I’m Michael Smith, a naturalist and writer who previously worked as a Psychological Associate in agencies, private practice and pediatric hospital settings. My interest in nature grew from childhood experiences on the Texas coast, then in the Denver area, and then at what was the Fort Worth Children’s Museum starting when I was about 11 years old.
My interest in snakes broadened as I learned, at the museum, about natural history – how different species lived and how communities of plants and animals were interrelated. Although my formal training was in psychology, I also continued to learn about nature and stayed focused on herpetology. As an adult, I have been involved with herpetological societies, I’ve given educational presentations, and have helped to get people out to experience nature. In recent years I have written two books (with a third on the way), taught herpetology classes for some Texas Master Naturalist chapters, and I write for the online publication Green Source DFW. I’ve been involved for a couple of years in a survey of the reptiles and amphibians at Sheri Capehart Nature Preserve, together with some great volunteers.
Much of what I have done is motivated by a concern for how we have become disconnected from nature and how many places have been lost. My presentations and writing are my attempts to share knowledge, wonder, and the sense that we are interdependent and that we must protect nature. What my other career taught me about human behavior led to an interest in how humans interact with nature. As a result, I have written and taught about mindfulness in nature and nature journaling. The nearby LBJ National Grasslands is a wonderful place for exploring, learning, and practicing mindfulness. Kayla West and I are taking people on walks there and encouraging them to reflect on the experience and write about it, organizing our efforts as the LBJ Grasslands Project.