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Nature Journaling

by Felicia Brower

woman-thinking-studyingRecording observations on your environment is an excellent way to connect with nature. Terry Hermsen teaches nature journaling sessions for Metro Parks and says journaling can be beneficial for people of all ages. “I think taking the time to record our times in nature is a way of keeping the experience close before it skips away,” says Hermsen. “Even small notations can help keep our attention alive.”

The idea of nature journaling might make some people apprehensive because they think they are not skilled writers or that they will not be able to capture moments in the natural world the way others do. “Some people can be very detailed about textures and sounds and creatures. Others may take a more impressionistic approach,” says Hermsen. “That’s the thing about journaling. There is no right way.” All you need is a way to record your feelings and a good place to observe.

Those new to nature journaling or those looking for inspiration can find many examples from the pioneers of nature journaling. Hermsen recommends the following titles:

  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
  • The Outermost House by Henry Beston
  • A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell
  • Seeing Nature: Deliberate Encounters with the Visible World by Paul Krafel
  • Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry edited by Camille Dungy
  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
  • Any of Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold or John Muir’s nature journals

Nature journaling lessons are sometimes an option, for those interested in learning the technique through interactive practice. Check with local parks and nature centers to see if they have any upcoming nature workshops available. In workshops, participants receive thorough instruction and immediate feedback to help improve journaling skills. Workshops help both novices and experts delve deeper into the nature journaling experience to get the most benefit from it.

Felicia Brower is a freelance writer based in Columbus. Connect at or email

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