If Ellen Horowitz had to sum up her job titles they would include naturalist, writer and educator.
What connects those jobs is a passion to share her vast knowledge of the outdoors, whether through writing award-winning magazine articles or teaching children and adults “about the wildflowers and wildlife of the Rocky Mountains.”
Gleaning from more than 35 years as an educator, of which 13 were spent working for the National Park Service in Glacier Park, Horowitz has written her first children’s book, “What I Saw in Glacier: A Kid’s Guide to the National Park,” which recently was published with photographs by Christopher Cauble.
Horowitz hit the highlights of what children might see in the Crown of the Continent’s treasure trove of wildlife, vegetation, landmarks and destinations from mountain goats to Many Glacier Hotel. The book is packed with facts, photos and directions on where to find each topic.
The book also serves as a journal where children can check off what they see in the park and document the “where, when, how many,” along with other guiding questions.
“It’s not just a book that you look at and put down,” Horowitz said.
What proved to be the most challenging part about writing the book was getting started and then paring down the information.
“I knew I had 48 pages to tell the story,” she said.
And she knew that she had to concentrate on what people are likely to see.
“I would have loved to have a page on the pika,” Horowitz said with a chuckle, “But honestly, the chance of seeing them is pretty small,” just like the pika itself, a small mammal related to the rabbit family, according to the National Park Service.
Besides being an informative, fun read, Horowitz hopes the book will give children a focus while exploring the park.
“Many people are overwhelmed by big landscapes and they don’t know where to begin,” Horowitz said about visitors of all ages.
With more than 20 years of freelance writing, it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that she was approached to write the book by Helena-based Riverbend Publishing as the third in a “Kid’s Explorer Guide” series on America’s national parks.
“I had been interested in writing a long, long time,” Horowitz said. “The type of field work I do is a pretty short season, so writing is another outlet to educate.”
Whether serving as an adjunct professor of botany at Flathead Valley Community College or an instructor with the Glacier Institute and the Road Scholar program, Horowitz’s favorite classroom is the outdoors, and the natural world is her teaching tool.
The excitement that children and adults show when spotting a bighorn sheep for the first time, or locating the chirp of a Columbia ground squirrel “keeps me going with this kind of work,” Horowitz said about being an educator.
“There’s so much amazing stuff,” Horowtiz said.
“What I saw in Glacier: A Kid’s Guide to the National Park,” is available at local bookstores, Imagination Station, Glacier National Park gift shops and online.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.