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Flowers Doing What She Loves

Alumni: Natalie Flowers
Degree: BS Wildlife Management
Graduation: 2004
Business Title: Naturalist & Founder
Business: Wild Within Reach

I graduated from Purdue 2004 and didn't really know what I wanted to do with my Wildlife Management degree. So, I followed my husband, also a Purdue graduate, to Indianapolis looking for a job and hoping for a career. I worked at several jobs including at a humane society, as a zoo intern, and part-time at Hamilton County Parks and Recreation. At Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, I found a passion for environmental education! In 2010, my husband got a job near Denver, CO. We moved that summer and I again found myself fumbling a bit trying to find a career. It was hard to find a permanent position in my field, so I took on a seasonal position with Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a Chronic Wasting Disease technician and when the hunting season slowed down, I got to help with mountain lion research. After my seasonal position was over, I worked for Denver Water as a Recreation Technician, helping to maintain Waterton Canyon for hiking, recreation, and Denver Water. This position was also temporary (2 years) and I left when I had my first child in July of 2012.

After spending some time with my daughter at home and working part-time for my church, I got hired on by Colorado Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) in 2014. This position was part-time but I was now a mother of 2, so it fit well with my family life. I stayed at CPRA and was very happy. I was able to grow and connect with others in the parks and rec. field. In 2016, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) started an amazing campaign called Generation Wild. This educational campaign was geared at parents and hoped to change the trend of kids (and adults) spending less and less time outdoors. I felt very called to this campaign and wanted to get involved. Since they were partners with CPRA, I met with the people putting on Generation Wild and others who were passionate about this cause. Many of the other organizations and people I met were limited on resources, time, staffing, volunteers, and/or money. I sympathized with them and wondered what could be done.

After discussing it with my family, I started Wild Within Reach in May 2018 and began offering 'creek stomps', hikes, and programs (on my days off). In January of 2019, I decided it was time to leave CPRA and put all my energy and time toward my new growing business. WWR continued to grow and we had a very busy Spring and Summer. We partner with local municipalities, schools, and childcare to offer nature based and environmental education programs for kids and adults. We get dirty, catch bugs, learn about ecosystems, scat, tracks, and animals in our own communities! If the location is too far away or the topic requested was already being done we connect the dots with other partner(s) and collaborate together.

Now as summer is ending and kids are returning to school, so is Wild Within Reach with our Wild at School programs (before/after school). It has been a lot of work, time, and energy but I hope to continue growing Wild Within Reach and reconnecting people with nature in their own communities! After getting my degree, I struggled to find my place and career but now, 14 years and several odd jobs later, I am happy to say I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I truly love! I am so thankful for my Purdue degree, my many odd jobs, and my amazing supportive husband, family, and friends! I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

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