I help people form more meaningful connections with the natural world. Through my teaching, art, writing, videos, workshops, and retreats, I aim to bring more joy into one’s life, more empathy into one’s heart, and a greater appreciation for the vital roles that nature plays in our own well-being. My advanced degrees in biology and science communication provide a solid foundation for my environmental education work. I’ve been developing fun and engaging activities for folks of all ages for more than 20 years in my work with such organizations as The Nature Conservancy, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the National Park Service to name a few. I make my home in central Oregon, in the foothills of the glacier-topped Cascades, where the sagebrush meets the pines.
You’re in the right place if you:
- Would rather spend a day out hiking or skinny dipping than going to a mall.
- Believe getting stung by a jellyfish is a small price to pay for snorkeling above a coral reef.
- Think insects and snakes aren’t creepy crawlies but wickedly fascinating.
- Believe children have the right to experience nature and adults have the responsibility to get them there.
- Would spend your lottery money on traveling instead of stuff.
- Wouldn’t think I’m a nut job if I told you I’ve performed surgery on a bumblebee, gone swimming with sharks, kept a black widow as a pet and love collecting animal skulls!
A gift for you
My flagship program is called the Nature Sketching Challenge, and best of all, it’s free! Why? Because I believe all people have the natural-born right to enjoy the natural world and I believe the practice of spending time outdoors with a nature journal is the best way to develop understanding and empathy for the creatures that share our planet. We live in a precarious time of global climate change, government unrest, unchecked resource consumption, and untold numbers of wildlife species being pushed to the brink of extinction. I believe that many of our environmental problems could be solved if people had the chance to develop a closer relationship to, and understanding of nature’s inner workings. And that starts with the simple act of noticing, then appreciating, and finally being moved to conserving the natural world. As the renowned Senegalese forester, Baba Dioum, famously said:
“We only conserve what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught” – Baba Dioum
That’s why I developed the Nature Sketching Challenge, a 14-day self-paced, online program for nature-loving folks of all ages to help jump-start their enjoyment and understanding of the natural world. It’s chock-full of my best activities for giving you the confidence to sketch, even if you believe “I can’t even draw a stick figure”. I invite you to try it today!
Christine is so genuine in her love of nature and desire to teach others about its beauty. She warmly welcomes people into her nature-loving community. You won’t regret joining Christine! -Ian Fawley, Interpretive Ranger, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Christine is a strong, youthful scientist who entices others to look at the loveliness of nature. Her energy is contagious. Anyone would be lucky to have Christine on their team. Her passion and love for nature permeate whatever it is she is doing. She’s the real deal and has the scientific knowledge to accompany her enthusiasm – Jill Harke, Director, John Muir Mountain Day Camp
Does this sound familiar?
• You spend too much of your life indoors and long for the carefree days of your youth • You’re too busy to stop and smell the roses • You feel like your time is not your own; that life is just one big To Do list • You see the children in your life hooked on video games and not getting the exercise and stimulation that the natural world provides.
My prescription for you? Nature!
I know, it sounds corny… but who couldn’t use a healthy dose of nature? And the results are in! Numerous scientific studies have shown the positive benefits of spending more time in nature—for both our physical and psychological well-being. Being outside reduces stress, improves mood and helps us learn about the world around us.
One of the best ways I’ve found to develop a more meaningful connection to nature is through the practice of nature sketching and journaling. I’ve found this to be a profoundly meditative and rewarding activity.
My flagship program, Introduction to Nature Sketching; is an online, self-paced course that covers the foundations of sketching in the outdoors. You’ll learn by using my downloadable guides and video tutorials that also cover the basics of drawing subjects including flowers and birds in the field. You might also enjoy taking my other online course Sketching Backyard Birds for Beginners.
Birds & Blossoms Nature Sketching Retreats
If you love to travel and enjoy sketching, check out my Birds & Blossoms Nature Sketching Retreats. They’re a fantastic way to escape the stress of the modern world and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
Kid’s Environmental Education
I have over 20 years’ experience in environmental education, working in informal field settings with such organizations as the National Park Service and Forest Service, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Nature Conservancy in which I developed interpretive displays, gave campfire programs, led nature walks, trained docents and taught children’s activities. In 2015, I was invited to Jamaica to assist with a children’s program at the Hope Zoo coordinated by BirdsCaribbean, and incorporating education materials produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s BirdSleuth project. Learn more about my environmental education programs.
Public Speaking & Adult Workshops
I enjoy giving presentations for audiences of up to several hundred people for international, regional and local meetings and annual conferences for such organizations as The National Audubon Society, California Native Plant Society, the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators and BirdsCaribbean in Jamaica. If your organization would like to inquire about inviting me to speak at your event or to give a workshop, learn more about my experience and get media resources here.
“Christine Elder has a refreshingly welcoming approach to teaching about birds through art that reflects her obvious passion for wildlife and conservation of our natural environment. Whether at her home in Oregon or visiting us deep in the tropics at the Vallarta Botanical Garden, she has a marvelous potential to connect people with birds in a rich and meaningful way” – Neil Gerlowski, Executive Director, Vallarta Botanical Garden
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