Who am I? This is the type of question one has to answer in cover letters and university applications. It is a question I am never comfortable with, but I suppose it is a question that is important to answer.
More than anything, I am an inquisitive primate that is happiest learning new things, being in new environments, and having my preconceptions challenged. I am enamored of the natural world across all scales. I am deeply concerned with our place within the environment and the increasing lack of contact with and awareness of how deeply intertwined our own fate is with the fate of the global environment.
Growing up my family moved often, by the time I was 8 I had been to or through every US state but Hawaii and Colorado. Most of my life my questions have begun with “Why” and in new environments some of my first questions are along the lines of “What is that, is it edible, is it poisonous, and what is used for?” I want to know who people are and why they think the way they do. I want to learn what others know and share the joy of learning. I want to know why the world works the way it does, and I relish the fact that I can never fully know how it works.
I have an undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Masters of Science from the Field Naturalist/Ecological Planning program at the University of Vermont. I’ve been an archeologist in California, a university instructor in China, the cellar-master of a small California winery, tracked bears in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, helped to set up a neo-tropical research station in the Peruvian Amazon, rafted down Bolivian rivers on hand-built balsa rafts, designed climate change based botanical monitoring protocols for the National Park Service, and led a survey team on the Juneau Ice-Fields in southeast Alaska as part of a JIRP expedition. I have worked on wildlife connectivity in the northeastern US, and was hired for a conservation position in Kalimantan that fell apart shortly after I moved to the opposite side of the planet. All in all, I have been fortunate enough to see some amazing things along the way and hope to see many more.
I read too much, am working on my photography, and can build nearly anything I need as long as I have a knife, some rope, and time. I am not in a hurry, but there are things I want to do with my life.
My name is Neahga Leonard and I want to leave the world a better place than it was when I came into it.