The most amazing thing about nature is that it’s everywhere! At least, that’s what outdoor educator Sierra Taliaferro believes. Sierra has made it her life’s mission to teach people about the natural world and the environmental challenges our planet faces. At the same time, she hopes to uplift the voices of other Black scientists and researchers who are making a difference in the world of environmental activism and education!
Sierra describes herself as a naturalist, a birder, and an outdoor educator. She works for the Broward County Government in South Florida, teaching people how to become better stewards of the environment.
“The beauty about nature is that you don’t have to go far to see it. You don’t have to go far to appreciate it. It’s right there at your fingertips in your backyard,” she tells In The Know. “Everywhere you go there’s nature around you. It’s the natural resources surrounding our urban environments, and to be able to be an advocate of my community but also nature as well is meaningful to me.”
Sierra is particularly interested in teaching people about the negative impact that invasive plant species can have on the environment. “A lot of people don’t really know, so they go to a lot of these landscape stores and are like, ‘Hey, that looks cool.’ But it’s actually an invasive species that you’re about to plant in your yard,” she explains. “When invasive species take over, it causes an imbalance and our native species can’t really thrive and they can’t spread.”
Sierra also runs her own organization, The Green Obsidian (@TheGreenObsidian), which serves to highlight the work of Black scientists. “The Green Obsidian is a digital platform that I created to uplift the stories of Black people who are doing so much good work on the ground level in environmental conservation,” Sierra explains. “I started back in 2019 at my kitchen table where I was so frustrated not seeing the representation that it widely deserves.”
Working as an educator in the Florida Everglades is extremely personal for Sierra. She tells In The Know that she fell in love with the region the first time she visited. “The South Florida Everglades is one of those amazing ecosystems that you hear about in school,” she recalls. “I had this impromptu trip down here, and I fell in love with it so much that I moved 5 months later.”
Now, spending time in the Everglades helps Sierra stay grounded. “Nature is very personal for me because it helps me stay connected and grounded and sane in a world that’s so fast-paced and energized,” she explains. “The more that I learn about it on my own and even in my professional space, the more that it’s become personal, because I live here too now, and so I want to be invested just as much as anyone else.”
With her work, Sierra hopes not only to raise awareness about environmental issues, but to help people understand how important environmental conservation truly is. “I want people to understand that this is close to home, this is the only planet that we have,” she says. “That’s what keeps me going and that’s what keeps me passionate about the work that I do in conservation, outreach, and community engagement.”
The post Here’s how this activist is connecting her community to the great outdoors appeared first on In The Know.
More from In The Know: