Nature’s Calling…Can You Hear It?
April 2023 Issue
by Edwina Hoyle
Photography by Cassidy Dunn
Have you ever heard the call of a whippoorwill in the early evening? Or been fascinated watching an egret catch a frog on the shore of a lagoon? Or even just closed your eyes to relax in the sun and watch the kaleidoscope of colors on your “movie screen” eyelids? Nature calls in subtle ways: a whisper; a gentle breeze; or no sound at all. Mother Nature calls us to engage with her, to bask in her beauty and find refuge in her tranquility.
Jill Moore, a master naturalist, answered the call and wants everyone to experience the glory that is nature. “The Lowcountry has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world,” she said. “Everything in nature has a different theme depending on the time of year and the place, like the salt marsh and the tides, the birds, spartina grass, and dolphins. It’s surprising how different the same place can be each time. You might see an alligator eating a bird, or a great blue heron eating a snake, or dolphins strand-feeding.”
Jill wants to connect people and places, and she does it all—nature walks, beach walks, kayak trips, eco-cruises, bike tours, individual or family nature tours, and even multi-day adventures. A woman who recently participated in a nature walk with Jill commented afterward, “This has totally fed my soul.” Well said. And that is exactly what nature can do for us.
“When I do nature walks, I read the landscape and tie it back to history. As an educator, I recognize the historical and scientific factors of our unique area and so, I tell the stories of shell middens, live oaks, and the plantations. I am inspired by how you feel in nature and what it teaches you.” Jill said every time she escorts people into nature, it is personalized because it’s about what they see and feel in the moment.
Jill Moore’s life has been one of constant evolution, change and transformation. She was born in Seattle and migrated through five states by the time she turned 9 years old. Her family finally settled in Illinois, but it was summer visits to family in Montana that had a huge impact on her. The wilderness, beauty, and landscape sparked her interest in nature.
Jill was a special education teacher in Illinois for 20 years, and after she moved to Bluffton in 2008, she taught at Okatie Elementary School for six years. When the Lowcountry Master Naturalist training from Clemson Extension was offered as free training for teachers, Jill took advantage of the opportunity. “That training spiraled me into nature, and I knew my purpose.”
She created nature programs and an outdoor classroom for her students, some of whom lived in the Oldfield community. Eventually Jill was asked to do nature programs within Oldfield. That led her to a new career as a master naturalist at their Outfitters Center, where she converted offices into a nature center, offereing hands-on experiences with various critters like turtles, snakes, and horseshoe crabs. She also added a lending library to foster education about nature. During her tenure at Oldfield, the community became the first Audubon International sustainable private residential community in the U.S.
When the pandemic hit, Jill made a leap of faith and decided to be a naturalist for everybody, not just for Oldfield. “I took a chance and believed in what I had to offer. It was a difficult time to start a company, but it was also a time when people wanted to be in nature.” So Jill kicked off her new business, “Moore to Life.”
“Now, more than ever, people need to benefit from the outdoors. Even just the presence of wind in your face, or listening to ocean waves, have proven health benefits like lower blood pressure and relief from anxiety and stress,” Jill said. She explained that we all spend too much time on our screens, especially our children. “We have gotten so far away from the outdoors being our first choice of where we want to be. Today spending time in nature is an ‘activity’ or ‘event.’ I want to take away whatever is stopping people from enjoying nature.”
Through all of her transitions, there is one thing Jill knows for sure: There’s definitely “Moore” to life when you immerse yourself in nature!
In the yard: Jill loves all flora and fauna, and her only pet (right now) is an adorable corn snake named Cornelius.
Say Cheese: Jill is also a part-time resident of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the mother of three grown boys.
Passionate Pastimes: Jill enjoys doing anything outdoors, especially on the water. She hikes, bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, and visits state and national parks. She also tries her best at gardening.
A Redbird at Heart: Jill is a graduate of Illinois State University
Get in Nature with Jill: To learn more, visit www.Moore2LifeSC.com