Born in the early-mid 80’s to a firefighter and a PG&E employee, at a Kaiser Hospital in the southeast SF Bay Area, Laura spent the first decade or so of her life doing what kids do best – exploring, learning, growing, and forging social connections.
At the age of 18, Laura left her hometown of Livermore, in California’s Tri-Valley, to attend college at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Although she had originally planned to earn her degree in the field of Biology, Laura graduated from UCSC’s Environmental Studies program with Highest Honors in the Major, appreciating the connection between the ecological and biological sciences with the human social realm that the Environmental Studies major highlights.
Laura put the knowledge she gained from classes such as Restoration Ecology, Ethnobotany (with Steve Gliessman), Natural History of Birds (with Breck Tyler), Environmental Action Through Writing (with Sarah Rabkin), and Environmental Education (with Pete Holloran), as well as internships with the UCSC Museum of Natural History (under Tonya Haff) and an interpretive docent role at Natural Bridges State Beach (under Martha Nitzberg) to good use as an Americorps member performing community outreach and creek restoration as the City of Gresham, Oregon’s, Heiney Creek Specialist (under Laura Guderyahn).After her 11 month term with Americorps ended, Laura returned to the lush redwood ecosystem of northern California to work at Westminster Woods (under David Berman and Rebecca Detrich), where she spent about 6 years performing in various roles, but primarily acting as a Teacher Naturalist and Challenge Course Facilitator, tailoring curriculum developed by Ken Beals, Lynn Barakos, and the Beetle’s Core Team to meet the needs of students K-12th grades as appropriate, keeping her groups safe on the ground and on the ropes, and helping students and chaperones forge connections with themselves, each other, and the environment through fostering communication skills and giving structures opportunity for observation and exploration in a variety of California’s diverse ecosystems.
In Fall 2015, while working part time at “the Woods” and taking the beginning semester of classes to earn a Computer Programming/Web Development Certificate from Santa Rosa Junior College, Laura received a diagnosis of a vestibular schwannoma, or acoustic neuroma, which led to a lot of testing, MRIs, and no small amount of anxiety. At this time, Laura stopped working at the Woods and chose to focus on her classes and her health.
In January 2016 Laura had a surgery to “de-bulk” this approximately golf-ball sized tumor, which was compressing her hearing and balance nerve, causing partial facial numbness, and partial hearing loss. The surgery has left her permanently deaf on her left side, and she has yet to regain her ability to cry out of her left eye.
Due to the stresses of her health/the surgery, being removed from her community at the Woods, moving back in with her wonderfully supportive but very parental parents, and the loss of an 8.5 year romantic partnership and 14.5 year friendship, Laura experienced her first major hypomanic episode and received a mental health diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, later to be specified as type 2.
In April 2016 Laura got to experience the joys (note: tone = sarcastic) of having her head encased in a stereotactic cage so that she could have gamma knife surgery to direct radiation precisely at the remaining tumor cells in her skull.
After these travails, Laura continued to push forward, taking online classes in beginning Photoshop and InDesign in the summer of 2016, while suffering from the most intense depressive episode she has ever experienced. In Fall 2016 she got a job through a friend as a Temp Sales Associate at Halloween City, and when that position finished, she hopped into a role as a Consumables/Market Team Member with her local Target.
After her role with Target ended, Laura chose to take a change and forge ahead with an idea that had been developing in her mind over the past few years – to start her own business. Originally indenting to build a business around the idea of being a “Nature Nanny”, Laura realized she had a wider skillset to offer and a passion for solving problems of all types and helping people and the earth, so she chose in April 2017 to become the licensed sole proprietor of Laura Barrow, Independent Consultant and Contractor.
And here we are today, Laura is just beginning this journey as a businesswoman, but is immensely grateful to her community – family, friends, and all who have helped her in any way to get where she is today.
~ Thank You ~