Jill Moore, right, describes the anatomy of a starfish to her fascinated aunt Patty Jam, who was visiting from Montana, during one of Moore2Life’s eco-tours of the Lowcountry. PHOTOS COURTESY MOORE2LIFE

Jill Moore was in search of a locale full of outdoor adventure where she could raise her three sons.

She was raised in Illinois, and spent summers in Montana where her parents grew up. Those summers shaped her future and brought her to the Lowcountry where she has founded Moore2Life, a nature-based company with a mission to educate and develop an appreciation of the environment through unique and personalized activities and events.

“I think my love of nature comes mostly from being in Montana,” said Moore, who is a master naturalist. “I feel most energized and at peace at the same time when I am outside. It’s where I feel the most alive. In deciding to do this, it’s just a passion of mine. You have to follow your passion, and believe in yourself, and if you can inspire others along the way that’s even better.”

Moore moved to Okatie from Illinois where she was a special education teacher. She was teaching first grade at Okatie Elementary School when the Clemson Cooperative Extension began offering the Master Naturalist Program to teachers for free.

“That’s how I ended up doing the master naturalist program. For two years I went around the Lowcountry every weekend and completed the course. Then some of my students asked me to come over to the Oldfield community to teach a few nature courses there. That’s how I got hired as their naturalist.”

She left Oldfield at the beginning of 2020 to “do my own thing.”

“The pandemic’s kind of what spurred it, and it’s everyone doing their own thing, so it was a perfect time to step away and follow the dream,” Moore said. “After being a naturalist for a private community for almost eight years, I felt the need to be a naturalist for everyone. That was kind of what inspired Moore2Life to come to life.”

Moore said she wanted to reach and teach not just locals but visitors and newcomers as well. “I wanted to be able to do nature walks, beach discovery walks and presentations for not only all the communities here but tourists, so many people moving in. There was a need,” she said. “And especially with the pandemic, so many people rediscovered the outdoors and it gave me the opportunity to help them do that.”

Moore leads tours to the Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Charleston County; eco-cruises across Port Royal Sound; Coligny Beach nature walk and yoga; an overnight trip to Congaree National Park to explore both a blackwater creek and a rare blackwater swamp; and she hosts Fourth Friday at Port Royal Cypress Wetlands, which is scheduled next for Oct. 22.

“I am the in-house naturalist for Port Royal Cypress Wetlands. With that walk or any of the walks I do, it’s usually an hour and a half or two hours exploring whatever we come across, from the smallest little plant to our great blue herons and alligators. It’s about living as one with nature,” Moore said.

Even though she has the master naturalist title, Moore is also learning when she takes a group on a tour.

“One memorable moment was while leading a group on a discovery beach walk on Daufuskie when we observed hundreds of ‘plant-like’ purplish succulents washing ashore. I had never seen anything like it,” said Moore. “We then learned they were sea pansies, and not a plant at all but an amazing sea creature.”

The tours may involve bikes, hikes, kayaks or boats, and Moore said experiences can be tailored to the group, from beginners to those who want to do something off the beaten path.

“When someone has grandkids in town and I’m asked to do a discovery beach walk or I’m leading a school-aged group, my first choice is usually Fish Haul Beach (on Hilton Head Island). There is so much to explore, and we always discover something amazing. It’s fun for kids and people of all ages, whether we’re discovering holes in the sand and what lives there or whether we’re finding fiddler crabs, hermit crabs, blue crabs or horseshoe crabs,” she said. “It’s a mix of sand, dunes, the high marsh and at low tide, tons of pluff mud, so it just supports the biodiversity of this area.”

Moore has given presentations for Coastal Discovery Museum, local community groups, senior homes and civic clubs.

“The Lowcountry is filled with a lot of hidden gems for all levels of nature lovers,” Moore said. “It’s actually one of my favorite talks to give, where I share 15 to 20 local areas, what you’ll see while there, and the best time to visit them.”

For more information, visit moore2lifesc.com.

Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.