Erin K. Johnson
Erin K. Johnson was a beautiful, compassionate, exuberant person. She lived her brief 27 years to the fullest, finding her greatest joy outside exploring wild and remote places with her best friend and husband, Abe; her parents, Barb and Steve; and her extended family of friends and loved ones. A life-long Alaskan, Erin grew up in the mountains, hiking, camping and exploring, especially around her parents' home in Chugiak and the Chugach Mountains.
Erin was born on July 20th, 1989 in Anchorage and was killed by a predatory black bear while she was working for Alaska Biological Research (ABR) near Delta near Pogo Mine.
A talented athlete, Erin graduated from Chugiak High School, in 2007, and represented Alaska as a member of the Junior Olympic Nordic Ski Team in 2006 and 2007. During her high school summers, Erin worked as a counselor at Trailside Discovery Camp in Anchorage, Alaska, where she channeled her playful energy to connect kids with nature and foster a sense of citizen stewardship. With a boundless sense of creativity and conviction, her many contributions included serving as President of Chugiak High School "Green Effects" Club and as President of the University of Montana's Geology Club.
A geologist and botanist by training, Erin studied at the University of Alaska Anchorage and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in geology from the University of Montana in Missoula in 2011. She had a deep scientific appreciation for the nature she loved to explore. Throughout her professional work, Erin dedicated her energy and talent to the research, understanding and conservation of the environment and natural resources. Whether it was studying glaciers in Greenland, conducting bird surveys on the North Slope in Alaska, or collecting plant samples in Prince William Sound, Erin was dedicated to her work and inspired those around her. She worked as a researcher and field biologist for U.S. Forest Service, the Alaska Natural Heritage Program and, during the past 5 years, for Alaska Biological Research.
Erin explored more corners of the world through personal and work trips than most people could dream of visiting in a lifetime. She was always inviting and up for an impromptu hike, an after-work ski, an evening campfire or another grand adventure somewhere. She hiked, backpacked, pack-rafted, mountain biked and skied her way around Alaska. Erin spent a year as a child in Australia and later explored Costa Rica with her parents; traveled in South America and pack-rafted rivers in Idaho and Montana with close friends; and mountain-biked, skied and explored her way through places like Scotland, Ireland and Japan with Abe.
Erin's wonderful energy, quirky sense of humor, dedication, sparkle, generosity and talent touched everyone she knew, and left them all the better. She was always quick to lend a hand and generously thoughtful with handcrafted gifts, treats and beautifully illustrated cards and notes for those she loved. Her passions extended to gardening, playing her violin, making art in many forms, a love of board games, foraging and preserving the bounty she harvested.
Erin is survived by her husband, Abe Schmidt of Anchorage; and her parents, Barb and Steve Johnson of Peters Creek, Alaska. She is sorely missed by a cadre of loving aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family and innumerable friends from Alaska and around the world.