Atiya Wells is a Pediatric Nurse and nature educator in Baltimore City. Her love for nature began after college, during a spontaneous hike with her husband in Western Maryland. As a registered nurse caring for children unable to go outside, she was determined to ensure her own children spent time outdoors as much as possible. She has since dedicated her free time to fostering nature connection in urban environments and creating equitable access to nature. She is the founder of Backyard Basecamp, Inc. a non-profit organization with a mission to (re)connect Black, Indigenous, and People of color to urban ecology. Their primary project is BLISS Meadows, an innovative community greening initiative, which weaves together 10 acres of public and private land to create equitable access to green space in her neighborhood and a space to facilitate culturally relevant environmental education. More information about the work of Backyard Basecamp, Inc. by visiting their website www.BackyardBasecamp.org

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?

Pro-pun

3 Do you have any pets?

A one year old Beagle-mix named Luna

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

In my “office”, I have a collection of skulls, insects, snake skins, etc. Mostly things I find while I’m out hiking.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Sweet

7 Do you speak any other languages?

I grew up Muslim, and went to an Islamic middle-school. I can speak and read a little Arabic. I can also understand Spanish better than I can speak it.

8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

I enjoy music. I think I’d want to be the person who picks out songs for certain movie scenes or TV shows.

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

I really LOVED organic chemistry in high school. But I’m not sure that I could let environmental ed go. Maybe if there’s a field where I can blend the two.

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

Tahiti

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?

The ability to clone and de-clone (is that a word?) myself. I like to do so many things, but often feel like there is not enough time. If I could clone myself to follow my interest and then come back to the main Me with the experience and knowledge. That would just be amazing! My husband says Naruto calls these Shadow Clones.

12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

Yes! I love to read science fiction. There is a new series out The Legacy of Orisha Trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi. The first is “Children of Blood and Bone” it is such a good story.

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

I want to pack a lunch and enjoy a solo day-hike.

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

Love, music, writing materials

15 What beverage gives you life?

High quality H20, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, and Raspberry or Peach Tea from WaWa.

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

So many to choose from! When I was in elementary school, my father was working to earn his Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from NJIT. We’d often read and discuss the books that he was assigned in his classes together. . Imagine a 9 year old reading the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and Homer. I remember really liking Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. I think, at that age, I gathered that I’d never want to do something that I’d regret so fully as the character in the story.

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a Nurse. My mother passed away when I was young, and she was wanting to further her career and be a Nurse. I wanted to finish what she’d started.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

My family. For my children, Kori (7yo) and Kai (3yo), I want to embody that you can do and be anything that you put your mind to.

19 What got you excited in science?

My father. I was raised by a single father, and he always enrolled me in “Women in STEM” programs at local colleges throughout my life. I recall this one program where every week we learned about a different science. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge and learned about suspension bridges, then we had to go build our own out of certain materials. Another week, we had to design and build a robot to clean up oil spills. It was so much fun!

20 What excites you about science now?

I like that there are so many things to do in the sciences. I especially love working with kids and allowing them to be creative in the field. There is a certain type of freedom and autonomy that you have in science that you can’t really get in other fields.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Eating cookie dough

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’m a pretty good creative writer.

23 What is your favorite game?

Wildcraft! It’s a board game we play with our kids where you essentially are hiking up a mountain to collect berries so your Grandmother can bake you a pie. Along the way, you suffer from different ailments, and you have to use your knowledge of plants to heal yourself.

24 What is the last book you read?

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi.

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

Take off your shoes BEFORE you hug a tree

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

Skydive

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Call your father!

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Being out in nature.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Avatar: The Last Airbender (the cartoon, not that disgrace of a movie that we all try to forget about)

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

I’m not really a bag carrying person. But a friend’s son was wanting to hatch Praying Mantis eggs for his birthday, so I hunted a few to give him. I thought I’d given them all of the sacs, but apparently I left one behind.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Red Fox

32 What is your favorite book?

That’s a hard one. I loved the Joe Dillard series by Scott Pratt.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Mac and Cheese

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

My Birthday! 3.14/Pi Day/ I’m nAlso, Einstein’s Bday!

35 What is your favorite plant?

Lemon Balm

36 What is your favorite science fact?

The eyes of an owl are fixed in their sockets.

37 What is your favorite season?

Spring

38 What is your favorite smell?

Vanilla

39 What is your favorite sound?

The song of a Wood Thrush

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My hair

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?

Ikigai (Japanese)

42 What is your proudest moment?

Watching my kids become increasingly comfortable in nature.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

White Oak

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

Baltimore is Birdland

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

All parts of the dandelion are edible.

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?

Baiyinah Abdullah Twitter- @MsAbdullahbio