Colleen is a gardener and educator who planted her first seed, a sunflower, at three years old. That childhood fascination with nature, gardening, and everything outdoors led to her career path as an environmental educator, author, and CEO of NatureTalks.
Colleen founded NatureTalks with a simple, single mission: to help people connect to nature. Her special style of educating is as a storyteller for gardens and gardeners.
This storytelling began in the 1990s. Working on her masters in Social Ecology, Colleen traveled across the state of Hawaii, visiting Molokai, Hawaii, Oahu and Maui to gather stories from teachers and administrators about the joys and challenges of creating school gardens. These stories were published as Growing an Educational Garden at Your School: A Study of the Hawaii Experience. It remains the only book on school gardens in Hawaii and its content has passed the test of time. Fifteen years later, it is still requested by teachers involved in today’s gardening revolution.
Colleen’s work has resulted in hundreds of educational pieces, interpretive publications and community programs. She travels both locally and nationally, formerly as Chair of Education for the National Tropical Botanical Garden (giving presentations on the use of native plants in the landscape), and currently as CEO of NatureTalks, speaking on the power of plants to transform communities, urban greening, and environmental education.
She published the Directory of Sources for Native Plants, the first comprehensive list in Hawaii of what plants to grow and where to get them. She also developed an interactive curriculum for elementary school teachers, The Growing Seed: Wiliwili Project, which won a National Award from the American Association of Botanical Gardens.
Dr. Carroll’s doctoral studies in Australia, on children’s perceptions of the environment and how everyday experiences influence their notion of environmental issues, prepared her well for interviewing, writing, and completing extensive studies. The result–What is the Environment Anyway? A Study of Children’s Perceptions of the Notion of Environment–stemmed from an awareness of the deluge of “environmental education” bombarding our children and a systematic examination to discover the essence of what our children perceive as the environment. Once again, Colleen’s insights were several years ahead of the mainstream.
Currently, Colleen is gathering stories closer to home. Look What I Grow in my Backyard! Stories from Hawaii’s Gardeners follows this same proven format based on inspirational gardeners and their stories. Going beyond the traditional how-to book, Colleen’s book captures how each individual creates a garden with a unique combination of food, medicine, and beauty. The beautiful photos and captivating narrative show how each gardener imprints his or her own personal style in the landscape. To learn more about Colleen and NatureTalks, download the media kit by clicking on its cover at left!
Dr. Carroll is involved with school gardens, community outreach, education, and environmental issues. Recent projects include writing for the Department of Forestry and Wildlife about current issues in Hawaii’s Urban Forest and presenting the workshop “Children’s Perspectives on the Environment: Gaining Insights” at the Center for Ecoliteracy School Garden Teachers Workshop on the Island of Hawaii.
Colleen Carroll can be reached at email@example.com and (808) 634-3021. She is available for workshops and seminar presentations.