My name is Gentian. I was named after the fringed gentian, a rare wildflower protected under New York State Law, and immortalized in poetry by Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and William Cullen Bryant.
Several years ago I left my big, stressful City job and moved from Hastings-on-Hudson to Katonah. I’ve been lucky to have time to spend with my daughter and think about my next chapter. In August of 2017, I had a moment in nature that changed everything. We were vacationing at a resort in the Poconos, and I saw that the staff naturalist was hosting a salamander hike. Salamanders were my favorite animal as a child and I leapt at the chance. We saw well over 100 amphibians that day, mostly baby American toads and red efts, but with several other species of salamander I had never encountered before. I found a Northern Red Salamander myself, and the feeling of pure joy in that moment made me realize how much I sought a deeper connection to the natural world around me.
Since then, I have been pursuing whatever opportunities I can find to educate myself and follow this path, wherever it leads. I am now a State-licensed wildlife rehabilitator and a certified New York Master Naturalist. I volunteer as a Nature Guide at Teatown, and teach a nature program at a local Montessori school. Herping–defined as going out in search of reptiles and amphibians–has become a passion and a meditation for me. I regularly hike around the northern Westchester area looking for salamanders. I also participate in citizen science projects whenever I can, and urge everyone with an interest to get involved with citizen science!
Fern & Frog is an opportunity for me to organize my knowledge and research as I develop my own expertise, and to share my love for our local wildlife and resources with the community.