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Who is Samantha Elie?

Samantha is a badass botanist and relentless researcher. Currently located at the tip of the Salish Sea, between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, she lives for plant-powered research that matters: the type that empowers and heals communities.

Samantha is wild about using plants to change the world. Native plants have relationships with their ecosystem and climate. Samantha applies these relationships to make gardens and farms more efficient, expand wildlife corridors, to add joy to people's lives and keep them safe (because native plants have relationships with their humans too!). As someone who loves cooking, art, and restoring urban habitat, Samantha finds ties between plants and humanity everywhere she looks.

Samantha believes that key environmental health solutions are community initiated and empowered by science. Samantha credits a global array of community knowledge for guiding much of her research and is committed to its leading light. Community knowledge thrives today and is passed through generations for a reason: it works for the people who use it. Researchers are just beginning to understand how societies have survived and thrived using plants for centuries.

Samantha’s spark was ignited at a youth-led sustainable farm in Rwanda, when she traveled there as a student in 2011. That spark gained oxygen the following year, as she wrote sustainable development policy recommendations with the Working Group on Girls at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Samantha was a Washington State Running Start student; then rounded out her undergraduate studies in the Peruvian Andes, the Nepali Himalayas, and the Olympics of Washington State, earning dual degrees in economic botany (BA) and montane ecology (BS) from The Evergreen State College. She is a first-generation college student with ambitious goals for her MSc and ultimately PhD programs.

Samantha’s work combines community and science. She mentors students, manages a native plant nursery, and volunteers avidly in the Pacific Northwest, United States. Her life’s undertaking is to reel-in a more optimistic future for the next generations: one where humans exist more harmoniously within ecosystems than we currently do. Samantha was raised in a world warning of floods, fire, and that youngsters won’t know what the mighty coastal redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) looks like; forget what they felt, smelt, and tasted like, the jobs they performed in the ecosystem, or the more emotive roles that they played. While the redwood’s fate is debatable at best, she knows that its premature extinction does not have to be the case for all beloved creatures. Samantha has faith in fantastically resilient plant-based relationships, humanity, and our ability to do better.

Samantha Elie Botanist