Elena and Freddie Explore

Elena’s love for nature is no accident. Since she was just a gleam in her mother’s eye, Elena has been exposed to the wonder and magic of nature. Elena’s parents have made getting outdoors—rain, shine, and snow—a priority. As a result, Elena—a curious, bright and engaged preteen—finds an abundance of joy and wonder in nature.

For half her life, Elena has explored the trails of Bald Hill Farm with her beloved fur-companion, Freddie. Freddie—named after Freddie Mercury—is a soft, brown, adorable mini-Aussie who greets every opportunity to get outside as if he’s won the lottery. “He’s playful and curious. Sometimes my parents call me Freddie and him Elena,” she giggles.

Elena’s family moved to Corvallis from Washington state in 2012 and have actively explored all parts of Oregon. As a result, Elena has many nature favorites: from snowshoeing in the winter, the magical quarry near her house in northwest Corvallis, wading in cool waters on hot days with Freddie, camping with her neighbor Elliot (who’s dad is a great camp cook), to strolls around Bald Hill Farm whenever she gets the chance.

Her eyes widen, her face brightens and she leans in to answer the question about why she loves nature. “It is nice being out of the house, getting fresh air and exploring,” said Elena.

One of our favorite photos at Greenbelt was taken in 2013, of Elena and Freddie, happily running down a path at Bald Hill. Just look at them below, and try not to have a smile on your face! We decided to catch up with Elena and Freddie five years later … and although both have grown a few inches, not much else has changed … same delightful glee of being outdoors, together.

Elena and Freddie at Bald Hill in 2013 (left) and 2019 (right)

Elena’s mom, Jennifer, is a wildlife biologist and has spent a lot of time outdoors. Jennifer credits her parents for cultivating her love of nature, “Even though we lived in a city, we did a lot of camping and sailing. They encouraged me to explore.”

One of Jennifer’s favorite spots to run in Corvallis is on Mulkey Ridge and Fitton Green. “I love the variety of habitat all through there. You get riparian forest, meadow, and oaks … just such a variety,” said Jennifer.

As for passing down an appreciation of nature to the next generation, Jennifer poignantly shared her hopes for Elena, “I want her to continue to enjoy being outside, to have a curiosity about the world around her.” Turning to Elena, “I hope you don’t ever lose that—it’s pretty special,” said Jennifer.