Growing up in a family of first responders instilled in me a deep passion for helping others. My mom, a retired paramedic, never left home without a med bag just in case she came across someone in need. It wasn’t unusual for a family trip to have a detour if an accident was witnessed. I felt the deep call to be of service to those in need from a very young age.

While I grew up in a very loving and tight-knit family, it was also a typical American household. Meals frequently came from a box or the microwave. Cooking from scratch was something you only did on holidays. When I had my daughter, I was on my way to raising her in the same manner.

In 2008, tragedy struck when I lost my husband, Spc. Richard Burress, to an IED in Iraq. Being a widow and single mom at 25 changed my perspective. Life suddenly had an expiration date and things that seemed so important previously now seemed trivial. The corporate career no longer held the same allure. Instead, I became focused on enjoying life’s moments with my daughter. I realized more than ever how important it was to nurture quality of life. It was during this time that I was first exposed to holistic medicine. I met a chiropractor who taught me about eating healthy and taking care of myself. Dinners switched from fast food to home-cooked meals with my loved ones at the table.

As I continued this journey into healthy living, I decided to try my hand at homesteading. We moved into a house with a little land and began raising chickens. I had no idea how much this change in lifestyle would propel me toward my calling in life.

One of my chickens, Anne, became extremely sick with a respiratory illness. Every experienced chicken farmer I talked to told me to cull Anne, but I wasn’t ready to give up that easily. I took everything I had learned from helping my family beat minor illnesses and applied that knowledge to healing Anne. Everyone was surprised when Anne fully recovered and I discovered the rewarding feeling of helping an animal in need. This was the turning point when I knew it was time to answer that deep calling to help others that I felt as a young child. I was finally certain of my purpose.

Since healing Anne, I have worked with many other animals. Whether it’s a dog with a cold or a goat with a UTI, I love the challenges and rewards that come with working with animals. I’m frequently asked how I know what’s going on with the animals. That’s a difficult question to answer. There are always obvious signs such as lethargy, temperature fluctuations, or just not behaving quite like themselves to act as clues that something is wrong, but it’s sometimes intuition that helps me decide the best course of action to help them feel better. Whether it’s a physical or emotional issue, herbal medicine offers a wonderful option for helping our furry friends. I love the variety that comes with working with both humans and animals. I know a day with a few humans, a turkey, and a goat on my schedule is going to be an interesting one.

My passion for healing isn’t isolated to animals. I love working with humans too. By utilizing herbal medicine and sharing my knowledge of a healthy lifestyle, I’m helping my clients live healthier, happier lives. And that’s really what it’s all about!

Today, I follow my passion enthusiastically. As a Certified Clinical Herbalist, I followed some of Florida’s leading herbalists, completing a 2-year Western Herbalism program including over 160 clinical hours. My lineage includes mentors from the Cherokee, Ecuadorian, Caribbean, and Scottish cultures providing a unique experience within the herbalism community. The clinicals allowed me to be involved in various cases, exposing me to the magical world of herbal healing. This experience left me hungry, so upon graduation, I enrolled in a 2-year Traditional Chinese Herbalism program. I’ve now added Chinese Herbalism to my Western Herbalism practice giving me a unique mesh of tools to choose from when working with clients. I continue to follow mentors, attend conferences, and read all the books I can get my hands on to continually expand my knowledge of the healing arts.

“Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favour compared with the products of nature, the living cell of the plant, the final result of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life.” – T. A. Edison