Rochester Ecology Partners is pleased to introduce Loretta Hauslauer as our newest Nature-based Learning Educator.

“Nature allows me to see myself as a part of something much bigger than me; something that is complex and interconnected with the community that I live in. It’s a humbling and inviting feeling.”

Loretta’s goal to help others find that feeling is what brought her to the field of outdoor education and ultimately, Rochester Ecology Partners. Loretta grew up on a family farm in rural Western N.Y before moving to Rochester in 2020. Prior to discovering nature-based learning, she worked in education as a TESOL/TEFL teacher both locally and abroad. “I’ve always loved academia and education, but saw plenty of ways that it either wasn’t enjoyable or equitable. I knew that I was happier teaching outside and my students were more engaged, so I began to pursue opportunities in outdoor education.”

Loretta found such an opportunity as a Learning Guide for Earthworks, a wilderness and exploration-based youth development program, where she worked for the last nearly 2 years. “Growing up in a rural community, I certainly took my access to nature for granted,” Loretta says. “Taking kids into a variety of outdoor spaces across Rochester, and seeing how much joy they find in some very limited green spaces has given me a new appreciation for what we can find where we live.” These experiences allowed Loretta to recognize the power that connecting in natural spaces can hold for children and adults alike, but she also wants to be able to address the inequalities that exist. “Through my personal experiences and the work I’ve done, there’s no question to me that access to nature is a human right and essential in a healthy community,” Loretta says. “I’ve seen people become happier, and healthier spending time in nature. I’ve seen them develop connections within their community, care about where they live, and teach others what they’ve learned. I’ve seen so many people simply find a bit of peace. But not everyone gets that opportunity, or knows how to take advantage of it. That’s why I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of the fight for this right.”

Loretta has consistently been active in community organizing and she is excited for this to be a focus of her role as a Nature-based learning educator. “ Finding and sharing a community is one of the most important things to me,” she says. Loretta feels that at REP she and the team will work to not only create positive, equitable and sustainable changes themselves, but actually lift others who are trying to do the same. “Working alongside others, sharing our ideas, skills, and resources is what brings me purpose and joy. Everyone at REP pursues this with passion, and I guarantee, I’m going to show up everyday with this passion too.” Moving forward with this team, Loretta is looking forward to helping develop more opportunities for community cultivation and partnership. She wants to continue to see in what creative ways we can all get connected.

“Never had I ever imagined that I could be so happy turning up to my job everyday. I truly feel like this is where I’m meant to be and what I’m meant to do,” Loretta shares. “The Rochester community has only welcomed and supported me and now I get to pay it forward in a really wonderful way. I can’t wait to show the kids that I work with that they too could be doing something like this someday in their own communities.” She is eager for the work to come. “I already see opportunities with Rochester Ecology Partners to be creative, be passionate, and be a part of something bigger than myself,” she says. “So let’s get to it!”

If you see Loretta out there, in the rain, snow or sunshine, don’t be afraid to say hi or ask for help finding nature in your own community.