s archive. I thought it made sense for a photography, but I would say that I, from a nature standpoint was pretty stagnant for a long time. , I had a growing family. I had career, requirements and a move and, you name it life basically life.

[00:12:25] And it didn’t really ever fully pursue. The photography side. I would post a few photos, but I think when I got to the bay area, when I moved here in 2011, after settling in, after a couple of years, I started connecting up with local groups like the open space authority in Santa Clara valley and the society and getting out and expanding my horizons and seeing there’s a lot more nature out there understanding that it’s not just national parks, it’s not just even state parks, there’s wonderful places.

[00:12:58] And I think probably about five years ago, I realized that I wasn’t getting as much fulfillment from my tech job. I’m a, I say this in present tense, but that’s actually no longer true. I was a middle manager at Google managing an international team of engineers and developing new data products and.

[00:13:20] I really enjoyed working with the people and the systematics challenges of that job, but I wasn’t really just getting the deep fulfillment. And about five years ago, I decided, I’m gonna somehow figure out how to make nature conservation, a full-time gig. Part of that was creating the podcast, but I didn’t get there right away.

[00:13:38] Michelle: So what have been some of your goals for the podcast?

[00:13:41] Michael: So when I started the podcast, it was part of this bigger picture thing. Like I said, I had a kind of a it’s five years will be my deadline, essentially. Now I need to make a plan to make that happen. So I started taking some classes and actually that’s how I got my California naturalist certification.

[00:13:55] Local community college was offering a field ecology class and it fulfilled the requirements for Cal naturalist as well. So I did that like in 2018, I was starting to get into podcast really heavily at that point. And some point shortly after I was like, you know what? I am coming from a totally different industry.

[00:14:13] How can I actually make a career out of nature conservation without going back and getting a graduate degree? And I just, I love to learn, but not that much. Um,

[00:14:23] Michelle: Too

[00:14:24] Michael: yeah.

[00:14:25] Michelle: expensive in time and money.

[00:14:26] Michael: Yes, exactly. So I thought the podcast would be a great way to do it. And while I’m very introverted, but I like having deep one on one discussions.

[00:14:34] I love sharing knowledge. I love learning. So I thought it was a perfect way to start to meet more people and learn a little bit more and at least make progress towards that goal. I didn’t know where it would end, but it’s it’s a step in the right direction. So that’s how nature’s archive podcast came to be.

[00:14:50] Michelle: That’s so cool. I love that. And then, so as you’ve gone along and, coming from a tech world, coming from Google, how did you start to find guests in the natural, the ecological sphere?

[00:15:03] Michael: That was actually very challenging because like you, I had come up with this idea, like in late 2019. So I spent a couple months planning out how I was gonna approach it. And I went to a presentation for the SF B O San Francisco bay bird observatory. They had a guest speaker, Dorian Anderson, who famously did this cross country bicycle trip.

[00:15:28] It was a big year where he was raising money for birds using entirely bicycle power, going literally from Massachusetts down along the Gulf coast and into the Rockies and over to California to see as many birds as possible.

[00:15:43] Michelle: Wow.

[00:15:43] Michael: It’s crazy. So he talked about his adventure at the S F B B O. And part of his story was just pursuing, the dream, like doing this thing, he too left a comfortable more of an academia sort of career to to do this as a jump start.

[00:16:00] So I talked to him and then ultimately I was like, you know what? You would be a great podcast guest. I asked him and he was number one. So by having an encouraging supporter, like Dorian, that was that was really helpful. But after that I didn’t have a long list. There were a few people I met through volunteering and then the pandemic hit.

[00:16:17] And it was at the very beginning, nobody knew how to handle it. My initially I was gonna interview people in person, in fact,

[00:16:23] Michelle: Sure. Yeah.

[00:16:24] Michael: So then there was immediately zoom fatigue, and I had a number of potential guests.

[00:16:28] Tell me I would really be interested in it, I’m on zoom too much. I’m, on video too much. And it was a tough first few months finding people. It was some cold emailing, as well as a few acquaintances. They weren’t all necessarily friends that I knew well that, that helped out.

[00:16:45] But then once I got a few under my belt, it was a lot easier. Cause I could point to references and show hopefully some quality in the output.

[00:16:52] Michelle: That makes such a big difference. I, the cold emailing is brutal

[00:16:57] Michael: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:16:58] Michelle: Things is rough.

[00:16:59] Michael: and another big problem that technically is SP spam. , so I found I’ve had a number of people. Months later reply back to me. And they’re like, I was just looking through my spam folder and I found this email from you.

[00:17:09] Michelle: Yeah, or, oh, people will reply to me and I’ll see, it’s got this big yellow banner or this is an outside email. Don’t trust it. And I’m like but

[00:17:17] Michael: yeah.

[00:17:18] Michelle: why did I get labeled?

[00:17:19] Michael: And at some point I decided I was just gonna start to aim bigger too. And I can remember I had a Facebook group, I still have this Facebook group called backyard wildlife. And I haven’t really put a ton of promotional effort into it, but it’s, every week there’s a handful of posts and there’s a couple hundred people that are active and this really cool guy Griff Griffith joined this group and

[00:17:43] Michelle: yeah.

[00:17:44] Michael: yeah, it’s you’re nodding.

[00:17:45] So I, he was posting really good stuff. So I looked into his profile and I saw that he had hosted. What was it called? Wild jobs on animal planet and is a state parks interpreter. So I reached out to him and then from there, Doug Tami, I cold emailed him, but he’s so passionate about converting yards into habitat that he gladly accepted the offer.

[00:18:11] And, and after you get a few bigger names like that, then it just becomes much, much easier.

[00:18:16] Michelle: Absolutely. It grants you a certain amount of legitimacy.

[00:18:19] Michael: I have David Attenborough on my list.

[00:18:21] Michelle: Oh, you’re going for the big fish.

[00:18:24] Michael: just kidding. Yeah. I’m not

[00:18:27] Michelle: Yeah, I think let’s I try to jump ahead earlier, but I think maybe now we’re ready to talk about what your next steps.

[00:18:34] Michael: Yeah. So I talked about having a five year plan and slowly. I’m, I love to think for good or bad so I’m always thinking about like, how do I make a strategy? How do I make this work? What skills do I have to offer that are different from what others are doing? And I spent a lot of time intro respecting about my time at Google and , what was a transferable set of skills that I could take to this new endeavor.

[00:18:57] Ultimately, it’s okay, I’m a strategic thinker. I stick two things I love to learn. And because part of my job was developing new technologies and convincing people to make a change and adopt a new technology, that communication skills, I developed some, awareness of behavioral science and, influencing and understanding where people are coming from, where they’re at and what motivates them.

[00:19:25] I literally put together a Venn diagram of these things and tried to assess okay, what, can I do? So I think that communication side combined with the tech skills are are what’s unique.

[00:19:36] All of that put together, you know, it’s like, okay, now what can I do with that? And I started reaching out to people and partly from the podcast.

[00:19:43] So now this is where everything converges. So I met some, wonderful people through the podcast that have decades of experience, working either on their own nonprofits or with other organizations and finding out like, how do they work? Where are the problems? And I noticed that a lot of the larger organizations, they get stuck in their institutional inertia sometimes,

[00:20:06] Michelle: Mm. Mm.

[00:20:07] Michael: Or they’re very driven by specific metrics that have always been the metrics of that organization.

[00:20:12] So it’s hard for them to make change. It’s hard for them to do something different. What I’m doing is I’m starting a new nonprofit, at least I’m calling it a nonprofit right now. Though I’m not a hundred percent committed to that. If there’s a better arrangement called jumpstart nature. And my tagline is that it’s a next generation conservation organization, and I’m saying next generation, because I’m really looking to combine some of the approaches that tech companies use to move more quickly to leverage technology and to manage risk things like agile program management and creation of minimum viable products and things like that, that I don’t see happening much in the conservation.

[00:20:52] Michelle: I don’t know what any of that meant. So I don’t think it’s probably most people are probably not aware of it.

[00:20:58] Michael: Yeah. And that makes it hard to communicate because if you’re not from the space, it’s almost like another language. And then there’s another layer that I have to go through. To explain, but I’ll try to very succinctly describe. So when I say agile program management, when you have an idea, if it’s a product or a service or something like that, you wanna create, you usually plan out how you’re gonna do it.

[00:21:18] And the traditional method, they call it waterfall because every step you do is related to the previous step. And it’s like a waterfall and you plan out everything. And that plan, it might be depending on the size of your project, a two year plan, a six month plan, something like that. But the problem with that methodology is if step four is not what you expected, all the subsequent steps now are potentially broken and you need to re plan.

[00:21:42] And for me thinking about reaching lots of people, in fact, I haven’t even said what the mission of my organization is yet. So remind me to come back to that. But I do plan to reach a lot of people and it may turn out that what reaches them is different than what I expect. So with agile program management, you identify your goal and you only make you only plan a few steps in a window of two weeks, four weeks, something that’s much shorter.

[00:22:12] You have an idea what you’re gonna do after that, of course, but it’s not committed. And you just build in replanning constantly. You’re constantly replanning. So an analogy I like to use is I wanna go to the north pole. I know I need to go north. I know I need certain supplies. I need certain skills to get there.

[00:22:28] So I’ll get those supplies and the skills and I’ll start on my way, but I might encounter a mountain range that I didn’t know about and need to go around. With agile, you can do that and it is part of the process. It’s not a surprise. It doesn’t throw off your your overall delivery.

[00:22:45] Hopefully that makes a little bit of.

[00:22:46] Michelle: Oh, that makes a ton of sense. And I think it’s really smart and a really great way to integrate. Tech and management background. And I think it, it really speaks for itself. Google’s doing pretty well, , they’ve found a way to be very successful in a changing rapidly changing world.

[00:23:04] And we’re living in a rapidly changing world environmentally too. So I think it’s brilliant to apply those principles.

[00:23:10] Michael: Yeah. And it’s not even just a Google thing. And it’s funny because like I was on the inside at Google, so I know the problems too. All the issues that exist and some of the missteps, but but hopefully I can avoid them with that knowledge.

[00:23:20] Michelle: yeah. Having that will probably guide you really well, having that experience. So let’s talk about what your mission is.

[00:23:27] Michael: . The mission again I’m drawing a little bit on the audaciousness of some of the tech companies here in Silicon valley. So I wanted to set a really big. So I wouldn’t be limited, but also by setting a big goal, hopefully it opens up a new way of thinking. And my goal is to empower everyone, to make a difference for the environment the mission actually states to catalyze, not just empower, but catalyze everyone to make a difference for the environment.

[00:23:49] So the big words there are catalyze and everyone

[00:23:52] Of course I can’t reach everyone day one. So I’m realistic about that. I’m gonna have to start with some sort of tractable set of people, but I don’t wanna limit myself and I want to think big. So that’s that’s why I chose that mission.

[00:24:04] Michelle: I love that. And I think that’s really important because like you said, why limit yourself? And for another thing, it’s we of need everyone.

[00:24:12] Michael: Yeah. And that’s a huge part of the vision because so many people I talk to. Just feel demoralized. They don’t see how they can make a difference. And I hear this refrain all the time. I’m just one person, what can I possibly do? The governments can’t even get their act together. What can I do? And, know, I think the truth is that it’s all hands on deck.

[00:24:30] We need everyone including individuals and yes, the governments need to get their act together as well. The corporations need to get their act together, the nonprofits too. But part of that picture are individuals and we all thrive when we have agency, when we feel agency, when we feel like we’re doing something.

[00:24:46] So that is center to what I’m looking to do is give people, agency empower them to make a difference, show them how, if they don’t know how. And I want to acknowledge too, that not everyone is privileged. Like I am to be able to do this. There are people that have no access to nature. They have no spare money.

[00:25:04] They’re working three jobs. They don’t even have the mental bandwidth to to do this. There are people living on the streets, Those are also problems and we need to solve those if we’re gonna be successful in the environmental movement too. That’s not something that I can hit day one, but it’s on my radar, down the road.

[00:25:20] So I don’t want anyone listening to this thinking that I’m ignoring some of these, more fundamental societal problems that exist as well. But again, I have to start somewhere and I’m starting where I can.

[00:25:29] Michelle: Yeah, I love that. And I think that it’s really wise to be thinking long term in that way, because if you look at models of what’s been really functional stewardship of an environment, right? A lot of times you’re looking in my example, it’s native Californians, right? Who stewarded the land to be more healthy and more productive.

[00:25:48] And then it’s this reciprocal circle where the land is taking care of the person and the person is taking care of the land or the people really, I shouldn’t say the person, cuz it’s always in a group and if we’re not taking care of the people. who are experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty or lack of access to the outdoor world, then we’re also not stewarding the outdoor world and the circle is broken.

[00:26:09] And so I think it’s really wise to be thinking long term about that, but you also have to start with people who can help immediately to build momentum. So that makes sense too.

[00:26:18] So thinking about involving everyone and getting started, how does that apply? What are the practical measures to get there?

[00:26:26] Michael: Yeah. So far I, what I’ve been talking about is really hand wavy and big picture thinking. And. To turn that into practical applications. Yeah.

[00:26:34] Michelle: That’s where I live so it’s great.

[00:26:36] Michael: so obviously I already have nature’s archive podcast. And as I mentioned, my goals with nature’s archive, they were never to get the most listeners or things like that. But I’m, shifting a little bit to align nature’s archive to the mission of jumpstart nature. So I’m not gonna dramatically change nature’s archive, but I am gonna put a little bit more effort into marketing and getting the name out there and starting to reach new audience members without really changing the topical space of nature’s archive.

[00:27:03] But more fundamentally, I, again, my tech background is gonna show here. It’s okay, everyone with all of these different, circumstances there’s this phrase of meeting people where they’re at. People are at about as many places as there are people . So how do you even start with that?

[00:27:21] So what we do in the tech world and in many other worlds, when you have a big complex problem is you create a model to simplify the problem space. So I made this model that I call the environmental ladder of care, and it is a gross simplification, but it allows you to start thinking about different audiences, different sets of people through a common language, a common terminology.

[00:27:43] And so the latter starts with people who aren’t even on the environmental ladder. We were speaking about some difficult societal situations, just prevent people from even really needing or caring about the environment they can’t. And it goes all the way up to advocates at the top level.

[00:27:59] And we’re all somewhere on that ladder. So I’m looking at what services can I provide that help people at different levels of the ladder and help them move up the ladder and. Nature’s archive is probably smack dab in the middle to higher part of that ladder. It’s people already interested in nature to some degree, and I want to, help inspire them to do more.

[00:28:20] The big idea that I have with jumpstart nature is an app, a mobile app. And I, when I say it, I always smirk because that’s like the stereotypical Silicon valley thing. Everybody has an app and the way, the only way I can make it more Silicon valley is say that it, it has blockchain involved or something like that.

[00:28:41] But it doesn’t so the app is really intended to be like Noom for nature. Have you heard of Noom?

[00:28:48] Michelle: It’s ringing a bell, but I don’t know what it is if I’m totally honest.

[00:28:52] Michael: Noom is weight loss app that leverages behavioral science.

[00:28:56] Michelle: okay. Okay. Okay.

[00:28:58] Michael: It leverages be behavioral science. It helps people form an identity that is productive for them. It gives encouragement along the way. I’m grossly simplifying what Noom is. But what I see with the jumpstart nature app is something very similar where I can do like a lightweight onboarding of a user and find out what are they passionate about?

[00:29:16] Like, why do they come to the app in the first place? What are they looking to achieve? And then help them give them tractable steps that are measurable, show the progress, encouragement along the way, achievement, you know, like game a little bit of gamification in there. . And then as they accomplish their goals, always give them a next step.

[00:29:32] But with feedback, I want them to choose where they want to go so that the passion remains, but also show them some other ways, some other ideas to broaden horizons. So there’s a bunch of. Potential partnerships that I could form with this model in terms of working with other nonprofits that may be specialized in certain areas , where people want to help.

[00:29:55] And and potentially it could be a tool for businesses that want their employees to do more good in the world. Where so many companies want to show the metrics of what their staff are doing to help the environment these days. And it could become sort of an app of choice for that use case as well.

[00:30:14] Michelle: I love that too, because I’ve, I cannot tell you how. And this is especially number of years ago before I did California naturalist and all that, I can tell you how many times I’ve gone online to be like, where can I volunteer? And then you get so overwhelmed by, okay. But how do I sign up with these guys, but how do I know what they’re looking for and does my schedule work with them?

[00:30:35] And it’s there, it’s hard to find a centralized kind of location to do good in the world sometimes, it’s so decentralized. And so if somebody else could do that work, that would make a huge difference. I think because so many times I looked into doing something like that. I ended up giving up honestly, and not following through and doing any volunteering because it was so hard to figure out like what I wanted to do, what the options were when they were available, if my skills aligned, and I know that you’re talking about more than just volunteer.

[00:31:08] Possibilities, but that potentially being an analogy, for what the rest of, your jumpstart nature might look like too.

[00:31:16] Michael: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think that is well within the space and parts of that would be part of our initial release part of the minimum viable product. That’s one of those other terms where you try to figure out what are the basic things that people are going to want and launch with that you don’t want to build too much because inevitably you’re gonna be wrong as much as you think, you know, your audience, you’re gonna find out you’re wrong.

[00:31:38] So, By starting with a minimum viable product and slowly adding things and seeing what the uptake and and usage is, you can adjust. So, Yeah, I wanna, help people who maybe get hung up, like this was a big problem at Google Googlers are they overthink , I’m, I’m generalizing, but they tend to overthink.

[00:31:54] So you start talking about reducing plastic consumption and they wanna optimize it. What is the optimal way, that I can do this. And sometimes that impedes progress it’s the perfect is the enemy of the good. Helping people with simple things like that like, I at least wanna start to help pollinators or plant some native plants or reduce plastic, or, what, these are all different journeys that, that the app could help people progress along.

[00:32:18] And then they could see not only their progress, but the community at large, , what has the community together done, which I think will be very powerful metric to to be able to show people

[00:32:28] Michelle: right. That kind of reminds me of, you mentioned Doug Tallamy earlier about getting on the map, his whole idea of being able to show like here’s how many people have planted native plants in their yards, across the country. And this is here’s our goal for how many, we need to be able to make a difference for pollinators.

[00:32:42] And so that’s really cool.

[00:32:44] Michael: Yeah. So I’ve been blabbing for a while now about my plans with jumpstart nature. So why don’t we shift a little bit back to you and tell me a little bit about where you’re looking to go with your podcast.

[00:32:59] Michelle: This is your 50 episode reflection. So I don’t mind sure but I think that it was funny when you were talking about keeping those later decisions a little bit more open. I did that like by accident because I’m like I don’t really know where I wanna go.

[00:33:12] I do know that I think there are a lot of people who care about the outdoors or have an affinity for the outdoor. Who maybe just don’t know that much about it and would feel more connected to the environment around them if they knew a little bit more about it. And so I think that’s one of my goals is just of helping people when they go outside, whether it’s into an Oak Woodland or a giant Sequoia, mix conifer forest that they might be able to look around and feel more connected to that place because they understand something about it.

[00:33:45] And that’s about as far as I’ve gotten, I would like to grow listeners so that I can connect more people with their environment around them. And in that process, I’m also connecting myself more because I’m learning a lot as I’m going through it beyond that. I don’t know. I’m just seeing where it takes me at this point.

[00:34:04] Michael: I think you can keep doing what you are doing and accomplish a lot of those goals. So you’re on a great trajectory.

[00:34:11] Michelle: Hope I hope.

[00:34:12] Michael: The thing I love about what you said is I’m thinking back to one of the questions I often ask my guest is what has been most effective for them in connecting people to nature or moving them up a rung in the ladder that I mentioned.

[00:34:26] And so often it’s a very simple answer. It’s get them out in nature and show them something like it boils down to that. And I think that the way you approach your podcast, it’s an invitation for people to get out and see the sequoias or see the Sutter Buttes or, whatever the case might be.

[00:34:42] And they’re gonna have that connection now as.

[00:34:44] Michelle: That’s the hope, my background is working as an educator, right? So as an English teacher and nine of those 10 years, I was in a very will be the right way to phrase this. Basically a severely affected title one school. So extremely high poverty. 96, 90 7% of our students in poverty.

[00:35:03] Highest number of students experiencing homelessness in my very large school district. And we’re not the largest school. And just seeing that, working in that environment and just these kids are so bright and so engaged. And just, they’re a light, right? The kids are a light, but they don’t always have access to things.

[00:35:22] And, I did like a school garden for a little while and there was so much Bermuda grass, honestly, to be honest, we never made a lot of progress. Right. It was like mostly ripping out Bermuda grass. like just trying to find a little spot to plant something. But even in that outdoor space, seeing kids connect with being outside and getting their hands dirty, and a lot of times it was their first time ever doing that.

[00:35:43] . and it’s really world opening. And I think that I, that has been really a big inspiration for me is how can what you said, right? Like how can you connect everyone to an outdoor experience and outdoor space? And so that’s why I’m really applauding. There are all these cool organizations right now.

[00:35:58] I’ve heard of some cool ones in LA that are, are like busing people, right? From neighborhoods that don’t have access to nature to get out to places like state parks or national parks where they can connect. And so this is the capacity where it’s not perfect. I am not, out there getting the buses organized.

[00:36:15] Like I’m not getting people out to nature, but it’s the capacity that I am capable of working in right now to help people experience the natural world around.

[00:36:25] Michael: So is this basically your your hobby as well, like creating this podcast or what’s the rest of your life look like

[00:36:34] Michelle: Oh man. , it’s a, it’s busy. So I am transitioning right now, actually. So I’m gonna be working with actually a very similar student population, but older, because I’m going into adult ed starting next school year, which I’m really excited about. And that’s gonna hopefully allow me some flexibility to have afternoons available and Fridays available to work on the podcast and do interviews and things like that.

[00:37:01] I’ve got two little kids, a three year old and a four year old and they’re in preschool right now. That’s why you don’t hear them. But one of ’em starting TK next year. And so, there’s just drop you off here and you off here and you get done at this time and you get done at this time and there’s all that kind of management stuff.

[00:37:20] And then, yeah, I mean, I do have other hobbies which have really fallen by the wayside as I’ve started this podcast. I was during the pandemic trying to learn a little bit of art, which is why my podcast art is like, you can tell a bear that I made myself, right? Like it’s not perfect, but it’s art and it got done.

[00:37:36] And then also just, I really love to, to write and I’m like 70 pages into a children’s book actually that I have stopped working on because I’ve started focusing on the podcast, but I’d love at some point, to be able to get back into that and to integrate a lot of the naturalist knowledge that I’ve been able to glean from my guests and from the California naturalist program.

[00:37:59] Into a narrative, as well.

[00:38:01] Michael: I, what that tells me is there’s like this creative through line in all of those activities that you choose to partake in the writing the art I, teaching is a very creative pursuit. And the podcast. Yeah, very interesting. And I now understand why you’re so good at this, but the thing the thing that, that I just, I, that boggles my mind is the way you’ve set up your podcast is you travel to different locations to interview people in the field and the travel alone.

[00:38:29] There’s a lot of overhead in that. So the fact that you’re able to manage all these things and do it is definitely admirable, I would say.

[00:38:37] Michelle: well, It’s definitely, you know, again, speaking of coming from a place of privilege, like having. The family support where, okay, my husband’s working and my mom can come to town and she can watch the kids so that I can go and do this. And, both of us having, we’re not wealthy people , but both of us having, incomes that are at least solid incomes where we can, I can go on a weekend and be away for the weekend.

[00:39:00] And, that’s okay. So that’s immensely a place of privilege. And so I really want to use that to be able to welcome other people who maybe are less privileged into that space. Maybe something in LA is local to somebody it’s not local to me, but maybe I went down there and I got that interview and somebody who it is local to can go and explore that space and know a little bit about it.

[00:39:19] So that’s the hope with.

[00:39:21] Michael: So I, I have to ask in 10 episodes. I’m assuming there have been some bloopers or mistakes or missteps. Do you have any funny anecdotes or stories that have come about?

[00:39:31] Michelle: Oh, I mean, this is the stupidest thing. This is such a rookie mistake, but I cannot tell you how many times. I think it’s been like three times, which I sh it should have only been once. Cause you would hope that I would learn from this experience where I thought I hit record and I was not recording when I first started talking to my guest.

[00:39:47] And so we’re just talking for five, 10 minutes, like a long time, in recording time. And it’s just not there. So that’s just horrifying. So either, either I’ve had to like, be like, what we talked about, I can lose it. It’s okay. Or we’re gonna have to go back over some of that stuff.

[00:40:05] So that’s been like literally three times, which is just a horrifyingly embarrassing. And then. the other thing is just because I am not like, it’s kind of funny. We’re super opposites on this Michael, where you’re super techy and I am super like the opposite of that, where I just don’t understand technology at all.

[00:40:20] And I try to outsource that to my husband as much as possible, but obviously he’s not there with me on these field interviews. And so I make these mistakes, like on the entomology episode. Oh, Ralph Washington Jr. Is a genius and a, he’s a brilliant soul and just very insightful. And just literally when I was editing the podcast, I was labeling chunks of what he said.

[00:40:42] I was like gold, gold. That was the word that I used as I was labeling audio clips. This is gold. I have to include it. he’s just so good. But when I’m out there in the field with him, it was a new environment for me. We were in like a wetland. And so we’re squatting down. The wires are like, cuz we’re connected on to my little zoom.

[00:41:03] Recorder and our mic wires are like dragging on the ground and I’m trying to keep them out of the water. And so I’m like moving the wires constantly. I’m completely outta shape. So I can’t actually squat for that long. So I’m like trying to be comfortable and I’m moving around and I’m swishing these wires around.

[00:41:21] And so the sound quality on that section before we, when we sat down for the full interview, it was better. We just sat in my car and talked which was more of a familiar environment for me. But when we’re actually out there by this wetland area, there were so many audio issues and it was so frustrating so that, there have been a lot of moments like that.

[00:41:41] Michael: I can’t imagine facilitating an I. That with wires connected. I know you and I were collaborating it because I’m gonna try to do a field recording or two coming up here soon. And and ultimately it’s like, oh I’m, gonna take the hit and purchase wireless because I don’t wanna have to deal with that.

[00:41:57] Michelle: Yeah. , usually it’s fine. If you’re like standing there next to a person. What I normally do is okay, plug in we’ll record. We’ll talk for a few minutes. We’ll unplug, we’ll walk, to wherever we’re going next. And then we’ll plug in again and then we’ll talk again and it’s fine, but I just didn’t anticipate the complication of water.

[00:42:13] Keeping those wires out of the water.

[00:42:15] Michael: And side note a something I recommend to everybody is if you are an entomologist or want to be an entomologist, you will become the best squatter on the planet.

[00:42:27] Michelle: Yes.

[00:42:27] Michael: So be aware of that before you get into it.

[00:42:29] Michelle: Don’t get into his squatting competition with an entomologist.

[00:42:32] Michael: Yeah,

[00:42:32] Michelle: This is something I learned firsthand. He didn’t feel it all. so I’m still very much at the beginning of my journey and you’re farther along than me. So I would love to learn what lessons you have learned through podcasting as you’ve hit your 50th plus episode now.

[00:42:50] Michael: yeah there’s so many, and most of them are little ones that are just like incremental and probably pretty boring to talk about. But I think there was a big reinforcement for me. And I alluded this earlier with the recommendation I had to somebody said you like at least do 10 commit to 10 episodes and sticking with that.

[00:43:07] And really it’s to quote Nike it’s the, just do it

[00:43:11] So again, I’ve had to change my own view of the world to be less of a perfectionist and. Just get it out there means the net good. Like as long as the net good of what I’m doing exceeds the complication or hopefully there’s not anything bad coming from this, but I don’t know.

[00:43:26] Maybe there is that’s a big lesson. I think like on a practical side, I constantly make embarrassing mistakes in writing up the show notes and everyone’s like, you’re so detail oriented. That’s one of the feedback I get, but then I’ll misspell somebody’s name or something that’s like very obvious I just shouldn’t be doing.

[00:43:49] And the funny one recently, this was more of the transcription service that I use, but I was talking with an entomologist about this crazy relationship that where this tiny fly will decapitate ants. And they’re called ant decapitating flies and the transcription, instead of saying ant a and T it kept saying a U N T

[00:44:08] Michelle: Oh, no.

[00:44:09] Michael: I think I corrected all of

[00:44:11] Michelle: we got some murder flies out there. Oh, good

[00:44:13] Michael: I I don’t wanna scare

[00:44:14] Michelle: I don’t know what horrors lie in my transcripts, cuz I have not gone back to clean them up at all. I’m like, don’t have time for it. There’s the transcripts use them or lose ’em there’s probably some things lurking in there like that. I have no idea.

[00:44:26] Michael: And actually that reminds me of something that in the tech world, when you’re thinking about systematics and complex systems there’s concept of like technical debt where you make a decision to do something and, you know, it’s not the right long term decision.

[00:44:36] You’re doing it for short term purposes, but now it’s debt. You’re gonna have to pay off at some point in the future and and come back to and fix. I sometimes wonder if I’m accumulating some technical debt with my transcription, because at some point I’m, there are gonna be all of these Latin names that the transcription just didn’t get.

[00:44:53] Right. And I kind of, budget a certain amount of time to do a best effort clean up of the transcript, but it’s not perfect like you and that’s just so toilsome to do that.

[00:45:03] Michelle: Yeah, I think I looked at my recent episode, which was shorter than a lot of my other episodes. It’s 10 minutes shorter. Usually they’re about an hour, maybe even a little bit more. This one’s like 50 minutes. And I wanna say it was like 90,000 words or something like that in the transcript.

[00:45:16] Whew. It’s a lot longer to go through those 90,000 words and clean that up than it is to listen to the episode or to, experience that real time. So it’s been bottom of the priority list. Unfortunately, I would love to get to a point where I can hire a human to do that.

[00:45:31] Michael: Yeah I agree. The great thing about machine learning and artificial intelligence is that it’s constantly improving and sometimes you don’t see the improvement until like a year or two goes by and you look back at how it used to be. So I’m hopeful that some of those technologies continue to improve and it gets to be, instead of 95% accurate, it gets to be like 99% accurate.

[00:45:49] That would be a great

[00:45:51] Michelle: That’d be great.

[00:45:52] Michael: Yeah.

[00:45:52] Michelle: Yes, absolutely. That’s the best we can expect of ourselves anyways, so that’s pretty good. And so, we’ve talked about with jumpstart nature, kind of where you want to go, but what about with nature’s archive or with podcasting in general?

[00:46:04] Michael: Yeah. I, I mentioned that with nature’s archive specifically, I’m, looking to improve it a little bit. I want to align what I do more to jumpstart nature. I’m probably going to increase the frequency of episode releases currently I’m biweekly, but I might actually adopt more of a seasonal approach like you.

[00:46:22] So instead of getting 26 episodes a year, maybe I’ll try to get more like 36 episodes into a year.

[00:46:29] Michelle: Oh, nice.

[00:46:30] Michael: And I have this other concept I’ve been working on of a short daily podcast. That would be more of a journalistic production, a little more journalistic in style where every episode would have an aha moment.

[00:46:44] Something that people listening, it would cause them to question what they believe to be true in nature, and hopefully inspire them to then reconsider some other assumptions. There’s so many things that we just think incorrectly about with respect to nature and give a couple of ideas as to where I’m going with this, it’d be like a five minute episode each day and there a weekly theme.

[00:47:08] So a weekly theme might be something like shifting baseline syndrome. And what shifting baseline syndrome is in this context is how each generation looks at the state of the environment that they saw in their formative years and believes that is the pristine world, like where we should be. That’s their baseline.

[00:47:31] But with each subsequent generation, it’s getting degraded severely. So we lose sight of this. So bringing delight some examples of like fisheries are a wonderful example, the types of fish that were plentiful and available to eat or sport fish or whatever the case might be or just go about their daily life as part of the food web, no longer exist and they’re no longer available.

[00:47:52] And I think that forests are very similar. We have this vision of what a pristine forest looks like, but. In actuality, a lot of the forests in the west are more like agricultural lands where timber feet of wood is actually how the forests are being managed, not biodiversity, not sustainability.

[00:48:11] So bringing to light some of these things I think will be really important to help people on the environmental ladder. And I’m actually like, I don’t intend to be the host. I want to take more of a producer role in this and really step up and have professionals deliver this, deliver the vision.

[00:48:26] Michelle: Would listen. That sounds fantastic.

[00:48:29] Michael: . I’m really excited about this idea. Yeah, it’d be short. And like I said, like five minutes, but I, there’s so many great things and I’m sorry. Going off on maybe excess, I have such a long list, just like you. I have, a spreadsheet full of ideas, full of themes, and I’ve started scripting and identifying who the interviewees would be for these.

[00:48:47] But you were talking about indigenous land management practice a little bit ago. And I had a great discussion with with someone here just this week about the concept of wilderness and how to European Americans wilderness is this pristine land that has never been touched by humans, but that doesn’t exist.

[00:49:09] There’s nowhere where that

[00:49:10] Michelle: Mm-hmm

[00:49:11] Michael: And if we’re honest with ourselves, all of these pristine areas were lived on and utilized by or managed by the native peoples that were there long before the Europeans. So just letting that sink in and soak in. It’s a game changer for so many people to realize, like what should we be doing with the.

[00:49:32] Michelle: Absolutely. And I have found that to be one of the most welcoming thoughts, honestly, because I think coming from the, growing up with the more , European Eurocentric perspective on that and thinking nature is better without us. That’s a hard thing to hear as someone who loves nature and wants to be part of it, it is much more Validating as our place as humans maybe is to actually have this interaction and this stewardship with these wild spaces to help them thrive even better than they would on their own.

[00:50:04] And so I find that to be a very I don’t feel like I’m grabbing the right word,

[00:50:08] but I feel like, you know, a lot of times there’s this sense of separation, right? And so it’s nice to feel like, Hey, there’s actually a role. There’s a role for me.

[00:50:17] Michael: Yeah, it’s validating, as well. And so much of the environmental movement, when it gets politicized, it becomes like you care more about the endangered species than the people. It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a balance in there. And there’s a historical narrative around what that balance can look like.

[00:50:33] Not that we need to go back to or adopt all the practices, but there’s a lot to learn from that. So yeah, absolutely. I think that it is a very. Empowering way to look at the world. And when you think about animals okay, humans have the idea that yeah, we could actually manipulate the land.

[00:50:50] We can Terraform, we can, turn land into agriculture, whatever the case might be, maybe other animals aren’t thinking that, but their natural instincts make them manage the land. So to speak. If you think about grazing herds that move on once they’ve grazed enough. And there’s so many examples of that as well.

[00:51:07] All right. I’ve been blabbing too much.

[00:51:10] Michelle: No, it’s great. I love it.

[00:51:12] Michael: all right. So Michelle, a time has just flown by in this conversation and ideas are swirling around in my head about things that maybe we could do in the future as well. But before we go I wanna throw one of my standard questions at you and that’s if.

[00:51:28] If you had one concept, one way that you think about the world that could help people see the world, as you see it, that you’ve learned through your journey in nature, what would that be?

[00:51:39] Michelle: I think it would be, and this is gonna be a little corny. Okay. And it’s from Ted lasso. Okay. So I dunno if anyone’s watched Ted lasso but in season one, he talks about, it’s supposedly I think a Walt Whitman quote, but I think it’s been misattributed. And that is that, in, instead of judgment, seek C.

[00:51:57] right. And it opposes those two ideas of judgment and curiosity. And I had never thought about it in those terms until I watched that Ted lasso episode, but honestly it resonated with me and I’ve been thinking about it so much about how it’s so easy to assume you have a conclusion and to feel more comfortable in that.

[00:52:17] But instead of that, I’ve been trying really hard to lean into just being curious and trying to avoid my impulse to be judgemental. And I think that it’s really opened up a world for me. And it’s how I wanna continue to approach this journey because especially as somebody who doesn’t have a background in this, I don’t know everything, I don’t know the answers.

[00:52:41] And I think it’s a really great way to continue to dive deeper and to continue to learn. And so I think that’s been the biggest concept that, that has been. paradigm shifting for me that I think that would be great for other people to lean into as well.

[00:52:56] Michael: I love it. I think that is. Deeply embedded into my ethos as well. I’m always talking about nuance. And, when I’m thinking about nuance, I’m actually thinking like whenever I hear something that maybe I disagree with or is surprising to me, I try to, instead of react, I try to be curious and try to ask a question, try to find out more.

[00:53:17] And nature shows us that this is important all the time where you hear, a few years ago in the media with the severe Western wildfires, for example, you would hear everybody spouting off about like, there’s one answer. Like we need to log more, or we need to do more prescribed burns, or it was always like one answer.

[00:53:36] But the reality is it’s all of those. And none of those, it really depends on the environment. It depends on, are you talking Chapar or grassland or open Woodland or closed Woodland or, whatever the case might be. So yeah, absolutely having that curiosity, I think is really important. And I.

[00:53:52] Thank you for, for making that so clear in your answer.

[00:53:56] Michelle: Thank you. Yeah.

[00:53:58] Michael: All right. So to close things out, you are doing a phenomenal job on social media, definitely worth the follow. I saw you just got this amazing box load of books from heyday which is super. How can people follow you? Where are you on social media or elsewhere in the internet?

[00:54:16] Michelle: Yeah. Thanks. And that was really exciting. It was very surprising. It was such a big box of books. So, I am at golden state naturalist on Instagram and TikTok. And then I do have a page on Facebook as well. It’s the golden state naturalist podcast. So you should be able to find me there.

[00:54:35] Michael: okay, great. And it’s it’s always I’ll link to all of those things in the show notes to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. And with that, is there anything else you’d like to say, Michelle?

[00:54:46] Michelle: I don’t think so. Just thanks so much for having me. This has been really fun.

[00:54:50] Michael: Yeah. It’s been fun to get a per another perspective to hear how you develop your podcast, how it all works behind the scenes. I really appreciate it. I hope the listeners have enjoyed this kind of behind the scenes. Look and look ahead for me. So thank you for for being a willing participant in this experiment that we call podcasting.

[00:55:08] Michelle: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

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