In the spring and summertime as a child, I would run through open fields, climb trees, make mud
pies, swing on rope swings, catch fireflies in a jar, or wade and catch pollywogs in streams. In the
fall, I would run and jump in the pile of leaves that had just been raked, pick brilliantly colored
leaves to make pictures with, and pick crisp juicy apples from our trees. In the wintertime, I would
slide my sled down the snowy hillside in front of our house, make silly looking snow people or ice
skate on frozen ponds. I lived in nature. I grew up with nature. I played outside and grew up loving
and respecting the world in which I lived. Nowadays however, many children and adults never have
these kind of experiences or don’t choose to interact with nature and their world. And…what they
don’t know or experience, they don’t care about.
My name is Phyllis Karow-Trella and I am an artist, author, and illustrator. I have been
walking my journey on Mother Earth for over 83 years. I was a wife to my late husband Dr. John
Trella, D.C., for 50 years, and I am a mother of four children, grandmother to seventeen, great-
grandmother to eleven, and I was a foster parent to six girls. For over forty years I worked with
children’s groups in schools, libraries, and communities. I was also involved with animal rescue
work. I have written, illustrated and published numerous children’s books and my artwork is known
and respected in art communities.
With children as my primary focus, I studied human potential and spirituality for most of my adult life.
My goal was to discover how I could communicate with, and help improve the lives of children. My
studies included youth education, parenting, prevention of substance abuse, ecopsychology,
holistic healing, and writing. My artistic schooling was through private instruction and self-
development. In the mid-1990s my focus began to include what was happening to our earth, the
environment, and the creatures we share this planet with. I soon began to realize that children
were losing their connection to their Earth Mother and to Nature. I did research through books,
seminars, and conferences, to see what I might be able to do to help.
In 1998 my husband and I moved to the White Mountains of Northeastern Arizona, and
I found myself surrounded by forests and "all of our relations" – the four legged, the two legged,
the winged ones, the finned ones, the creepy crawlers, rocks, and trees. And, as though it was part
of some Divine plan, I also became acquainted with some very special Native Americans from the
Navajo, the Lakota, the Apache and various other nations. They shared with me some of their
teachings and beliefs that had been passed down to them from their Ancestors. My heart filled with
the recognition of these truths and my whole world opened up to a new dimension for me. My life,
my relationship with the incredible world that I am a part of, my artwork, and my writing changed.
From then on my passion became to help others…especially children, discover the wonders of our
Earth Mother, learn of the interconnectedness of all of life, as well as each other. This is how and
where I was inspired to write my latest book ALL Our Relations.
Now at 83 years YOUNG, I care for my beloved pets – two dogs, two cats, and the fish in the outside
pond (if there are any left – they were visited by a great blue heron). The five acres where we live is
backed up to a National Forest and my land is now a Certified National Wildlife Habitat. The critters
and birds that I live with here require feeding and fresh water daily, and I monitor their activities
regularly. I am kept very busy caring for them along with my artwork and writing, reading to children
at the library, participating in Yoga classes when I can, walking with my dogs around the property,
and MAKING A DIFFERENCE wherever, however, and whenever I can.
"...the child in nature is an endangered species, and the health of children and the health of the Earth
are inseparable. Developers and environmentalists, corporate CEOs and college professors, rock star
and ranchers, may not agree on little else but they agree on this: NO ONE among us wants to be a
member of the LAST generation to pass on to our children the joy of playing outside in nature."
In 2005, Richard Louv introduced the term "nature deficit disorder" in his book Last Child In the Woods.
This is not a medical diagnosis but a way to describe the growing gap between kids and nature and the
consequences and health care professionals are taking note.
In 2008, University of Michigan researchers demonstrated that after just an hour interacting with
nature, memory performance and attention spans improved 20 percent. In 2012, researchers at the
University of Kansas reported a 50 percent boost in creativity for people who were steeped in nature for
a few days.
In 2010, a pilot program in Portland, Oregon, began pairing physicians with park professionals, who
helped children and their families get their green exercise or…their dose of "vitamin N."
Richard Louv, author of best selling book LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS
"We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We
must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals,
fish and trees." Owaisinas (Heriditary Chief, Edward Moody) Nuxalk Nation