Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place

Testimonials and Selected Appearances

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"In the hour she spoke and sang for us, she had all of us in the room reconnected to the land, to our special memories, and to our passion for the work." Lee Hayes, Vice President, Sippican Land Trust, MA

"I first met Erica at a retreat at the Center for Whole Communities. She was the only artist in a group of mostly professional conservationists where a focus was learning how to touch hearts, not just minds.That's just what Erica does with her songs ...she captures years of work in minutes of feeling." Kathy Abbott, Executive Vice President, Trustees of the Reservation, MA

"I was able to connect with a deeper side of myself. As a marine, I don’t always feel comfortable expressing philosophical or emotional feeling with strangers. However, these activities encouraged just that and the universally positive responses encouraged me further.” Interpretive Training Participant, Yosemite National Park, CA

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"Erica creates a kind of alchemy in the room where even the most timid of us is inspired to find the writer within. She gave us new tools and reminded me of tools I once knew and had long forgotten. She inspired me to get back to an interpretive project I had put aside which I am now working on with renewed enthusiasm and focus." Julia Clebsch, Interpretive Naturalist, Brooklyn, NY

"Erica has an amazing knack for bringing out the creativity in people. All of the workshop participants enjoyed being able to find a new level of interpreting personal experiences as well as developing their themes in a supportive, relaxed atmosphere." Deb Mitchell, Program Specialist, Montana Historical Society, Helena, MT

"If I had one word to describe Erica Wheeler's Soulful Landscape workshop, it would be 'magical.' The workshop was a big 'ah-ha' moment. I am a conservation professional, and although I hadn't put my finger on it until the workshop, I had been struggling with a sense of loss regarding my connection to nature that first inspired me to work in this field. The workshop rekindled that connection. I left with the tools and resolve to more intentionally tap into the power of nature and place as well as the inspiration to help others do the same." Claire Dacey, Naturalist, Artist, Historian, MA

"The workshop lit a spark and inspired me to start writing again. Her approach of interweaving landscape and natural history with oneself opened up a whole new avenue of writing I never thought about before. As an interpreter, it showed me another way to connect people to places, nature, and science: by relating it to personal thoughts, feelings and experiences." Thomas Meier, Interpretive Naturalist, Baltimore Woods Nature Center, Marcellus, NY

"We invited Erica out for a week to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Big Sur Land Trust with a variety of events. Her positive impact reverberated throughout our community and continues to this day. Erica's ability to connect people and place beautifully aligned with our mission to strengthen communities and inspire stewardship" Bill Leahy, Executive Director, Big Sur Land Trust, CA

"Particularly well suited for land trusts and other conservation organizations, as her art is intimately tied to the landscape and the sense of identity people derive from their surroundings." Leigh Youngblood, Executive Director, Mount Grace Land Trust, MA

"Having Erica join us for a day was the perfect kickoff to our land trust's initiative to connect people to the land in new ways. Partnering land preservation to the arts through Erica's writing workshop and family concert, we drew new faces to one of Westport's best known preserved landscapes. We're already being asked about next years concert." Peggy Stevens, Executive Director, Westport Land Trust, MA

"I loved Erica Wheeler's workshop in the woods, "Discover Your Personal Sense of Place Through Writing and Reflection." She created a safe and supportive environment for participants to write about the places that move them, that make them feel human, that anchor them in time and space. At the end of the 3- part writing prompt, I had enough material to write several powerful essays as well as a new idea for an inspirational card deck. If that wasn't enough, Erica listened to what I wrote and in less than a minute had whipped up a terrific song. If anyone can rally the preservation troops to get "a sense of place" off the endangered species list, it's Erica Wheeler." Giulietta "Julie" Nardone, Participant, Upton Forest State Park, MA

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"Place-based educator and author David Orr often writes that the ecological crisis is not a technical crisis, but rather a spiritual crisis. In a world where we often fail to connect our heads and our hearts, where we often rely so heavily on the deeply rational and scientific that we loose sight of our collective humanity, Erica helps us to bridge these spaces. Erica's songs weave together metaphors that speak to what we can learn from nature, and they encourage us to look closely at the world around us to discover what roots us to the places we love. Her work writing and singing about how people connect to places encourages us to move beyond technical solutions and perspectives, and to re-connect with the natural world in a way that acknowledges nature as a source of something more than a set resources for human use, but as a pathway for understanding and comprehending our life and life experiences." Torrey McMillan, Director, the Center for Sustainability at Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights, OH


"Erica's music changed the way I think about my job and my purpose in my park. It made me realize how what we do for people is really important. The time that they spend in our places is really important time, and the messages that we present to them are important. Our programs are more than just something to do in the park. That sense of connection stays with me whether I am with visitors or spending the afternoon with my family." Sarah Keating, Assistant Superintendent, Lake Dardanelle State Park, AR

"Erica has crafted a terrific training product that I know other agencies could use. She brings just the right blend of inspiration and direction that allows her to be an effective trainer with interpreters and park managers. Her work with the sense of place concept through her Soulful Landscape workshop provides excellent hands-on exercises in an area that is so often perceived as intangible, while her keynote was just the dose of inspiration we needed. Kelly Farrell, Assistant Chief of Interpretation, Arkansas State Park

"I have experienced Erica and her music at several conferences, workshops and meetings and the results are always the same. The energy in the room changes and an opening is created. There is a sense of playfulness and grounding. Emotional connections to land and place are strengthened and our energy for conservation work is renewed." Virginia Farley, Former Regional Director, Vermont Land Trust, VT

"In our environmental curriculum, where sensing and understanding the connections between academic disciplines are essential, we are always looking for ways to tie together course work. Erica's workshop and concert were exactly what our students needed. She helped them bring together all their ways of knowing, so they could better understand their relationship to place." Tim Farnham, Director of the Center for the Environment,Mount Holyoke College, MA

"A big part of the emphasis in first grade is to transition my students from just learning how to form the print of the English language to expressing themselves through their written words. My goal was to try to encourage discovering a sense of self in nature through the use of writing. Using Erica Wheelers ideas, I developed writing prompts incorporating nature. I must say that these were some of the best writing prompts I have ever used. The students were excited, had vast amounts to write about, freely expressed their thoughts without fear of right or wrong, and made a connection to nature/place and themselves." Saratoga Elementary School, Saratoga, WY

"With its emphasis on integrating writing, music, and a sense of place, Erica's workshop was incredibly inspiring... [She] gave us all an invaluable opportunity to reflect on our connections to the land, our personal history, and our best selves." Walter Poleman, Faculty Director, University of Vermont, VT

"Erica has an impressive versatility. Her warm personality and knowledge of her subject matter gave our students a gift: she empowered them to express themselves and connect to the land in a way many of them had never experienced before. " Margot Martin, Journeys School,(K-12) Jackson, WY

"Erica's outstanding workshop reminded us how deeply the arts can strengthen the voice and lend confidence to expressing one's own understanding of place." Alesia Maltz, Core Faculty,Antioch New England Graduate School, Keene, NH

"Erica's presentation was a welcome and enjoyable break from our rigorous academic schedule. The themes of place in her songs and stories were inspiring and completely relevant to our mission and course work." April Landale, Campus Director, Teton Science School, Graduate Program, Kelly, WY

"Living in one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world and I pride myself on the many ways that I appreciate and value this gift of place. Often my attempts to capture the wonder of what I see on film barely begin to do it justice. But when Erica Wheeler comes to town, her passion to give voice to this land and to stretch our hearts wide open is beyond inspiring. I believe we all come away craving an even deeper relationship with, and a renewed passion for our wilderness home. Not only is she an exceptional talent musically, she is provocative in such a moving, insightful and endearing way. Erica is blessed with a life purpose that encourages us all to strengthen and "step up" our commitment to place. I know that after I've been with her, I am more keen, more grateful and more enlivened on my path as a proper steward of the land." Laurie Shepherd Brown, Certified Life Coach and Integrative Health Consultant, Jackson, WY

"I've had "Good Summer Rain" for several years now, and I find that I turn to it again and again, like a good friend. Erica's music brings me home to myself, and reminds me to pay attention to the beauty of this world, no matter what is going on in my life. Lately, after the news of the Tsunami, earthquakes, and nuclear meltdowns in Japan, I found myself in a state of shock and overwhelm, and not quite sure what to do with myself. In a moment of inspiration, I put on Erica's CD. I was reassured by the graceful rhythms of her songs. Whatever we're going to face, as the planetary situation heats us, music is going to help us face it. I feel so lucky to have her music in my life, to help me keep going, to help me keep loving my life, this world and all of us who care so deeply about what happens to the earth. Deborah Seidman, Writer/ teacher, Taos, NM

Partial Client List:
Conferences and Trainings

  • National Association for Interpretation Annual Workshop, KS
  • American Horticultural Society Youth and Garden Symposium, DE
  • National Religious Partnership for the Environment Meeting, NY
  • Land Trust Alliance Rally, TN
  • Maryland Land Trust Alliance, MD
  • Georgia Environmental Educators Conference, GA
  • Idaho State Parks and Recreation Conference, ID
  • Montana Spring Interpretive Training, MT
  • Arkansas State Parks Winter Meeting, AR
  • Promise of Place Conference, VT
  • The Greater Yellowstone Coalition Annual Meeting, MT
  • Human Dimensions in Natural Resources Conference, UT
  • New England Environmental Education Alliance, RI
  • Massachusetts Environmental Education Society, MA
  • Women Outdoors Annual Gathering, NH
  • Forest Guild Annual Meeting, NH

Public Events

  • Yosemite National Park Parson's Lodge Series, CA
  • Scottsbluff National Monument, NE
  • Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, NE
  • Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, MA
  • Big Sur Land Trust 30th Anniversary, CA
  • Baltimore Woods Nature Center, NY
  • Aquidneck Land Trust Speaker Series, MA
  • Westport Land Trust, MA Sippican Land Trust Annual Meeting, MA

Educational Programs

  • Antioch New England Graduate School, NH
  • Teton Science School, WY
  • The Murie Center, WY
  • Paul Smiths College, NY
  • Mount Holyoke College Center for the Environment, MA
  • Thoreau Institute, MA Four Rivers Charter School, MA
CD Reviews
"If this CD doesn't compel you to get outside and enjoy what little green space we have left, put it on for a mental break while you're stuck in the concrete grid of rush hour."  -Performing Songwriter Magazine

"Listening to Good Summer Rain is like flipping through the photo album of an Ansel Adams road trip. Each artfully created song transports the listener to a particular location, like a snapshot in time." -Planet Jackson Hole News

"Her songs measure the cost of urban sprawl not in terms of species endangered, but in memories lost. Her lyrics evoke all the trails we've hiked, the streams swum, the trees climbed, and all the moments of growth enjoyed there--the silent epiphanies, the stolen kisses--without ever sounding preachy. But when she drops the truism "Your children won't know (the land) the way I did," suddenly your local zoning battle may seem a little more interesting." -Yankee Magazine

updated: 12 months ago