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Current Projects

Nursery Manager at Sound Native Plants

The Sound Native Plants nursery is grown in 30 years of hands-on Pacific Northwest restoration research. Samantha propagates and fosters plants then ushers them to coastal and forest restoration sites as well as urban low impact development projects. Samantha explores plant-based solutions to climate change problems with large project managers, government agents, and local property owners. Learn more about Sound Native Plants at www.soundnativeplants.com

Homeward Bound Leadership Initiative Member HB6

“Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking, global leadership initiative, set against the backdrop of Antarctica, which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet. Its three strategic focal points are: I am willing and able to lead; We are stronger together; and we are taking actions with impact.” Learn more about the HB experience here.

Biodiversity and Health Working Group

Samantha is a member of the new Biodiversity Working Group, an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals and assorted ecologists in HB. This group considers how ecological biodiversity intersects with human health and furthermore seeks to communicate why native biodiversity is so important to our health.

“Trailing Edge” Fire Ecology Research

Contributions include field survey of vegetative regeneration after severe wildfire, assessment of prefire canopy composition and forest type, as well as post fieldwork data entry and organization for study. Research asks if the “Trailing Edge” zone of low elevation mountain forests will return to a similar species composition after severe wildfire, or into dry shrub or scabland under the influence of warming conditions. 

Understanding the “Trailing Edge” in WA State and elsewhere helps us locally observe and forecast species migration and climatic changes. These affect not only plant populations, but rangeland, game, birds, fish, insects, agriculture, fresh waterways, oceans, or in other words, total human quality of life and viability.

Samantha Elie Botanist 

Samantha Elie Botanist's goal is to inspire adaptive and legacy-minded community stewardship with accessible plant-based education. Researching and writing about the intelligence of our native plants and their ecosystem services then sharing with the public is refreshing against the doom-media of climate change. Samantha Elie Botanist aims to publish an optimistically pragmatic point of view: the world is changing and plants can make it a positive one.

Youth Ecology Education through Restoration West Steward with Washington Native Plant Society

in partnership with Capitol Land Trust and the Shelton School District

Second year of support to the Youth Ecology Education through Restoration (YEER) program. The goal of this YEER project is to get students thinking about how they can increase local biodiversity and to build their relationship to the land and southern Salish Sea. The YEER project sets middle school students as restoration practitioners with concentrated class time focused on restoration ecology and working field days in the fall, winter, and spring. Field days encourage curiosity and leadership for the natural world. As part of the United Nations Decade on Restoration this action seeks to have ecological and relational impact for generations.

Learn more about this project on Washington Native Plant Society’s website www.wnps.org/youth-ecology-education. Learn more about the restoration site, Twin Rivers, on Capitol Land Trust’s website www.capitollandtrust.org/conserved-lands/conservation-areas/oakland-bay-goldsborough-creek-watershed/twin-rivers-ranch-preserve/

Initiatives That Samantha Loves To Support Whenever Possible

Haki Farmers Collective  Haki Farmers collective seeks to bolster and reincorporate traditional and inherently sustainable farming knowledge that is present in our migrant and indigenous communities. Learn more at www.hakifarmers.org/

Garden Raised (u) Bounty, GRuB Growing Healthy Food, People & Community. Learn more at www.goodgrub.org/

Native Plant Salvage Foundation Providing hands-on education to protect and conserve water resources and habitat from the South Sound prairies to the shores of the Salish Sea. Learn more at www.nativeplantsalvage.org/ 

Washington Native Plant Society To promote the appreciation and conservation of Washington's native plants and their habitats through study, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.wnps.org/

African Road African Road builds long term relationships with local Changemakers, for the life, health and growth of communities in East Africa. Learn more at www.africanroad.org/

Past Education, Restoration, and Green Stormwater Infrastructure Projects

Thurston County Accountability and Restitution Center Green Stormwater Infrastructure Planting

in partnership with Native Plant Salvage Foundation, Thurston County Stream Team, Thurston County, and Washington State University Thurston County Extension

Coordinated, designed, and lead volunteer plantings and subsequent upkeep events to install native and water-wise plants that buffer large amounts of stormwater from a nearby salmon-baring stream.

Jefferson County Rain Garden Installation

in partnership with Native Plant Salvage Foundation, Jefferson County Marine Resource Center, Northwest Straits Foundation, and Washington State University Jefferson County Extension

Lead volunteer installations. Rain gardens beautifully manage and filter stormwater while providing many other ecosystem services like feeding pollinators, mending degraded city soil, and sheltering small critters.

McLane Creek Riparian Stewardship 

in partnership with Native Plant Salvage Foundation, Thurston County Stream Team and Washington State University Thurston County Extension

Coordinated, designed, and lead volunteers in trimming back plants along the trail with an educated eye and cleaning boardwalks and paths of large or slippery forest debris.

McLane Creek Riparian Restoration

in partnership with Native Plant Salvage Foundation, Thurston County Stream Team and Washington State University Thurston County Extension

Coordinated, designed, and lead volunteer plantings to enhance habitat for salmon and other wildlife and discourage social trails to sensitive areas of the park.

Lowland Forest, Riparian, and Estuary Restoration

in partnership with Native Plant Salvage Foundation, Capitol Land Trust, and Washington State University Thurston County Extension

Coordinated, designed, and lead volunteer plantings. Native shrubs and trees protect freshwater wetlands, marine shoreline, salmon-bearing streams, and lowland forest habitat. 

Inspiring Kids Preserve 

Goal: install native wetland plants in the depths of new ponds created to enhance habitat and learning. Learn more about this project on Capitol Land Trust’s website www.capitollandtrust.org/conserved-lands/conservation-areas/budd-henderson-inlets/inspiring-kids-preserve/

Harmony Farm Preserve 

Goal: Revegetate retired agricultural land to rebuild native habitat. Learn more about this project on Capitol Land Trust’s website www.capitollandtrust.org/conserved-lands/conservation-areas/budd-henderson-inlets/harmony-farm-conservation-easement/

Brown Preserve 

Goal: protect pristine estuary and mature forest habitat for both wildlife and people to enjoy. Learn more about this project on Capitol Land Trust’s website www.capitollandtrust.org/conserved-lands/conservation-areas/budd-henderson-inlets/brown-conservation-easement/

Darlin Creek Preserve

Goal: replant former Scot's Broom groves with native and habitat-forming flora. Learn more about this project on Capitol Land Trust’s website www.capitollandtrust.org/conserved-lands/conservation-areas/black-river-chehalis-watershed/darlin-creek-preserve/

Biological and Ecological Concepts Teacher with Heartlife Imagineering Homeschool Co-op

Middle school science instructor at a small and conservative homeschool co-op. See entry in Teachings and Trainings Facilitated below.

Wildhood Micro-Schools Forest School Program Coordinator and Instructor       

Structured marketing, social media, document organization, and financial tracking strategies for an outdoor early childhood education startup. Assisted in teaching, often in Spanish, and advanced students’ social and technical skills through the Forest School model.

Undergraduate Research

Elevation Ranges of Conifers Compared in Burned and Unburned Plots in Old Growth Forest of Mount Rose, Washington

Primary research in montane terrestrial ecology · Olympia, WA ·  June, 2016

Survey and analysis of conifer seedling communities along an elevation gradient in burned and unburned plots to observe differences in species succession after fire. 

Effect of Saltwater on Alnus rubra Photosynthesis

Primary research in coastal terrestrial ecology · Olympia, WA · June, 2016

Measured leaf respiration rate to evaluate photosynthesis in coastal alders that had submerged roots at high tide. Coastal alders were compared to inland controls.

Patterns of Intertidal Burrowing Organisms in the Southern Puget Sound

Primary research in urban shoreline marine ecology · Olympia, WA · June, 2016           

Observation of intertidal burrowing life on five beaches in the southern Salish sea. Each beach was surveyed at low, mid, and high tides.

Zingiber officinale: A Case Study of Cultural Change due to Globalization

Secondary research in economic botany · Olympia, WA · March, 2016

Comparison of traditional ginger use, cultivation, and modern cash-cropping in the Himalayas and Andes. 

Capitalistic tendencies of Zingiber officinale 

Secondary research in economic botany · Olympia, WA · March, 2015                                                     

History of ginger as it entered the spice trade, commercialization, and traditional spiritual practice. 

Hands on Plant and Food Systems in a Cloud Forest Conservancy

Primary research in cloud-forest ecology and env. education · Cusco, Peru · June, 2014                                

Survey, interview, and secondary research on tea growing and vegetable farming agroecological techniques, Andean market systems and food preparation. Research conducted during my internship with Pacha Conservancy, see the Academic Travel: Pacha Conservancy section for details.

Academic Travel

Habitat, Conservation, and Land Use · Khumbu region, Nepal

Organized by Wildlands Studies and accredited by California State Uni. · April - June 2015

Seven-week program focused on habitat conservation, land use, and ecology on an elevational gradient in the Nepali Himalayas. Team orientation in Kathmandu (4,593′), one-week of field studies in Chitwan National Park (330’), then five-weeks of field studies in the Himalayan foothills. Our group trekked from Jiri (elv. 6,250’) to Everest Basecamp and Mt. Kala Patthar (elv. 18,225’). Two faculty members hosted daily lectures on local plants and animals, hydrology, geography, economic botany, and the Nepali language. Field and secondary study of native and garden plants, particularly, ginger and turmeric. Presented on Zingiberaceae (ginger family) cultivation and Himalayan cultural significance to cohort.

Agroecology, Cultural Anthropology, and Linguistics · Cusco and Puno regions, Peru

Organized and accredited by The Evergreen State College; Spanish and Quechua studies with Amauta Spanish School · February - June 2014

Five-month language and cultural immersion program in the Andean mountains, primarily in Cusco and the Urubamba Valley, Peru. Program themes included subsistence agriculture and agricultural technologies, native plant medicines, and local market structures; montane and subalpine ecology; Quechua and Spanish languages. Students spent one-week in Manu National Park, studying Amazonian flora and fauna while inspecting the issue of insect trafficking; and ten days near Lake Titicaca, with focus on lake ecology and economy. Time abroad also included a three month research internship in the Lucumayu Valley Cloud Forest, see Pacha Conservancy entry below for details.

Research Internship with Pacha Conservancy · Cusco region, Peru

Lucumayu Valley, Peru · April - June 2014

Primary themes included ecological outreach and education for rural populations in Spanish and Quechua languages; montane market structures, permaculture systems, and epiphytic plant communities. Designed and installed infrastructure for an interpretive center that included traditional Peruvian-Andes terraces, vegetable garden plot, and endemic orchid interactive area. Gained technical skills including Cloud Forest plant identification, salvage, and transplant; secondary, interview, and survey research in English, Spanish, and Quechua.

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women · New York City, NY

The Working Group on Girls member and African Road representative · February - March 2012

10-day convention on issues faced by rural women and girls. Selected as a youth representative to attend policy discussions, panels, presentations, and networking events at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Part of an international team of youths that contributed to the CSW 56 Girls Statement, policy recommendations that were submitted and considered for adoption.

Teachings and Trainings Facilitated

Native Plant Excursions with Native Plant Salvage Foundation

In-person all day naturalist field trainings for the public identifying the variety of life in a range of Pacific Northwest ecosystems:

  • Sub-alpine winter twigs, trees, mosses, lichen, and animal track/scat identification. Mt. Tahoma Trails Association, Mt. Rainier, WA.
  • Coastal freshwater and sphagnum bog trees, shrubs, mosses, grass/sedge/rush, and perennial identification. North Bay Natural Area Preserve, Grays Harbor County, WA.
  • Lowland coastal forest and shoreline trees, shrubs grass/sedge/rush, and perennial identification. Griffiths-Priday State Park, Copalis Beach, WA.
  • Alpine and sub-alpine trees, shrubs, mosses, lichens, grass/sedge/rush, and perennial identification. Noble Knob, Mt. Rainier, WA.

Native Plant Excursions are a prized brain-baby collaboration between Samantha and a past board member both enthusiastic about duly expanding the non-profit’s education audience and ecosystems of study. These events are packed with adventure and delight. Because of our stellar partners, often NPSF are allowed into otherwise restricted ecosystems for our careful botany crawling. Highly recommend checking them out if you are near Olympia, WA www.nativeplantsalvage.org/excursions

Native Plant Propagation with Native Plant Salvage Foundation 

in partnership with Thurston County Stream Team and Washington State University Thurston County Extension

In-person training for the public on native plant propagation from seeds, starts, cuttings, and salvaging at the Foundation’s nursery and holding beds.

Rain Garden Building with Native Plant Salvage Foundation

in partnership with Jefferson County Marine Resource Center, Northwest Straits Foundation, and Washington State University Jefferson County Extension

In-person field training on Rain Garden construction and proper planting technique in addition to “in-class” sessions on preplanning strategy, funding availability, and plant selection.

Winter Twig Identification with Native Plant Salvage Foundation

in partnership with Thurston County Stream Team and Washington State University Thurston County Extension

In-person field training for the public and professionals to identify lowland South Salish native trees and shrubs in their leafless-states.

Native Plant Salvaging with Native Plant Salvage Foundation

in partnership with Thurston County Stream Team and Washington State University Thurston County Extension

In-person field training for the public and professionals on native plant identification, salvaging, and propagation strategies.

Plant Outings with Native Plant Salvage Foundation 

in partnership with Thurston County Stream Team and Washington State University Thurston County Extension                 

In-person field training for the public and professionals to identify lowland riparian South Salish native plants in their blooming and fruiting states.

Riparian, Estuary, and Lowland Forest Stewardship and Restoration

In-person field training for the public and professionals on riparian, estuary, and lowland ecosystem restoration and maintenance, native plants, and habitat conservation. Taught a variety of strategies for installation and plant selection. See Past Projects section for some specific restoration sites and partners.

Biological and Ecological Concepts Teacher with Heartlife Imagineering Homeschool Co-op  

Academic curriculum and budget planning for a class of students, ages 10-15. Lessons included introductory biology and urban ecology. Curriculum was place-based and art-centric, in order to encourage student development in creativity and leadership.

Samantha Elie Botanist