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Filmmaker-turned social media educator Ross Reid wants you to get nerdy about BC’s forests

Reid is the creator of the popular Instagram and TikTok account Nerdy About Nature. His videos about nature on the West Coast have resonated with millions of people online

By Emily Vance
October 14, 2022
Good news
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Filmmaker-turned social media educator Ross Reid wants you to get nerdy about BC’s forests

Reid is the creator of the popular Instagram and TikTok account Nerdy About Nature. His videos about nature on the West Coast have resonated with millions of people online

By Emily Vance
Oct 14, 2022
Ross Reid started Nerdy About Nature, a social media page focused on sharing his love of plants and the natural world, in the hopes of inspiring people to get out into their own backyards. Photo: Joel Caldwell / Submitted
Ross Reid started Nerdy About Nature, a social media page focused on sharing his love of plants and the natural world, in the hopes of inspiring people to get out into their own backyards. Photo: Joel Caldwell / Submitted
Good news
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Filmmaker-turned social media educator Ross Reid wants you to get nerdy about BC’s forests

Reid is the creator of the popular Instagram and TikTok account Nerdy About Nature. His videos about nature on the West Coast have resonated with millions of people online

By Emily Vance
October 14, 2022
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Filmmaker-turned social media educator Ross Reid wants you to get nerdy about BC’s forests
Ross Reid started Nerdy About Nature, a social media page focused on sharing his love of plants and the natural world, in the hopes of inspiring people to get out into their own backyards. Photo: Joel Caldwell / Submitted

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Ross Reid, better known as the face of Nerdy About Nature, talks fast because he has a lot to say about the importance of learning about, and connecting to, the natural world.

“The way I see it, the more people know and understand about the world around us, the more fun they’re going to have when they are out enjoying it, so that they too can fall in love with it, so that we can all work together to create a better world for future generations,” Reid said.

The pace—and subject matter—is typical for Reid. Scrolling through the moustached, Patagonia-clad outdoorsman’s Instagram page, each video arrives on your screen with the narration already in full swing, as Reid describes complex natural phenomena and details the workings of the natural world at breakneck speed.

His unique brand of grassroots nature education seems to be resonating: the filmmaker-turned-social media educator has amassed 130K followers on Instagram since launching the page as a passion project in late 2019. He also posts his content on TikTok, where his follower count totals just over 170K. Collectively, his videos have garnered 1.4 million likes on TikTok alone.

His videos span a wide range of topics specific to BC’s coastal ecosystems, paying particular attention to the role of old-growth forests, the importance of salmon in the coastal ecosystem, plant identification, biodiversity, and the interconnected nature of our natural world. From fun and playful videos like “How to identify a mountain hemlock when out for a rip,” to direct, head-on calls for government accountability on deforestation and climate change, his videos retain a sense of levity while refusing to shy away from the heavy stuff.

Despite Reid’s acute understanding and direct confrontation of the drastic and dire climate emergency that humanity finds itself in, his videos still manage to instil hope, finding inspiration from the way that the rhizomes of salal bushes are able to grow through the cracks of asphalt. In another video about mental health, he relates the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides to our natural fluctuations in mood, encouraging people who may be struggling with depression to wait for better days.

“If you just remember that the tide will eventually rise again, you can stick it out. Just breathe, be patient, and get familiar with where you are in that cycle,” Reid said.

He’s trying, he says, “to get people to reframe the way that we've built nature into our Western society here—our capitalist, colonial mindset here—to realize that we're part of [nature], and that it's not separate from us,” Reid said.

Reid splits his time between Ucluelet and Squamish. He works as a documentary filmmaker in the outdoor and action sports industry, and his interest in the natural world began through exposure: an avid all-around outdoor enthusiast who can often be found surfing, ski touring, and hiking, he would often find things in nature that made him curious. He minored in biology at Montana State University, but initially chose to pursue documentary filmmaking. The information presented in his videos comes from a variety of sources: science journals, articles, textbooks, and government documents.

“I would always find myself in a new environment or new place, different times of the year, noticing things, so then I would go home and Google it or research it,” Reid said.

As Reid tells it, he used to pester his friends with endless facts from his research while out on adventures together. They suggested he find another audience—so he did—and Nerdy About Nature was born. The page started as a joke, and then quickly began to resonate.

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Since then, he’s launched a podcast, started a Patreon (a membership platform where creators can collect monthly donations for their work), and began to take on partnerships. Now he’s collaborating with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and is an ambassador with Protect Our Winters.

Not everyone wans to hear what he has to say about nature—particularly when it comes to controversial subjects like climate change and old-growth logging. Reid said he ignores the people who are outright trolls, but spends time trying to connect to people with varying viewpoints in the comment section, over private messages, saying he’ll sometimes even go as far as to meet up with someone in person if they live nearby.

“That's been honestly the most positive thing for me—is having conversations with people who, by the standard definition, I shouldn't get along with or shouldn't agree with, and finding common ground, and finding ways to recognize each other's values,” Reid said.

Though his reach continues to grow, Reid said he’s choosy about the type of partnerships he takes on. His preference is that the project is community-led and community-funded, hence the Patreon account. He’s not as interested in making money on social media by doing things “the usual way,” getting paid through affiliate marketing and brand sponsorships.

“I will only take projects with brands or companies that I support or can see doing good things,” Reid said. “It feels really good to be creating something new, and focusing on trying to build more of a community out of it.”

That community-led, grassroots, DIY ethos finds a direct parallel in Reid’s beliefs about how to address the climate crisis. He’s hopeful that he can inspire people to connect with and learn about their place in the natural world, and then take steps to protect it. He’s also critical of the ways in which our current economic and social structure encourages people to constantly consume new products, and be focused on their own self-interest at the expense of the environment.

“I think it's really important that we recognize the gravity of the situation we're facing, and then approach it realistically, and then figure out ways that we can work together and create a better world,” Reid said.

He acknowledges that it’s not always an easy journey. Studies show that climate anxiety is causing distress and affecting a majority of young people. Reid said that self-care has been an important part of his own ability to continue sharing his knowledge with the world.

“The only thing that's going to create [change] are those moments where you're feeling positive, and where you're feeling like you're making change, even if it's a little change,” Reid said. 

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