Fiona Gillogly: Cultivating curiosity in nature

September 24, 2019

Courtesy Fiona Gillogly

Sixteen-year-old Fiona Gillogly hikes and sketches the constantly evolving elements of nature along the maze of trails in her backyard. Through meticulously searching for mysteries in everything around her, she has developed a passion for nature journaling and learning about how exactly the environment functions. 

Fiona attended Live Oak Waldorf School in Meadow Vista, California, from preschool through 8th grade and is currently a sophomore at Sacramento Waldorf School in Fair Oaks, California. The unique art and nature infused curriculum enables Fiona to spend most of her days outside exploring and sketching various species of plants and animals. Fiona has spilled out about 1600 pages of sketchbooks full of elaborate drawings, observations and questions over the last three years.

After meeting her role model and current mentor, naturalist and educator John Muir Laws, on one of her hikes, she was able to spread her passions to a bigger audience through talks, conferences and leading nature walks. Two weekends ago, Fiona spoke at the first annual 2019 Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference alongside Laws and taught fellow nature enthusiasts from all over the country about journaling techniques, constructing an inquiry toolkit and asking the right questions to lead you to discovery. 

“Nature journaling brings you closer to the environment,” Fiona said. “It gives you the desire to protect everything you observe.”

Furthermore, as a dedicated birder (also known as a birdwatcher), Fiona regularly participates in bird walks and thoroughly enjoys encountering new birdsongs. She has attended various teen birding camps over the past four years through the Central Valley Birding Club Youth Scholarship. There, she explores new approaches to bird observation and dives deeper into her curiosity about the study of birds.

Although Fiona is unsure of what her future holds, she is certain that she wants her career to involve nature and has already begun fundraising for college through a line of hand-drawn bird greeting cards. 

In Fiona’s presentation, she will present various pages from her nature journals and describe her journaling process, as well as the importance of observing and questioning the world around us.

“It’s freeing to constantly ask questions through nature journaling,” Fiona said. “We need to develop the courage to ask questions if we want to save the world.”

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