ABOUT

Kathryn Aalto is a writer, historian, teacher, and designer focused on the natural world.

For the past twenty-five years, her creative practice has fused nature and culture: teaching the literature of nature and place; designing artful, edible, and sustainable gardens; and writing about the natural world. She travels widely as a keynote speaker throughout North America and Britain.

“In writing, speaking, and design,” Kathryn says, “There are rich opportunities to create compelling narratives — one with words, the other with plants.” Kathryn is the author of three books including The New York Times bestseller, The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood (2015) and Nature and Human Intervention (2011). Her third book is Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Women Who Shape How We See the Natural World (Timber Press, June 2020). Her essays have appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, Outside, Sierra, Buzzfeed, Resurgence and the Ecologist, and more. She is currently working on her fourth book.

Kathryn is a judge with the Nature Chronicles Prize in Britain and co-founder of The Rural Writing Institute with James Rebanks in the Lake District. She is also a member of Association for Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE). She is a dedicated mentor to emerging writers of narrative nonfiction and lectures in garden media communications. She has a Masters degrees in both Garden History and Creative Nonfiction and a Bachelors in English from Berkeley. She is a graduate of the London College of Garden Design.

As a volunteer Trustee for The Ashdown Forest Foundation, she donates 5% of all proceeds from her writing courses to the Conservators of Ashdown Forest.  Learn more here: Fundraising (ashdownforest.org)

Teaching EXPERIENCE

Kathryn is a passionate practitioner and educator of narrative nonfiction. For more than twenty-five years, she has taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University. She has a global mentoring practice, thriving online writing courses, and leads in-person writing and design courses throughout the United States.

teaching PHILOSOPHY

Kathryn’s teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. At its core, she believe teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are emerging writers or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She creates a supportive learning environment that fosters creative expression, critical thinking, and individual artistic growth.

TESTIMONIALS

Kathryn Aalto is a gift. Her mentoring is insightful, collaborative, and inspiring. Kathryn has helped shape my essay for submission and, most importantly, coached me to a deeper appreciation for my own intuition and skill as a writer.
Kris H-S., Ithaca, New York

I have been making my living with journalistic texts for four years now. Tied to my desk due to the pandemic I decided it was time to take my writing to another level and enrolled in The Art of Narrative Nonfiction. Being skeptical of virtual courses at first, I was immediately drawn into the group by her professional and yet entertaining moderation of the weekly online gatherings. With an attractive mix of lecture, discussion, workshop and personal tutoring she enabled us to not only profit from her vast experience as a writer but also to open up our pieces to our peers from various cultural backgrounds. I’ll definitely be back for more.
Johannes A., food journalist, Cologne, Germany

I tend to underachieve in courses where I feel the instructor is simply reading what’s on a slide or handout, obviously not engaged with the material or the students. But you’re different. You challenge students to perform at their very best. You care. You want us to break free of our box, not adhere to some minimum standard, and I greatly appreciate that. You are a professor. It’s remarkable. I have told every student I know to enroll in any class you teach, and I stand behind those words. As long as there are teachers out there in the world such as yourself, the quality of education received is of great value, importance, and overall high quality and standards. You raise the bar, Professor Aalto.
Craig H, student, Everett Community College

Kathryn Aalto is an exceptional teacher. As a best-selling author, she knows the publishing industry first-hand. And she is highly adept at refining one’s technical skills without stifling a writer’s voice. I love the combination of rigor and nurturing she provides. Without her mentoring, I would still be stumbling in the dark along my path to publication. Her guidance, support and knowledge are game changers. I cannot recommend her enough!
Lise P., writer, psychotherapist, and actor, Los Angeles, California

Kathryn was a fabulous mentor at a time when I needed it the most. I was working on the manuscript of my first nonfiction book, and Kathryn had recently finished Writing Wild, which has a similar structure to mine. She provided wonderful advice about how to balance different chapters, how to better tell a story, and always reminded me to be specific rather than vague. Kathryn gave me courage to pursue interviews with higher profile people than I would have otherwise approached, and boosted my confidence as a writer. Our weekly call gave me goals, a schedule, and kept me accountable in my writing process. Because of Kathryn, I had a clearer sense of what makes a full-length nonfiction book work and how to get there. Working with her while I was in the final stages of my manuscript dramatically improved my final product and gave me skills that I will carry with me for my writing career.
McKenzie L., California, writer and graphic designer, Writer-to-Writer

Kathryn is an exceptional teacher. We’d start each class with a short lecture about the craft of writing, and then we’d apply what we learnt through work-shopping and readings. I think that’s the best thing about Kathryn’s classes: that we are taught the skills we need to continue learning for ourselves. At the end of the six weeks, I wasn’t left high and dry, scratching my head wondering what to do next. Through the online classes, I interacted with people from all over the world. And Kathryn has a gift for holding the space, so I felt safe sharing my work and opening myself up for critique. Learning from Kathryn is a fantastic experience, which is why I keep signing up for more!”
Marissa L., geologist, Austria

The Writer-to-Writer Mentorship Program with Kathryn Aalto, sponsored by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, was a tremendous boost to my career as a creative writer. Judging the success of our relationship is easy: less than a year after we started, I have had five of the six essays she critiqued accepted for publication. Kathryn did more than just review and suggest, she recommended books and articles I should read, authors I should follow, conferences and short courses I should attend. She emphasized the importance of developing an online presence. She provided a detailed description of her career as a writer; the path she followed to becoming an internationally known, bestselling author. I still have much to learn, but Kathryn provided, encouragement, tools, and skills that will enable me to grow and chart my own course
Andrew W., Maine, retired professor, Writer to Writer

The Art of the Personal Essay was a great class. Kathryn was encouraging, letting us know what we did well, but she also took time to give us suggestions for how we could improve our work. Her feedback made me more confident and enthusiastic about trying my hand at writing. The esprit de corps in our class was beyond what I would have thought possible in a Zoom class. The energy was lovely and it was a real pleasure to share work with writers from Australia to Europe to America.
Kimberley K., teacher, Michigan