Meet OWAA member Karuna Eberl

Photo of Karuna with mountains in the background

Karuna Eberl writes about conservation, nature, history and travel from the high country of Colorado, or wherever else her and her husband, Steve, are living in their van. Some of her regular outlets include National Parks magazine, the National Wildlife Refuges and Family Handyman, where she also writes a column about women in the trades. She’s produced and directed a number of independent films and documentaries, co-authored an award-winning guidebook to the Florida Keys with Steve, and writes the blog Nature Rising

What are your areas of Outdoor Communication? 

I write primarily about nature, conservation and travel, and do some photography to accompany articles. I’m starting to experiment with social media-type video production as well, which fits into my background of producing documentary and feature films. 

What drew you to the field?

There’s never been any separation between the outdoors and the rest of life. My dad is a mountaineer-geologist, and we’d spend summers living in a tent while he taught field camp. My mom is an editor and gardener, who encouraged me to join the school paper when I was in third grade. When I was an angsty teenager I swore I didn’t want to follow in my parent’s footsteps, but then I graduated from the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in journalism and a minor in geology. I guess outdoor communication was inevitable. 

What enticed you to join OWAA?

I was working as a copy editor for an ill-fated start-up sports dot com in the early 2000s. One of the editors there told me joining OWAA was a vital career move. She was correct, but it’s only recently that I’ve made a point to be more heavily involved. Better late than never.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Walking, and sometimes just sitting around in the wilderness. I know that doesn’t sound very sexy. I also love to mountain bike and go camping, and I used to be a completely rabid snowboarder, skier and backpacker. But most of all I love the connection that walking brings. There’s so much time to notice details: morphing clouds, a tangled tree root covered in moss, the smell of plants blooming by a mountain creek. My appreciation started when my dad invited me to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The trail became infused into my psyche. I remembered every step, every moment. It’s a rare gift to be able to be that present once in a while, and walking does that for me.

What are you currently working on?

I just finished a piece for Atlas Obscura on Key Largo woodrats. They’re fascinating ecosystem engineers, and good ambassadors for rodents. I also write a lot for Family Handyman. The editors have been wonderful with giving me a lot of leeway to cover environmental topics. My husband, Steve, and I also just finished up a how-to article/video for them building a hydroponic garden, which was fun. On a more exploratory side, I’m diving into a novel series, which I have high hopes for, but which is going slower than I’d like since I have to fit it in around paying gigs as well as helping Steve with our house project (we bought an abandoned house in a ghost town in rural Colorado, and have been bringing it back to life).  

What have you gained from the organization?

Writing gigs, for sure. Getting to know other outdoor writers is also rewarding. And OWAA’s professional development webinars have been really helpful. I’m thrilled to see OWAA becoming more relevant in my areas of interest, like environmental reporting and diversity. 

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking of joining OWAA?

Do it. And really get involved. Don’t be a bystander like I was for far too long. 

About OWAA

OWAA provides resources to help our members flourish as outdoor communicators and establish themselves as industry leaders. We create opportunities to make valuable industry and personal connections, sharpen professional skills, showcase work and gain access to in-demand educational resources and mentorship opportunities.

Learn more about OWAA today and see what OWAA membership level is right for you!

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