I grew up near the city of Chicago, and I lived in a very crowded neighborhood. I spent Saturdays with my uncle who lived on a farm surrounded by woods. We explored the woods together. He taught me the tree species, we collected wild edible plants, and made tools from the rocks and wood we collected from the forest. My uncle was my first forest ecology teacher, and I knew from an early age that I wanted a job where I could figure out how a forest worked.