Unplugged Adventures: The Art of Nature Journaling with John Muir Laws

Episode 108
57m | May 7, 2024

As someone who deeply values the importance of connecting people with nature, I was thrilled to have John Muir Laws as a guest on the latest episode of The Fancy Scientist podcast. 

Ever since completing my PhD and working with kids, I've recognized that fostering an emotional attachment to nature, especially during childhood, is a central solution to all conservation problems. Because when people aren’t emotionally attached to nature, they won’t know how to care about its decline and loss. These attachments are formed from experiences in nature. And what better way to cultivate that connection than through the beautiful practice of nature journaling?

Nature journaling is the simple, yet profound act of using a notebook to record and draw your observations, questions, and reflections about the natural world around you. By slowing down and paying close attention to details, you not only deepen your appreciation for nature but also enhance your ability to remember and learn.

John Muir Laws is a champion of this transformative practice. With a background in wildlife biology and a lifelong passion for nature exploration, he has dedicated himself to spreading the joy and wisdom of nature journaling across the globe. In an era where technology often disconnects us from the great outdoors, his mission to reconnect people with the natural world is more relevant than ever.

In our conversation, John shared fascinating insights and practical tips for embracing nature journaling. We explored the benefits it offers for both children and adults, discussed strategies for overcoming the initial hesitancy (especially for us grown-ups!), and celebrated the sheer magic that unfolds when we immerse ourselves in the present moment, pen and notebook in hand.

Specifically, we discussed:

  • What exactly is nature journaling and how to get started
  • The benefits of nature journaling and being out in nature
  • The power of nature journaling in fostering deep observation, curiosity, and wonder
  • Practical techniques for engaging kids in nature journaling, including prompts and scaffolding
  • Overcoming the fear of "not being good enough" at drawing or writing, and embracing the journey
  • The importance of role-modeling present, nature-connected behavior for children
  • Strategies for making nature accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds
  • And MORE!!

Whether you're a seasoned nature lover or someone seeking to reignite your connection with the great outdoors, this episode is a delightful invitation to slow down, observe, and capture the beauty that surrounds us. So grab your notebook, sharpen those pencils, and get ready to embark on a journey of discovery and appreciation through the art of nature journaling.

Happy journaling, my fellow nature enthusiasts!

I’m Dr. Stephanie Manka (formerly Schuttler), a wildlife biologist of nearly 20 yrs with 20+ peer-reviewed scientific publications, author of the book Getting a Job in Wildlife Biology: What It’s Like and What You Need to Know ( and founder of Fancy Scientist. My channel and the Fancy Scientist LLC is dedicated to connecting people to science and nature, breaking stereotypes of, and empowering scientists. I help aspiring and struggling wildlife biologists get the right training so they can get jobs, live out their life’s purpose and make a difference in this world.

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Fancy Scientist with Dr. Stephanie Manka