Let nature be your guide
Kathy is best found in her happy place, nature. Either during her own time moving her body or educating the next generation. Kathy lives her truest life by giving back to and connecting with the Earth. But it's not just about her, it's about sharing the gift of nature and helping children and adults develop the same appreciation.
One of 5 girls growing up in Whanganui, Kathy enjoyed an outdoor childhood. Whether it was roaming the neighbourhood with her kid 'gang', on family trips where they would camp, walk in the bush, play at the beach or heading out on the boat, the natural landscape was a big part of her upbringing. When she was 13, the family moved to Tauranga and since then, the Bay of Plenty has been home.
Growing up her parents worked hard in their own business, but this did mean they could take off on family trips for a couple of weeks at a time to go exploring. Kathy knows that her folks wanted to give her and her sisters opportunities they didn't have when they were growing up. It was through these experiences, encouraged by her parents and her own natural curiosity that her love of nature developed. When Kathy and her sisters were adults her parents separated and her mum moved to Australia to follow her passion and explore the country in her camper. Kathy and her Dad were incredibly close, and he was her biggest cheerleader.
Kathy travelled and explored the world and it was on a volunteer project protecting Loggerhead Sea turtles in Greece that she knew she wanted to work in Environmental Education. She returned to NZ to study Marine and Environmental Science, this included a stint in South Africa working with Scientists researching Great White Sharks, which was a life changing experience both personally and professionally. Just after returning from South Africa in 2006, her Dad passed away suddenly, Kathy's world was rocked hard. With this connection suddenly gone from her physical world, Kathy turned to what her Dad had taught her, to get grounded, go to nature. During this time her relationship with nature deepened, and became an incredible source of clarity, peace and healing.
After completing her Science Degree and working in the field for a few years, she looked around at her life and realised that it was education and connecting people with the natural environment that she loved the most and decided to continue her studies in Teaching and Environmental Education with the view to starting her own programmes.
Before studying again Kathy travelled for a year, returning to New Zealand in 2011, just a few weeks before the Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off the coast of Tauranga, spilling oil along the coastlines of the region. With her experience and knowledge, Kathy worked with the rehabilitation centre for Little Blue Penguins and was there for a few months. Together with other volunteers, they cleaned, fed and monitored the penguins to stop them from sinking as their natural oils returned to their coats and could be released where they were found. She was fortunate to be there when they released the final group back to their homes down near Moturiki Island (Leisure Island). A very special day that she won't ever forget.
It had always been a dream of Kathy's to start her own business, so in late 2017, Nature Library was born. Primarily, connecting school age children with nature and using the natural world as a teaching tool. Ultimately helping kids fall in love with the world around them, as what you love, you will protect. And, also working with Primary Teachers and Schools to support them get their children connecting with and learning in nature within the school grounds. Kathy also offers Wellbeing Wanders - where she creates space for women to immerse themselves in nature, reconnect, recharge and replenish.
Kathy loves helping people of all ages (6 to 60 and beyond) connect with the magic of nature and experience the incredible benefits of learning, growth, development, calm, clarity and healing.
Her path to business ownership was one that took time, she had to overcome her fears and doubts to take those important first steps. Kathy told us that it took being made redundant to finally stop listening to her own excuses to get out of her own way and start Nature Library. Suddenly, she had all the time in the world to double down on what she really wanted for her life, and it was the biggest blessing. While Kathy always knew she wanted to work with kids, she also always knew she didn't want to have any of her own, a decision which has surprised and challenged some people she meets.
Family has always had a big influence on Kathy. She now lives in Waihi Beach, near to one of her sisters. Her Mum has moved back to Tauranga which has strengthened their relationship and she has become Kathy's biggest cheerleader. They love exploring nature together and Kathy reflect's that her mum "loves and notices nature like I do, or is it that I love and notice nature like she does, the latter I think".
Kathy has great plans in growing Nature Library working with teachers to learn the confidence to take kids into the natural world for learning opportunities. Her Nature Everyday Programme (Teacher Training and In-School Resource), is currently being worked into schools around New Zealand. While she loves being in a teaching role herself, she knows that empowering others to teach tamariki in the same way will ultimately help her in achieving her dreams.
When we asked her what one message is that she would want everyone to know, she told us
"We need nature, nature needs us – go outside, connect"
Getting in touch with nature doesn't need to be an Abel Tasman hike (although this is currently in Kathy's future). It can be as simple as going barefoot on the grass, looking up to the stars or listening to the wind in the trees. Stop and smell that flower, plant something and watch it grow.
Thank you Kathy for sharing your story with us, but right now? We're so inspired we're off to dip our toes in the sea.