Shannon grew up in Mentor, OH, graduating from Mentor High School in 1994. While in high school she enjoyed the dramatic arts, played trumpet in band and was a member of the National Honor Society and the varsity volleyball team.
Shannon’s love of nature, wildlife and the environment can be traced to her many childhood tent camping trips with her family. Experiences such as dealing with clouds of bugs on Ocracoke Island, rain storms in Tennessee and blistering heat in New Mexico on a marathon 3 week trip seemed to forge a connection to the out of doors that would last a lifetime.
Following high school, Shannon attended Miami University in Oxford, OH where she graduated with a dual major in Zoology and Spanish in 1998. During her college years she spent several summers working with young people as a counselor at Camp Crowell-Hilaka in Ohio and as a wildlife researcher for the Student Conservation Association in Oregon. She also spent one summer studying abroad in Spain.
College graduation found Shannon at a crossroads in her life. She knew she wanted to work in a field that would have a positive impact on nature and wildlife and yet she was unsure as to how to make that happen. Following a summer’s work with Lake MetroParks in Lake County, OH, she entered a graduate program at Lesley University in Boston, MA. The program, the Audubon Expeditionary Institute, was a unique combination of travel and scholarship. 30 grad students lived “on the bus” with two professors for three semesters (followed by a forth semester internship) while they traveled through a region of the U.S. During their travels they would study the area’s environmental problems along with exploring possible solutions. Shannon’s AEI group traveled extensively in New England and the Southwest. Also during her time with AEI, she spent time working as a legislative liaison with the Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, DC and Maine. The AEI experience profoundly deepened Shannon’s love of nature and made her a committed environmentalist.
Graduation from Lesley/AEI in May, 2000 with an M.A. in Environmental Education, led Shannon to her first full time job. The Ohio Sierra Club hired her as a Transportation Specialist. During the next two years Shannon worked on a variety of Transportation related issues in her new home of Columbus, Ohio.
While Ohio had been Shannon’s home, she yearned to travel and be closer to a greater variety of natural beauty. Fond memories of her time in Oregon led her to seek a way to live in the Pacific Northwest. With this in mind, she took a job as a Regional Organizer for the Sierra Club and moved to Seattle, WA in February 2003. Shannon would spend the rest of her life working on behalf of the environment and traveling to see the world that she was trying improve.
As Shannon’s friend Mandy LeBlanc said in the March, 2008 edition of the Cascade Crest: “She embodied the highest ideal of community organizing—helping others to realize how powerful they truly are, and helping them to wield that power collectively for the common good. Her work included the Cool Cities Campaign, the Cool Schools Campaign, protecting Washington’s Dark Divide and the Wild Sky Wilderness areas among many others. Her innovative organizing on the Eastside of Seattle proved crucial in turning the key vote needed to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She was most proud, however of her work developing students and youth as environmental leaders.”
The boundless promise of Shannon’s life was cut short by a senseless act of violence on New Years Eve, 2007.
The Green Shanny Foundation stands as a memorial to her desire to make the world a better place.