“At that moment, I felt like God touched me in a really sweet way. And so I remember that day.”
Brittany Michalski, a conservation ecologist, shares her fondest memory of being outside in God’s magnificent creation. It was an early evening on the country land in Wisconsin where she grew up. She ran to her family’s barn and took a seat just in time to watch the sun set. At that moment a Black-capped Chickadee landed on her. A moment she recalls feeling God’s closeness.
From a very young age, Brittany can remember having a love for the great outdoors. Growing up in the small rural town of Pardeeville, Wisconsin much of her time was spent outside with friends and family. Her grandparents owned a cottage which sat on the river that ran through Pardeeville.
“My family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, together we would spend our summers out on the river swimming and fishing and that’s where I learned really important lessons about respecting the power of nature, like the power of a river, for example.
After leaving her hometown, Brittany attended college at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she studied Wildlife Ecology. It was during her Sophomore year that she discovered her calling for environmental stewardship.
“I had declared my major, and was starting to take really, really interesting classes, learning about different wildlife species, but also a lot of the environmental problems going on around the globe.” she said.
At the same time, Brittany was also becoming heavily involved with her faith. She was a part of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at her school. This was in the midst of a huge conference called Urbana held in St Louis, MO. She decided with a group of her friends to attend the conference. They headed to the arena where 18,000 people gathered.
“And there’s a band playing worship songs, and I felt a very strong sense that God was calling me to care for His creation. And I didn’t really know what that meant. Initially, my response was responding yes to God. In this way, it felt very much like a calling.”
She remembered feeling unsure about what exactly God was calling her to do. But she knew she would do whatever it was.
Brittany recalls that she didn’t know any other Christians who were interested in caring for the environment. So, she began to read more about earth keeping. Brittany read countless books. She met people in the faith community that held similar beliefs as her. And from there she built herself a network full of people, stewards of His creation.
After graduating with her Bachelors of Science, Brittany went on to pursue her career and receive her Masters of Environmental Conservation.
“I wanted to have a career where I could put on some hiking boots and a flannel shirt and then go out and do stuff.”
There were times that were harder than others. During those times she turned to various books, her church, and the Lord for guidance.
The church in Madison, Wisconsin where Brittany attended was quite large. Every three years they hold a science and faith symposium. The church, specifically at the symposium, was a place where she felt comfortable listening, learning, and sharing.
Brittany currently works at USA A Rocha as a Conservation Ecologist with a focus on the Marine Conservation and Love Your Place programs. A Rocha USA is a national community of Christians working in biodiversity conservation to protect and restore vulnerable habitats, species, and communities.
Along with A Rocha USA, Brittany leads Climate Stewards USA. She works closely with the United Kingdom team as the United States Project Coordinator. Climate Stewards work closely helping people to learn, pray, and take action for creation care.
When asked what is one thing that is giving her hope these days, Brittany’s response was a project that she is currently working on with USA A Rocha and Climate Stewards USA.
“We have a new tool called 360 carbon, which is a carbon footprint calculator for churches, but also for small businesses and nonprofits,” she continues “It’s been so incredible to be able to talk with folks involved at their churches all over the country. Right now, I’ve been talking with churches, mainly in Wisconsin, and then a few in Georgia as well. And you know, just the response, there has been really encouraging that church communities want to do something about climate change, and many of them are already doing so much. So it’s been really inspiring to me.”
When not working, Brittany can be found in her garden. She explained that gardening is a time where she’s able to feel connected to God, it is a time where she can experience scripture. Anything from apple trees, plums, cherries, to tomatoes, and more, Brittany tends to her plants.
“I love being out in the vegetable garden and feeling like I’m kind of witnessing little miracles happening.”
For Brittany, her faith calls for a life of discipleship. A life of service. A life lived fully in the pursuit of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Love tilled in deep roots planted in the soil, joy experienced in following her heart, peace in realizing her knowledge of science points directly to her Creator, faithfulness in walking the path less traveled and goodness in caring for others by caring for Creation. Heeding the call to care for creation, is also practicing People Care, for we know that those with the least among us are also the most impacted by environmental changes. Creation care also means fair share for all of God’s people.
“We are called to put others before ourselves, Christ followers, and in that model everybody gets cared for.”