Born and raised in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country in rural Lancaster County, Don Miller had a childhood filled with ample opportunities to freely roam far and wide in the fields, woods, meadows, wetlands and stream courses of southeastern Pennsylvania. This was the landscape that shaped his interests in the natural world that surrounds us, the vibrant living green, blue and brown landscapes of fields, forests, and streams that shape all our daily lives. Growing up on a small family farm, Don also had many other direct connections to landscapes both wild and managed that come from a life engaged in making a living from coaxing plants/food directly from the earth. Vacations from the farm which were few and anxiously anticipated, most often involved a few days away camping, hiking, fishing and hunting in some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful wild places. After high school, Don attended East Stroudsburg University where he graduated with multiple majors including Biology, Environmental Studies and Visual Arts including photography and filmmaking.
Following undergraduate school, Don worked for three years as a biological field researcher for the US Forest Service conducting Gypsy Moth assessment and management at the height of the first wave of infestation throughout Carbon, Monroe, Northampton, Pike and Wayne counties. The famed Gifford Pinchot Estate’s grounds and farmhouse were both a home away from home and a research headquarters while he explored some of the Poconos’ wildest environs studying and documenting the effects of invasive organisms on natural landscapes.
With this field research experience and a life long desire to share the natural world with others, Don became a naturalist/conservation educator with the Monroe County Conservation District where he went on to become the head naturalist and director of the Meesing Nature Center (now the Monroe County/Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center). Increased teaching interests led him to East Stroudsburg University graduate school and a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. This led to a 25-year public school teaching career that included teaching Kindergarten, Grade 4, and Grade 6 in Stroudsburg Area School District, a PA State Technology Certification from Marywood University and Computer Technology Instruction in the Elementary Grades K-5 in Pocono Mountain School District, until his retirement in 2011. While teaching and continuing today, Don has volunteered tirelessly to promote environmental education, natural resource awareness and land conservation in the Poconos.
He has been involved with many community conservation efforts including being a founding member and/or longtime board member and volunteer of Pocono Audubon Chapter, Pocono Forestry Association, TNC’s Tannersville Cranberry Bog Preserve Committee, Pocono Heritage Land Trust, Brodhead Watershed Association, Delaware Watershed Education Consortium, Global Rivers Environmental Education Network, Stroud Region Open Space and Recreation Commission Greenway Committee, Paradise Township Environmental Advisory Committee, and PA DCNR Recreation Advisory Council. For the last 15 years, he has also been an active board member of County Commissioner appointed Monroe County Open Space Advisory Board, which has guided Monroe County’s initial $25 million Open Space Program including matched state, federal and private monies to become an $80 million open space fund that has helped acquire and protect over 2000 acres of natural areas and passive recreation areas and over 5000 acres of agricultural easement protected farmland in Monroe County.
From a young age to today, more than six decades later, Don continues to be engaged in the art of perambulating (wondering and looking) at natural landscapes with a quiet eye for the purpose of observing and learning about the world around us and sharing its beauty and secrets with others.