Rebecca Young is an essayist, educator, and adventurer living in the high rockies of Colorado. She writes creative nonfiction that seeks to disrupt the patriarchal and anthropocentric mythos of Western wilderness and outdoor adventure. Through a blending of scientific inquiry and lyricism, her writing seeks to magnify nonhuman lives and celebrate the teeming vitality of ecosystems even as humankind diminishes them. In 2020, Rebecca’s essay, “Joan” won the Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Creative Nonfiction at New Letters (read “Joan” at New Letters). Her essays have been widely published, and her writing has been generously supported by the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and Jentel Arts. She is currently working on two unique essay collection manuscripts. Strange Wild Songs is a bold and joyful imagining of the deeply felt nonhuman lives that surround us and the curious, exhilarating, and sometimes painful stories that come from allowing oneself to be counted among the community of living things. Before the Sky Cracks Open is a deeply personal reckoning of a life lived in pursuit of wildness, its joys and its costs. This lyric examination of what it means to be a backcountry adventurer and rescuer, a carrier of grief and ghosts as well as awe, subverts every expectation we hold about heroes and the conquering of mountains.



Rebecca first learned to love wild places and nonhuman lives growing up on a rural horse farm in northern Illinois, where she spent her childhood pretending to be any creature but human among the oak-hickory forests and native prairies surrounding her home. Like so many others, she followed siren songs West as a young woman, and began building a career in outdoor education and service to help herself and others develop authentic and respectful relationships with wilderness and cultivate an ethic of collaboration and caring. Today, Rebecca teaches outdoor education and emergency and austere medicine throughout the West. She serves on her county search and rescue team, and this year celebrates seven years of continuous service, including serving a term as president of her team, where she presided over the first-ever-in-Colorado all-female Board of Directors of a search and rescue organization. When she’s not in a classroom, she works in program development striving to increase equitable access and representation within the outdoor industry. She also works for her local ambulance service as an EMT, where she hopes to make her patients’ worst days a little less scary.