Twenty years ago, Susie Fiore decided to stop switching her career with the seasons.
After attending Colorado College (and getting hooked on fieldwork), she worked as a Forest Service archeologist in summer and taught children to ski in winter. She wanted to combine her love of natural science, teaching children, and working outdoors.
In 1996, she founded the Field Institute of Taos, and today, she leads a vibrant, growing non-profit. For hundreds of children each year, FIT provides active, hands-on, nature-based outdoor education and promotes healthy living.
“I’m chief, cook, and bottle washer,” Susie laughs. “As director, I do everything from fundraising events and grant writing to staff training and equipment maintenance. I’m also an instructor in the field. That’s what keeps it fresh for me.”
“Being out with the kids inspires me,” she continues. “Getting to facilitate those experiences and see their growth and curiosity and excitement. I don’t mind being in the office, but I really love being in the field.”
She wants to teach students and campers to value and protect nature. But that’s not all. She wants them to feel comfortable outdoors, too. “Emotionally, our connections to the environment really save us. I want these kids to know they can go out into the forest and find that peace and quiet.”
Susie is especially proud of the counselor-in-training and junior counselor progression they’ve developed for summer camp. The program works. She has lead instructors who have been part of FIT since they came as campers. “It’s been cool to see the leadership skills develop as they as they participate.”
In addition to campers and counselors, Susie’s raising her own 7-year-old son with a love for the outdoors. With her husband, they spend time camping, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and adventuring outdoors. “Everytime I go on a hike or a bike ride, I see something cool or unexpected. Every time. To me, that’s just amazing!”
After field work with lots of kids, she heads high in the mountains to quiet, remote spots when she’s with her family or alone. In fact, one of her favorite destinations, Lake Fork Peak in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness, doesn’t even have a trail.
Her route to the peak may be a mystery, but it’s no secret that Susie is inspiring and engaging future generations of environmental educators.
Want to join Susie and hundreds of other awesome members of the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico? (We’d love that!) Click over here to join our community today.