Kaelen McCracken

Leveraging the power of the Backcountry, McCracken is working to make science more approachable for children and adults alike.

As a Backcountry Ranger, Kaelen McCracken works to make science more approachable for children and adults alike. Growing up on the coast was foundational to McCracken’s interest in the outdoors. Her love for the ocean taught her to care for wild spaces from a young age, inspiring her to discover what lay beyond the beach. As an environmental studies major at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), she realized the breadth of disciplines that fall under the environmental studies umbrella. McCracken participated in a variety of research programs, including a sea turtle endangerment field studies course in Costa Rica, an internship at the UCSB Biological Research Greenhouse, and a conservation-planning position for Santa Cruz Island Reserve. Exploring a wide range of topics helped her cultivate a more balanced perspective on scientific and social issues. McCracken believes that celebrating the intrinsic value of nature is the most effective way to encourage stewardship.

Throughout her undergraduate career, McCracken developed a core interest in the intersection between nature and community. Her love for language inspired a minor in English with an emphasis in creative writing, which she uses to communicate science in a fun, digestible way. Here at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, McCracken works with both the horticulture and education departments to get families excited about protecting the earth. She believes the Garden is an amazing space for the community to become more familiar with the natural wonders of California’s native habitats. The Backcountry expands the Garden’s access to a beautiful coast live oak woodland, where kids and parents can foster their appreciation for the outdoors and each other. When she’s not working, you’re likely to find McCracken surfing, hiking, enjoying live music, or spending quality time with the people she loves.

Backcountry Ranger