Hi, I’m Christine
My passion is helping people form a deeper connection 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.
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
Who am I and why can I help you?
I’m a proud native of the ‘golden rollin’ hills of California’, as the folk musician, Kate Wolf so eloquently sang of, in the heart of the gold country. I was lucky to grow up amongst pine-clad mountains and free-flowing rivers, but it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and so I found deep solace in nature during an otherwise tumultuous childhood. Some of my earliest memories included capturing grasshoppers, praying mantises and crawdads and keeping them as pets in mason jars. And I was always outside – riding my horses and tending to my Noah’s Ark of sheep, rabbits, cats, dogs, birds, and fish.
As an adult, I’ve been lucky to find ways to combine my passions for nature, travel, art, and education. After college, and armed with a Master’s degree in Biology, I became a field biologist, getting paid to hike, camp and ski in order to tag trout, net sharks, identify insects, chase pollinators, press plants, collect weather data and dissect…well you probably don’t want to know! Over the years, I’ve held a variety of fantastic field biology jobs that have included such exciting adventures as being chased by a moose, having bears steal my food and puncture my tires, escaping from lightning storms and being stung by jellyfish.
As much fun as this was, I eventually realized that I could affect an even greater societal change by educating folks about the wonders of the natural world in hopes of inspiring them to preserve it. So I settled down from the gypsy life of a field biologist and began my work as an environmental educator. I love sharing stories about the natural world with people young and old through multi-disciplinary techniques that incorporate art, music, dance, and writing.
“We only conserve what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught”
– Baba Dioum
Christine’s Official Biography
Christine Elder is a lifelong naturalist, artist, and educator. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology, with an emphasis on ecological principles, and a certificate in Science Illustration from the University of California. She also completed three summers of graduate studies at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, focusing on botany and pollination biology.
In her years as a field biologist, she worked on projects to restore habitats, monitor endangered species, study climate change, identify deep-sea marine invertebrates and survey plant and animal populations, including the threatened West-slope Cutthroat Trout and the California Legless Lizard.
She has more than 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 she developed interpretive displays, gave campfire programs, led nature walks, trained docents and taught children’s activities. She has also taught in schools, ranging from stints as a high school and college biology professor, to developing and teaching cross-curricular programs that integrate the arts and sciences.
In Christine’s current work as an environmental educator, she teaches workshops, leads nature sketching retreats, and offers online classes.
She has an insatiable drive to travel and observe wildlife in their native habitats. She’s been blessed to observe calving glaciers and breaching whales in Alaska, courting alligators in Florida, 5 million bats in Texas, rattlesnakes, and scorpions in Arizona and howler monkeys in Honduras. Since 2012, her travels have taken her all over the Western Hemisphere co-leading international nature tours with Paradise Birding.
When not traveling or teaching, Christine can be found in her art studio, creating illustrations for her own projects and for clients as part of her work as a scientific illustrator. Learn more about these services and view praise for her work from clients.
She resides in central Oregon, sandwiched between the 10,000-foot volcanic peaks of the Cascades and the high desert where pronghorn antelope roam and sage grouse dance. Christine firmly believes in giving back and supports a variety of environmental conservation and education programs throughout the year.
Get your shot of nature today!
I invite you to check out my free online Nature Sketching Challenge where you can gain the skills and confidence to draw nature’s beauty. You also might enjoy watching my videos or checking out my blog for entertaining and inspiring nature stories.
“It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness”
– Chinese proverb
Still curious to learn more?
Here’s where I share the fun (and sometimes embarrassing) tidbits about me that only my friends know ( like the time I rescued a lobster). Come on over to my Just For Fun page!
Giving back to my community and supporting conservation organizations are baked into my business model. I routinely donate a sizable percent of my revenue as well as volunteering for a variety of non-profits and animal rescue organizations. Learn more here.