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‘Anyone can be a nature nerd’: Mother and daughter take to YouTube to educate Carroll County community about wildlife

An Outdoor School teacher and her daughter are using YouTube to educate others about streams, leaves and animals and scat.

Carly Miller and her daughter, Sammy, known on YouTube as Adventure Kid Sam, are the stars of the online series, Nature Nerds. Their goal went from encouraging people to go outside during the pandemic to simply educating others about wildlife. The two started making videos in March 2020, when Sammy was just 5.

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“Everyone was scared to go out so we made a show so people weren’t scared to go outside,” the now 7-year-old said in an interview.

Miller said the idea was born at the beginning of the pandemic. She wanted to remind others that it’s healthy to be outdoors during tough times.

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Carly Miller, a teacher at Outdoor School, and her daughter Sammy, 7, who stars as "Adventure Kid Sam" make videos about nature that are featured on their popular "Nature Nerds" YouYube Channel.
Carly Miller, a teacher at Outdoor School, and her daughter Sammy, 7, who stars as "Adventure Kid Sam" make videos about nature that are featured on their popular "Nature Nerds" YouYube Channel. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Miller didn’t know much about making videos at first, but learned on the go. She said the videos have improved since the first one she’s made. And it helped that her daughter is outspoken. Miller also started a Facebook group with 1,300 people who share pictures of wildlife or order Nature Nerds shirts.

As the videos persisted, they gained a lot of followers and Carroll County Public Schools teachers started to use the videos in their curriculum, Miller said. She added families said those who homeschool their children also use the videos to educate their kids.

Sammy’s first grade class in Pennsylvania also watched one of the videos. She took questions afterwards and “got to give a little bit of background,” she said. Miller said it’s turned Sammy into sort of a celebrity among her peers.

Sammy Miller, 7, who stars as "Adventure Kid Sam" makes nature videos with her mother Carly, a teacher at Outdoor School, that are featured on their popular "Nature Nerds" YouYube Channel.
Sammy Miller, 7, who stars as "Adventure Kid Sam" makes nature videos with her mother Carly, a teacher at Outdoor School, that are featured on their popular "Nature Nerds" YouYube Channel. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Another plus, it gives Miller and Sammy time to bond, build their relationship and have fun together. The two were both wearing T-shirts that read “Nature Nerds” on the front, Miller’s was blue and Sammy’s was pink. “Adventure Kid Sam” was printed on the back of Sammy’s.

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“I like that I get to hold wild creatures that my mom catches,” Sammy said shortly after holding the Outdoor School turtle, Shelly, and playing with cicadas she captured.

Holding the animals doesn’t bother her, unless they’re venomous, she said.

“If you give it to me, they’ll be safe,” she said to her mom.

Of the 14 videos they produced so far, with most receiving a few hundred views, Miller said her favorite episode is “Monarchs and Milkweeds” because of the great lesson that comes along with it. It tells viewers the value in milkweed.

“And who doesn’t love butterflies?” she added.

Sammy said her favorite is “tracks and scat” which tells viewers about different animal droppings. She also liked “A day at the zoo.” It took place at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve in Thurmont. The staff allowed them “behind the scenes” access, Sammy said, and she got to hold a python.

Miller said the love of wildlife was passed down to her by her dad who sometimes makes appearances in the videos as Grandpa Carl. She said he was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

“I always called him Dr. Dolittle,” she said.

Miller said she hopes other parents will watch their videos and get the kids outside. The pair are now planning for season two and some of the topics they hope to cover is wetlands, salamanders and taking environmental action.

“Anyone can be a Nature Nerd,” Miller said. “You don’t have to have the background.”

“Just [have] a thing you want to explore,” Sammy added.

Carly Miller, a teacher at Outdoor School, and her daughter Sammy, 7, who stars as "Adventure Kid Sam" make videos about nature that are featured on their popular "Nature Nerds" YouYube Channel.
Carly Miller, a teacher at Outdoor School, and her daughter Sammy, 7, who stars as "Adventure Kid Sam" make videos about nature that are featured on their popular "Nature Nerds" YouYube Channel. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

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