Kim and Gayla Medley: Two generations with SCA

Kim and Gayla Medley at Olympic National Park

“My mom stimulated our love of nature,” says Kim Medley, a professor of geography at Miami University of Ohio. “I have so many memories of amazing family camping trips and how happy we were on them.”

So it wasn’t much of a surprise in 1977 when Kim, then a college sophomore, took an SCA internship as a backcountry ranger at Olympic National Park.  “The first time in I thought I was going to die!  Ten days of supplies – it was a haul,” she recalls.

She stuck with it, though, and when Kim returned home, her mother, Gayla, noticed something was different.  Very different.

“Before SCA,” Kim concedes, “I was a little wild and crazy. My mom was taken because I’d become so absorbed in learning.  I spent hours in the library and outdoors.  SCA gave me the direction I needed.  That internship helped me find what I wanted to do academically.”

Kim earned a degree in conservation at Kent State and then enjoyed a series of seasonal positions at national parks before obtaining her Master’s in Geography and a Ph.D. in Botany from Michigan State, where she launched her academic career. “My mom’s love of nature, all those camping trips, and SCA combined to inspire me professionally,” Kim says.

Recently, Gayla Medley passed away and left a large portion of her estate to SCA. “Her gift was made in memory of my brother, Jere, who left us far too soon, and perhaps it was also as a tribute to what her daughter had become.”

Today, Kim regularly points her students in the direction of SCA. “I’m always looking for that spark, the love of nature,” she explains. “I am SCA’s absolute biggest advocate!”

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