Author, Educator, Reporter,
Tour Guide, Travel Writer
In September 2017, Verna Gates launches her new book, "100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die". This book features the best of the Magic City, from high cuisine to gas station BBQ, from the opera to the hiking trail, from history to hipster. Verna delights in sharing the rich culture of food, music and struggles of Birmingham, along with its striking natural beauty.
In 2006, Verna turned her concern about nature deficit disorder in children and founded Fresh Air Family, a statewide organization dedicated to outdoor science education. The non-profit offers more than 400 outdoor education programs across the state and served 1,164 kids in its 2016 summer programs. This year, the Ruffner Mountain-based organization is expecting 5,000 school children on field trips.
As an ethnobotanist, she has appeared on NBC NightSide, National Public Radio in Canada, Voice of America, Pulse of the Planet, FOX 6 News and many more. For her conservation work, she has been named Alabama Conservationist of the Year by the Alabama Environmental Council, "An Alabama Treasure" by the Huntsville Times, and "One of Alabama's Unforgettable Faces" by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism. She has taught botany at Miles College, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and other educational institutions.
She formerly reported for TIME Magazine and the world's largest news organization, Reuters, which reaches 1 billion readers and 417,000 media outlets. In 2009, she was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the National Federation of Presswomen, the Communicator of Achievement Award. She has won numerous national awards for her articles. She has covered some of the nation's top stories including the Eric Rudolph bombing, BP Oil Spill, Hurricane Ivan, and the underage sex trade. She has interviewed President Barack Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Dolly Parton and many more fascinating people.
Her career began as one of the original 50 employees of CNN who worked to launch the network. She worked for CNN as a writer/producer for four years.
Click here to read archived articles that Verna has written for various publications.
Humorist / Speaker/Storyteller
A gifted speaker, Verna tells big stories, having twice been awarded the tall tale tittle of Biggest Liar in Alabama, lies being Southern-speak for stories. She has been selected by VISA as an official storyteller in the Southern region as part of their literacy program.
The Alabama Bureau of Tourism named Verna "One of Alabama's Unforgettable Faces for 2003" and The Huntsville Times named her "An Alabama Treasure." A nationally-known folklorist, her stories have appeared on NBC's Nightside, CNBC National Radio in Canada, Worldwide Television Network, Pulse of the Planet, Voice of America and others. She wrote and voiced her CD, Renegade Squirrels and Other Nut Cases.
Always a tourist in her hometown, Verna also works with Alabama Tourism to recruit international, national and regional travel journalists to her beloved home state of Alabama. She crafts itineraries and shares stories about our people and places, from the heroic to the quirky, from icons to hidden gems. Having spent a career at the national and international levels of journalism, Verna takes pride in successfully enticing top-level journalists to visit Alabama and for her role in promoting the state's tourism renaissance.
As travel writer, Verna recently published articles in Birmingham Magazine and Desoto Magazine. She has traveled the world writing travel stories about destinations from beaches to art openings to historic sites.