5 Impactful Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Almost 50 years ago, 20 million Americans participated in massive coast-to-coast rallies, advocating for heathy, sustainable environments on America’s first Earth Day celebration. Today, speaking up for our planet is more important than ever as our country teeters on the edge of returning to reckless industrialization or moving forward with responsible innovation. Since the beginning, we were entrusted to care for the earth, so I wanted to share 5 easy ways you can celebrate Earth Day  while making a lasting impact for generations to come.

1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycling is one of the easiest ways you can celebrate- most counties have a central recycling pick-up service, and recycling reciprocals are often located in accessible areas. Take a moment this weekend to familiarize yourself with what items your reciprocals will accept. I also challenge you to take recycling a step further and work toward cutting out plastic consumption all together with a zero waste lifestyle. Over the last few months, I made a handful of these changes myself!

A list of recyclable and non-recyclable items for Portage County

Recycling also goes beyond far more than the traditional plastics, glass and metals we’re familiar with. Did you know? You can actually recycle old electronics at Best Buy, recycle (or resell) clothes and compost certain foods and paper products. Before tossing anything in the trash, think first, can this be recycled or reused?

2. Grow A Garden, Plant a Tree

Spring is the perfect time to plant a garden or grow herbs in your kitchen. Not only will your new plant babies add flavor to your dishes, they’ll bring clean air into your home and neighborhood as they “exhale” oxygen. Gardening can also include flowers, bushes, trees and more. When you plant new foliage, the roots will help prevent erosion and the plant itself offers new habitats for local wildlife, making your yard an outdoor oasis.

Hands plant a cactus.

3. Clean Up Outdoor Messes

When I worked at Crooked River Adventures, I regularly saw tires, traffic cones and other trash sitting in the Cuyahoga River on low water days. This Earth Day (and every day) you can intentionally pick up trash in our parks, rivers and cities. My town also plans to host a Clean Up Kent event Saturday, April 21- check with your city leaders to see how you can help clean up your hometown too.

4. Learn About Our Earth

Education is the foundation of economic prosperity, improved societies and overall growth of individuals and nations. Make an effort to learn something new about our wonderful planet and your place in it. You could visit a nature center, enroll in an environmentalism program, read a book, watch documentaries like Planet Earth 2 or Before The Flood with Leonardo DiCaprio… the list goes on. Learning is the necessary first step to making any kind of lasting impact- if you don’t know it, how can you support it?

Planet Earth 2 Banner
5. Go Outside

This one’s simple: get off the couch and go outside! As you’ll find in this blog, Ohio has an unending amount of outdoor recreation. Our state is filled with national, state and local parks, breathtaking cliffs, gorgeous waterfalls, rivers, lakes, forests, meadows, swamps– really anything you can think of, I’d argue we have it or something very similar. So find a way to be outside this Earth Day! My plan is to go camping at West Branch State Park and make some awesome memories with my friends.


Earth Day celebrations don’t have to be limited to just one day out of the year. Why not take one or two suggestions from my list and make them a new habit? Will you commit to reducing your trash through recycling? Or read up on Ohio’s habitat preservation efforts? Maybe it’s as simple as going outside more often. Regardless, I hope you’ll make Earth Day and what it stands for less a holiday and more of a lifestyle.

How to Ski: Lessons from My Fourth Grade Self

I was 10-years-old when I put on my first pair of skis. As a goofy fourth grader, I was on the hunt for a new way to spend my winter weekends, and someway somehow I decided Ski Club was the way to do it. Since then, I’ve been on and off the slopes every season, becoming not so much an expert, but definitely more knowledgable in the sport than the average Joe. Thankfully for all my friends who ski with me, what I learned as a fourth grader stuck, and I continue to teach the basics using the same elementary school language as the ski instructors who taught me years ago.

Learning from A Fourth Grader

Childish, maybe, but memorable.  As my friends enroll in my unofficial skiing crash course, I’ve learned everyone picks up on the sport at a different rate. Regardless, from my many lessons led, I now know three universal concepts everyone should get before their first run.

1. Pizza and French Fries

Pizza and french fries are essential to skiing! While I wish I could tell you these American delicacies were served on every lift, I’m actually talking about your skis’ positions while on the slope.

pizza and french fries on a ski slope

If your skis look like french fries, then they are parallel and totally flat on the snow. You’re going to fly down and arrive at the bottom of the slope in seconds. If they look like a slice of pizza, then your skis are in a triangle shape and slightly bent inward so as to dig into the snow as you move. In pizza, you’ll travel much slower and have more control over your speed. In short, french fries = fast and pizza = slow. Easy to remember, right? After all, french fries are fast food and pizza takes about 30-40 minutes to make 😉

2. Crossed Skis Mean Hurt Knees

Crossing your skis is the equivalent of stepping on your own foot while walking; both will make you trip and fall. As a beginner, it’s super easy to accidentally cross your skis. I mean, your feet just grew to be as long as you are tall! I like to tell my friends, “crossed skis mean hurt knees” not only because it rhymes, but because it’s true. When you put on your ski boots, your ankles become locked in place, making your knees the next movable joint and the most vulnerable to injuries. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve fallen and totally wrecked my knees. It’s not very fun…

3. You Will Fall, So Practice It

My friend lying in the snow after a fall

In skiing, falling doesn’t always translate into failure. It’s actually a great way to avoid potentially painful crashes. Voluntary or not, falling is inevitable, so it’s best to learn how to do it well. As I mentioned, your knees are one of the most vulnerable joints on the slopes, so when you fall, do your best to protect your knees. Falling to side rather than forward or backward is the best way to keep your knees in tact. Another trick is to fall uphill; it’s the easiest position to get up from and it prevents you from sliding further down the slope. Sometimes, though, a fall is totally unexpected and you don’t have time to think about which direction to land. It just happens, and that’s okay! In any case, if you eat it, and I mean really eat it, your skis will pop off nine times out of 10.

Sure, skiing has a pretty steep learning curve, but once you have the basics down, I’d argue it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the winter weather. If you’re ready to take on Northeast Ohio’s slopes, I encourage you to check out my trip guide to Brandywine Ski Resort and plan your day on my favorite slopes! If not, you can always enjoy this video of me skiing in slow motion instead.



My Eclipse Experience

It was peaceful but eerie. Astoundingly beautiful but kind of underwhelming, all at the same time.

It’s hard for me to find the right words to describe Monday’s partial solar eclipse, which is saying a lot as I’m “a professional communicator.” Knowing my words and photos will never do the eclipse justice frustrates me, but I find comfort knowing that some things in life just can’t be described. For one, this keeps me humble and reminds me how small I am in the presence of God. The world is often times indescribable, and the best we can do to understand it is to just experience it. So here goes my attempt to describe my eclipse experience.


I pull into the parking lot at Mogadore Reservoir, my choice viewing location. I pump up my stand up paddle board, put on my life jacket and start to paddle out. I travel away from the put in, through the Route 43 underpass and into the giant reservoir. It’s pretty “normal” outside. A couple people are in boats, fishing alongside a handful of great blue herons.

Mogadore Reservoir before the eclipse

The eclipse is in full swing at this point and the sky is noticeably darker. It’s a mostly clear day, but it looks and feels like it’s about to rain. Everything around me is extremely still, almost creepy still. The wind stops blowing, the herons are gone and I haven’t seen a fish jump in more than 30 minutes. It’s almost like the world is preparing to stop for the eclipse. I decide to stop as well. I lay on my board, put on my eclipse glasses and watch as the moon slowly but surely covers more and more of the sun.

Mogadore Reservoir is erie and dark during the eclipse
Haley lays on her board

The sky during the eclipse with a sunflare

It’s peak eclipse time now. The sun looks the same to the naked eye but behind my glasses the shadow of the moon has taken over. I tried to capture the eclipse in a photo, but it was nearly impossible with my standard iPhone. However, in the bottom right of the sky, you can see a small sun flare in the shape of the eclipse.


By now, the world feels like it’s spinning again and Mogadore’s environment returns to it’s usual rhythm. I start to make my way back. As I think about what I just saw, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed, wondering what a total eclipse would have been like. None the less, I decide I’m happy I went out. I’m thankful for the stillness and peace I experienced and can’t wait for 2024. In seven years, the next solar eclipse will occur, and Ohio will be smack dab in the path of totality.

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse in Ohio

Millions of eyes will be on the sky this Monday and for good reason. For the first time in more than 30 years, the United States will be the hot spot for a total solar eclipse.

The path of totality will pass just south of Ohio, but that doesn’t mean the event is a total washout. The moon will still cover 80 to 90 percent of the sun from our vantage point, making Ohio a great place to see this celestial treat.

NASA created a fantastic interactive map that shows exactly what time the eclipse will happen by dropping a pin on the location of your choice. For Northeast Ohio, the eclipse will start at about 1PM and end close to 3PM. The best time to see the eclipse will be at roughly 2:30PM.

A screenshot of NASA's interactive map showing what time the eclipse will be over Northeast Ohio
Where to Watch
Attend a watch party

The eclipse is almost as exciting as watching the Cavs win the NBA Championship in 2016, so it’s no wonder Northeast Ohio will be littered with eclipse watch parties Monday afternoon. WKSU created a list of watch parties happening Monday, check out their list to find a watch party near you!

Watch at a park or at home

Eclipse glasses

If you want a more private viewing, then you can always watch it from a park, or even your back yard! If you choose the park route, I’d suggest going to Howe Meadow or The Ledges Shelter in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Both have huge grassy areas to lay in. Bring a blanket, pack a lunch and don’t forget to wear your eclipse glasses to protect your eyes! As for me, I plan to be at Mogadore Reservoir on a stand up paddle board. If you’re in or around Kent, you’re totally welcome to join me on the water this Monday. If you can’t make it, no worries. I plan to share a post about my eclipse experience, complete with photos, on Friday 😉

Watch it online

Okay, the reality is majority of you have a job or are in school, so watching the eclipse in the middle of a Monday afternoon may not be possible- but don’t feel like you have to miss out! Thankfully, NASA will have a live video stream starting at 1PM called Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASAEven though you might be trapped in a post lunch meeting, you can still enjoy the eclipse online.

I’m beyond excited to see this solar eclipse, and I hope you can find the perfect place to watch that also fits with your Monday schedule. I look forward to seeing your photos and hearing your stories on social media!


*Photos in this post were found on the NASA website and are not my own. 

Finding Myself on the PCT

Let’s get this out of the way.

No, I’m not cool enough to have hiked the Pacific Crest Trail this summer. I’m not even cool enough to have hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail, to be honest. However, I am cool enough to have read a book about the PCT.

At this point, I’m assuming you’ve heard about Wild by Cheryl Strayed. The book was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and also took the title of #1 New York Times Bestseller. The captivating story of a woman’s solo journey of healing and hiking has gained some serious popularity to say the least.

Although she and I had very little in common other than our short blonde hair, I felt oddly connected to Cheryl as I read her memoir. I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of two mildly-experienced outdoorswomen trying to process what happened in our lives and what we’re supposed to do now.

What happened in her life was wildly different than what happened in mine: She suffered through the death of her mother, destruction of her marriage and addiction to heroin. I did what most 22-year-olds do and graduated from college. Despite the extremity of her life compared to mine, we were both faced with the glaring realization that everything had changed and we were left in the aftermath of that change, unsure of what made us ourselves. By the end of her 1,100 mile solo hike, Cheryl was at peace with her past and confident in who it shaped her to be and as I closed the back cover of her book, I too felt confident in who I am becoming.

I’m no longer a college student, and that’s okay. I’m slowly but surely becoming a young professional, and that’s okay too because I’ve realized that “a college student” or “a public relations guru” isn’t who I am anyway. Instead, God reminded me that my identity is found in Him above all else. He tells me He chose me to be His forever, as His beloved, set apart from everyone else and cared for unconditionally for eternity (1 Peter 1). That, unlike where I work or what I do, won’t ever change.

Still, I admit adulthood and change and everything else that comes with that is terrifying, so I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Wild about fear:

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” -Cheryl Strayed


How to: Speak like a Climber

This semester I climbed at the rock wall periodically- yay for Free Climb Fridays at Kent State’s rec center- and I quickly learned there’s a certain culture that exists at the wall. Most people I met drink black coffee, wear khakis and flannels and spend as much time as possible outdoors. I fit right in.

However, the more time I spent with my friends at the rock wall, the more I noticed the language barrier that existed between us. There’s a whole slew of words and phrases that make up a climber’s vocabulary- from belays to arêtes to the Yosemite Decimal System– all of which make up this new language I’m learning.

Below are a couple common conversations I heard at the wall, translated into standard English:

Haley climbs a route.

What they say: “Can I get a belay?”

What they really mean: “Can someone hold my rope so I can climb up the wall and not fall to my death?”

What they say: “Oh that route’s tough. It supposed to be a 5.8 but it’s more like a 5.10.”

What they really mean: “The direction you’re supposed to climb up the wall is hard. On the Yosemite Decimal System (a system that rates the difficulty of technical climbs from 5.0-5.15) this route is labeled as a medium level route but it’s actually closer to medium-hard.”

What they say: “Let’s climb over by the dihedral instead. There’s a route there that has a couple nice jugs.”

What they really mean: “Let’s climb on a part of the wall where two planes of the wall come together to form a corner. There’s a way to get up the wall that has a couple super easy places to put your hands.”

What they say: “Try to get your legs up! You can smear your right foot and then stem your way up.”

What they really mean: “To climb higher on the wall, you’ll need to move your feet up the wall. You can put your entire foot directly on the wall for friction and then spread your legs into a wide V-shape to work your way up.”

What they say: “Take!” “Got you.” “Ready to lower.” “Lowering.”

What they really mean: “I’m at the top, can you get rid of any slack in the rope?” “I took the slack out, I’m holding on tight.” “I’m ready to come down.” “Bringing you down.”

Now that I’m not a student and lost a lot of the freebies that come with being in undergrad, I hope to spend some time at Rock Mill and Cleveland Rock Gym. Stay tuned for more posts to come this summer about climbing and other adventures! Until then, enjoy this super adorable photo of my friend Kait and I at the rock wall.


The National Park Service Goes Rogue

I don’t want to get too political here, but this is something worth talking about: our national parks are going rogue and Cuyahoga Valley National Park employees are part of the resistance.

Quote about park rangers leading the resistance

Why They Went Rogue

Okay let me back up- rogue Twitter accounts didn’t pop up just because they want to. Here’s a little background about what happened that led to alternate accounts.

On inauguration day, the Trump administration released alternative facts regarding the inauguration attendance, causing yet another controversial discussion about the legitimacy of his leadership. Twitter users responded, sharing comparison photos of Trump’s inauguration crowd next to Obama’s 2009 crowd, debunking the administration’s false claims. The National Park Service account jumped in and retweeted the photo, fueling the fire.

National Park Service Retweets inauguration post

The new administration followed up with an email to thousands of employees in the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service, stating that all Twitter accounts are to be shut down “until further notice.” The administration now says the shutdown was to ensure the security of the accounts. Below is a quote from the email, originally reported by The Washington Post:

“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” said an email circulated to thousands of Interior employees.

By the next day, the National Park Service account was back up and running and issued an apology for its retweet, but new accounts like the Alt National Park Service and Badlands NPS Fans were also on the scene, sharing sassy posts and starting heated conversations.

The Parks Fight Back

Trump has made plenty of offhand comments about climate change and other issues relating to the parks, but his order to shutdown the National Park Service Twitter account seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Employees from Cuyahoga Valley and eight other national parks created the Alt National Park Service, a growing coalition of park employees speaking out against the Trump administration. They even have a website for people to join their movement to preserve the environment for future generations. Below is a photo of a beach in Acadia National Park, originally posted on their Facebook page:

Resist written on a beach in Acadia National Park

Individual parks also went rogue and nine national parks now have alternative accounts, but my personal favorite is Badlands NPS Fans. Although the Badlands account isn’t run by park employees, it still contributes to the conversation with its tongue and cheek posts about climate change and politics. Below are a couple of my favorite tweets, published on their feed:

Badlands tweet

Badlands tweet

Buzzfeed called this “the one protest no one saw coming,” a perfect description of the situation at hand. I mean, who would’ve thought that park rangers would lead a resistance against the President?

New Year, New You: Yoga Edition

So I’m not much of the new year resolutions type, but this year, I had an itch to rekindle an old habit: yoga. I was introduced to yoga when I registered for an “easy elective” yoga course my sophomore year of college. My class met just once a week for a little more than an hour, but that minimal time commitment brought lasting benefits like learning to focus on what really matters in life and destressing from my busy college schedule. Not to mention, I could finally touch my toes for the first time in years!

I decided to return to the practice this year and enrolled in a free, 31 Days of Yoga bootcamp from Yoga with Adriene. Let’s be real though- I’m just 7 days in and it’s totally kicking my butt. Yet, this core burning, sweat inducing yoga routine is so worth it. Here’s why.

Haley does a yoga pose
Why I Yoga
It improves my posture, strength, balance, flexibility and more

As I said before, yoga gave me amazing flexibility (I’m already inching closer to a no-bent-knees forward fold!). In addition to increased flexibility, yoga also creates strong core muscles, promotes better posture and improves your balance. I always go back to yoga because it makes me feel (and look) great.

I feel connected to God

Yoga is about connecting the mind, body and spirit, which makes it deeper and more spiritual than your average workout. Yoga encourages self-reflection and being present, and I love to use those principles to guide my thoughts during the practice. By engaging my mind, body and spirit, I feel close to the Holy Spirit and grow in my understanding of God, his character and his plan for my life.

I feel refreshed

I really feel fantastic after a yoga practice, no matter how intense or calm it was. Because of yoga’s peaks and valleys structure, I always end feeling refreshed and relaxed, more limber and loose both physically and mentally than when I started.

It’s free, easy and versatile

Yoga has to be one of the most low maintenance exercises out there. Ultimately, all you really need for a successful yoga practice is yourself. Of course, a mat and yoga instructor are important components but not so much necessary, especially if you’re an experienced yogi. But for those of us who aren’t totally comfortable going solo, there are some great online resources out there like Yoga with Adriene. On her YouTube channel you’ll find practices for every need, all for free! Because yoga is so minimalistic, it’s perfect to do at home, on vacation, at a park… really anywhere your heart desires.

Haley's cat near her yoga mat

And the final reason why I yoga? Cats. My cats love the texture of the mat and usually stop by to walk across it and rub against my legs. Ebony, the one pictured above, is a regular visitor.

#OptOutside on Black Friday

Black Friday brings out the camper in all of us. But rather than camping outside your favorite retail store, why not camp in your favorite park?

For the second year in a row, Seattle-based outdoor co-op REI will close its doors for Black Friday and give its employees paid time off to #OptOutside. More than 540 other retailers chose to partner with REI and encourage America to stand outside rather than stand in line.


How To: #OptOutside in Ohio

You can join me and the 4 million people who pledged to #OptOutside this Friday. Be sure to share your experiences on social media and check out REI’s filters like the one I made below. Here are just 4 outdoor activities you can do in Northeast Ohio:

1.Go for a Morning Run

If you ate a little too much stuffing and mashed potatoes, consider a morning run to melt off Thanksgiving’s extra calories. Medina’s Buckeye Woods Park is my family’s favorite and great for some post-holiday dinner exercise. You can choose from five different trails, making the park perfect for any occasion. Run the yellow or green trail in the Schleman Nature Preserve for a quiet, woodsy experience or take the paved Chippewa Inlet Trail for a more open and urban feel.

This Black Friday I'll be outside2. Break out the Bike

Not into running? Me neither. I’d much rather be on a bike. The Towpath Trail offers 85 miles of bike-able terrain and follows the historic Ohio & Erie Canalway. You can pick up one of 50 trailheads anywhere between Cleveland and Dover. My family and I biked from Indigo Lake to Boston Store back in October.

3. Ice Skate Downtown

Feeling festive? Cleveland and Akron’s outdoor skating rinks are now open! Bring your family to Cleveland’s Public Square or Lock 3 in Akron for an afternoon of skating and other Christmas activities.

4. Visit Northeast Ohio’s Waterfalls

Ohio is home to many beautiful waterfalls, and a whopping 16 falls are here in Northeast Ohio! Make it a day trip and visit them all or choose just one to admire for the afternoon. Check out this interactive Google map of the waterfalls in our area:

So what do you say? Will you go out with me?

7 Ways to Leave No Trace

I’ve gone on a couple trips at this point, so I wanted to take a moment and talk about something called Leave No Trace. This is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program and teaches others how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. The organization offers endless information about caring for the environment, so I created this easy infographic to explain the 7 ways you can both enjoy the outdoors and respect the natural world. Comment below to tell me what principles you decided to try!

An Infographic that displays Leave No Trace 7 Principles