Alumni Story

Human(e) nature

As a young girl, I was empowered when I was on the trail with my dad.

By Wendy Gorton ’06 Published on

As a young girl, I was empowered when I was on the trail with my dad; my courage grew as I climbed summits; I felt the rush of adrenaline when I explored waterfalls and caves.

When I was an LAUSD science educator, I was dissatisfied with the slim amount of real science education in our public schools and its lack of connection to the real world. I fought hard to bring our fourth-graders true outdoor science experiences. Today, I focus on helping teachers empower their students and themselves.

Inspired by the mentorship I received at USC Rossier, especially from Professors Sandra Kaplan and Margo Pensavalle, in a strong student-centered and constructivist foundation, I wrote 50 Hikes with Kids: California (as well as 50 Hikes with Kids: Oregon & Washington), infused with child-forward language, maps and scavenger hunts.

I’m passionate about ensuring all children get the chance to experience the Joshua trees, the sand dunes of the Mojave, the banana slugs on the redwoods and the rush of the Pacific Ocean waves. I promote engaging students and teachers with technology, but believe in a happy medium, like using phones for maps, recording bird calls and taking photos on the trail—but remember to disconnect, too!

These books are just one way we can be co-adventurers with our children, and I thank USC Rossier for giving me such a strong foundation in how children learn.

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