Audra Marotta's Story


I grew up in rural north central Illinois with roughly 8 acres of wooded forest at the back of our property. I\'d spend my summers outside, sunup til sundown, playing in these woods completely unsupervised. Most days I\'d climb trees to learn, to explore. I\'d discover spore mushrooms that blew out gorgeous clouds when squeezed, watch baby robins grow up inside their nests, pick wild raspberries that I couldn\'t reach from the ground, and imagine myself as the gatekeeper of the woods from atop the tree branches. By climbing trees my curiosity and love of science flourished, my sense of adventure strengthened, my imagination soared. Of course I often fell out of these trees onto the forest floor before and still have two distinct scars on my legs that evidence my days of youth. But every time I look at those scars I don\'t remember how much it hurt to fall. I remember how much fun it was to explore and to play.