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Meet Crystal "Cris" White

April 20, 2023 SSAI Spotlight Series, SSAI in the News

Cris is passionate about being out in nature and inspiring the public to appreciate our state parks and the night sky; so much so that she has helped several locations in the U.S. become Certified International Dark Sky Places (IDSP). According to the IDSP, January 2023 marked only 201 Certified Dark Sky Places in the world. Cris's love of the clear night sky is reflected in the book she wrote during the pandemic too, titled Starry Sky Adventures Utah, which guides travelers through some of the best night-time activities and dark sky locations in Utah. Becoming an author was not a surprise to people who know Cris, as she is a such a lover and collector of books that her collection may be taking over her house. As her life philosophy is to be kind and help people, Cris is definitely someone you will want to get to know. Take a few minutes to learn about Cris!

Where did you grow up?

I spent most of my youth roaming the foothills of Star Valley, Wyoming.

What did you want to be when you were a kid? 
A jockey, though I grew much too tall for that.

Where did you go to school?
Utah State University in Logan, UT

Did you have a summer job while in high school or college? 
Yes, I worked as an interpreter at an elk refuge where I took scientific information and made it relatable to anyone. The idea was not to fill people with facts about a certain topic, but rather to inspire them to connect with the resources found within the park in a meaningful way.

What is your current role at work?
I am helping interpreters and informal educators around the US prepare for the upcoming annular and solar eclipse by linking them to NASA science, resources, citizen science efforts, projects, and subject matter experts.

What excites you most about your work and supporting our customers?
Engaging with people across the United States. I feel like I am learning so much in such a short amount of time. 

If you weren’t working in the field you are right now, what other job would you be interested in trying?

What is your favorite hobby?
Backpacking is my favorite thing to do in my time off. My love of wild places got me into it. There is such a feeling of freedom to know everything you need is right there on your back. As a child, we used to backpack into alpine lakes in Wyoming.

Tell us a little about your family and/or pets.
I been married for 3 years now to the most incredible Earthling I know. We are the humans for two sweet cats and two sweet pups. 

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
No matter what, change is going to happen. It is better to flex with the change rather than fight it.

What got you on the path to where you are now? 
I spent 15 years as a Park Naturalist/Dark Sky Ranger for a state park service before coming to SSAI.

What is your life philosophy?
Be kind to those you meet and try to help them however you can.

What is your favorite book or movie, and why did it speak to you so much?
Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. It is a beautiful look into space exploration, life, and the self-importance illusion. 

Share something that not many of your colleagues might know about you.
I have a ministry license so that I may marry people.

What is something you’ve done that makes you feel accomplished?
Assisting several places throughout the Southwest in becoming international dark sky places.

What are you most looking forward to this year?
The annular eclipse in October.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Denmark. Because it is beautiful and full of happy people.

Tell us your favorite life hack.
I figured out that I can use the door latch on my Subaru to open bottles.

Did you learn anything new during the pandemic?
I learned to cook incredible ramen.

Are you a member of any groups or clubs?
International Dark Sky Association and National Association for Interpretation

What question would you most like to know the answer to?
Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?

What is your claim to fame?
I authored a field guide during the pandemic.

What is your happiest memory?
Camping with my best mates in the mountains when I was young.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
Looking at your bookshelf makes me want to lick your brain.

Who or what inspires you?
Art inspires me. It is a beautiful way to evoke intense feeling from another soul.

What is your favorite family tradition?
Exchanging a book and chocolate bar with my love every Christmas Eve.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Sharing space science with interpreters and informal educators across the US.

What is the one thing that can instantly make your day?
Someone showing kindness.

What’s the strangest thing you have ever come across?
The mating dance of wolf spiders

What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to it yet?
Alpine mountaineering

What is something you feel is underrated?
Spontaneous joy!

What’s the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you?
Meeting my dog Mesa and being chosen as her human.

If you had to be haunted by a ghost but could choose who the ghost would be, who would you pick?
My mother Janel, she was the most gentle and caring person I have ever known.

Thank you for taking the time to let us get to know you a little better Cris!