Gary W. Sharlow
With a dedication to the natural world and to contemplative practice in nature, Gary has begun to unite his passions through his work with Awake in the Wild. Gary serves as our managing director and leads programs as a trained guide. He brings over 20 years of experience in the fields of informal learning, conservation messaging, program management, and mindfulness practice to his guidance for those who are dedicated to deepening their connection to themselves and the natural world.
While serving as a manager in the education division at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco, Gary created a number of successful programs focused on exploring people’s passion for the natural world. His conservation photography program led to a number of successful community oriented programs to include an annual international nature photography competition that is recognized as one of the most prestigious competitions of any genre anywhere in the world. This project also seeded a popular online magazine that features the work of these photographers and their subjects while also raising awareness to the research conducted by the Academy’s robust research division. He also piloted a community based program that led to the creation of a robust citizen science program based in data collection through photography. This project led the Academy to purchase iNaturalist, a very popular photography based citizen science app that provides research quality data to scientists and governments around the world.
Gary also managed an NPR series, called Conversation on Science, which was produced in partnership with City Arts and Lectures airing nationwide to 100s of thousands of listeners which featured lively conversations about cutting edge sustainability science from some of the brightest minds around the world. Gary also played a central role in designing and managing a weekly museum after hours program called NightLife that continues to draw over 2500 people to the museum each week to explore themes about science and sustainability on a variety of topics.
As an Awake in the Wild teacher, Gary combines his passion for giving a voice to the natural world through visual storytelling with his passion for contemplative practice in nature. He has worked as a professional photographer and taught photography since 2004. His programs and trips combine a Love-Not-Loss approach to exploring and understanding the natural world through a child like sense of awe and wonder while also looking at the power of storytelling through digital photography and filmography. Gary combines this artistic exploration of the natural world with a deep contemplative practice grounded in the four foundations of mindfulness which he has gained from both his personal meditation practice as well through years of working with and mentoring dharma teachers around the country. Many of his programs and trips are grounded in a – nature meets art, meets meditation, meets conservation – framework. Join him out on the trails to learn more about how you can combine your passion for mindfulness and photography to give voice to the natural world. Gary splits his time between San Francisco, CA and northern New Mexico where he also serves as a manager at a deep forest meditation center grounded in Theravada Buddhism for part of the year.