Voices in the Wilderness: Taylor Staley

My name is Taylor Staley and I have grown up in the wilderness my entire life. I began experiencing the outdoors at a very young age and it changed me because I fell deeply in love with the fact that nobody could take it away from me. There is one very specific experience that I will share with you and it includes berry picking.

I grew up with my mother and was often around my grandparents that lived near an older woman and her husband who owned a blueberry farm. This blueberry farm was deep and full of inviting berries, a place for precious wild animals for us to admire, and the place I wanted to be
every moment of every day. It was a form of heaven on earth choosing a busted basket and being given the freedom to eat and pick the berries that stood out to me. I was just a little girl wearing a messy bun each time and a darling summer dress with buttons to protect my skin from the sunshine. I would plan all day to pick these berries and roll around in the bushels until my mother had to drag me out of the farm.

I would look down at my fingers that were stained dark purple and laugh uncontrollably until my stomach would begin to hurt from eating berries all day long.

I would look down at my fingers that were stained dark purple and laugh uncontrollably until my stomach would begin to hurt from eating berries all day long. There was something about the days I would spend endless hours at this blueberry farm because there was nothing else to worry about, not even the young worries that should not matter. These were the moments that forced me to look forward to the next week of picking. I always enjoyed the thrill of picking as many berries as I wanted and to be a part of the farm. The family that owned the farm was so generous and all they ever wanted was to provide a special place for others to enjoy.

The family that owned the farm was so generous and all they ever wanted was to provide a special place for others to enjoy.

They even offered up their house a couple of times when we did not want to leave. There were hammocks in her home that hung down from the ceiling and I remember as a child fighting for who gets the best hammock to sleep in. This was an all around experience that lasted me years and I will always have a love for berry picking. These berries were mouthwatering but the acreage of property that the farm lived on was even more relaxing than my bed at home, which is why not just me but many locals and family members of mine loved picking berries.

These berries were mouthwatering but the acreage of property that the farm lived on was even more relaxing than my bed at home…

I feel as if I have many memories and experiences in the wilderness but this berry farm will forever have a place in my heart and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to create memories and become a part of the farm community. I wish I could go back to when the sunscreen left thick layers on my skin and all I was curious about was how far I could run into the farm and eat all the berries that could possibly fill me up.


Scholarship winners Caiya, Taylor, and Sam at the Clark Fork High awards ceremony.

Taylor Staley graduated from Clark Fork High School. She was one of the winners of FSPW’s High School Scholarship contest in 2022 for her outstanding story about a memorable wilderness experience.

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