Parenting isn’t easy. There’s no manual. No procedural flow charts to follow. But for Jeremy and Amanda Tubbs, parenting means sharing their love of the natural world with their two sons Tucker and Asher. The Tubbs family has made nature a pillar in their lives at work and at home.
Connecting Through Their Love of Nature
While living in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 2003, Jeremy and Amanda met through mutual friends. Amanda was studying Organismic Biology at Oklahoma State University, while Jeremy was working fulltime. Amanda’s love of biology and Jeremy’s passion for wildlife connected them instantly.
“We hit it off! Amanda was extremely funny,” says Jeremy. “We went hiking and took camping trips when we first met. We also shared the same family values and now we’ve been together 16 years and married for 11.”
With their relationship going strong, they relocated to Tahlequah to attend Northeastern State University, both graduating with degrees in biology. At that time, Jeremy began his career at The Nature Conservancy.
Jeremy has worked at The Nature Conservancy’s J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve near Tahlequah for 14 years and serves as the current Preserve Director.
“I wanted a career where I could actually be in nature and work with wildlife,” says Jeremy. “I’ve always wanted my children to enjoy the outdoors. Doing this as a career is something I’ve wanted to include them in as well.”
Amanda is the Operations Program Specialist and has been in that role for four years at the Tulsa office.
“By the time I started working for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) I already had a very good knowledge of the organization because Jeremy had worked here for 10 years prior to me starting my career,” says Amanda. “I was very familiar through volunteering, going to events, knowing the mission, meeting the people, so I was interested in the overall objective of TNC. It was a bonus that I could get a career here myself and help drive that mission.”
In addition to their personal interests, university degrees and chosen careers they both grew up in small Oklahoma towns where fishing, hunting and being outside was a huge part of their childhood. Each knew they wanted their children to grow up with those experiences too.
Conservation has always been very important in my life, but having children has heightened that.
Seeing Nature Through a Child's Eyes
In 2016, Jeremy and Amanda’s perspective of nature changed unexpectedly after their first child Tucker was born. He is now three years old and has a younger brother, Asher, who is 4 months old.
“Conservation has always been very important in my life but having children has heightened that,” says Amanda. “Not only do you look at your future, but your children’s future and preserving that for them and their children.”
When you grow up fishing, camping and hiking with your family, it isn’t a stretch to imagine passing on those experiences to your kids. The challenge is incorporating these moments in our rapidly changing, growing and tech-centered culture.
“Having children and being in the outdoors enhances your perspective of the outdoors,” says Jeremy. “You slow down and look at the small things—the things that you normally take for granted because it’s the first time they’re discovering that flower or the texture of bark on a tree. To watch your child develop and discover those things is very rewarding.”
Having children and being in the outdoors enhances your perspective of the outdoors. You slow down and look at the small things.
Foraging Wild Food with Mom
For Amanda, nature isn’t only a place to play with her kids, but it is also a food source.
“When it’s blackberry season, we go out and forage and get a bowl of blackberries for breakfast,” says Amanda. “I love foraging! You name it—mushrooms, wild onions, blackberries—I love to cook and bake and to forage for the food makes it that much better.”
Exploring natural spaces with a chef’s eye brings an entirely different perspective.
“Tucker is so much more engaged when he’s outside,” says Amanda. “Watching him discover all these things outside makes us take time and look at the details more so than we ever did before because we’re slowing down and getting on their level. He’s done that since he was nine months old—observing every little thing and feeling it, making all those senses aware of what’s going on.”
Sparking Curiosity Outside with Dad
For Jeremy, playing outside sparks imagination for him and his sons.
“Being out in nature is like a huge playground,” says Jeremy. “They are constantly seeing and investigating new things, which is a great educational classroom for them to discover what’s around us.”
They limit screen time for Tucker and Asher, which allows the them to create meaningful memories together.
“Sometimes we will see a deer or a bobcat on the property and that is super cool for Tucker. But for me as a parent, it is very rewarding to share those discoveries with them,” says Jeremy.
The natural world runs through every aspect of our lives—it impacts our personal interests, our hobbies, our career paths, and even our families. Parenting isn’t easy, but for the Tubbs family, being outside deepens their relationship with each other, as well as the natural world they call home.
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