Shirley DicKard1_med

I have always held the earth close to my heart

As a fourth generation Californian, Shirley has always been passionate about living close to the land and protecting the earth. Her first novel, Heart Wood – Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future, published March 2020, was written from her homestead in the Sierra Nevada.

Writing has always been an integral part of her work. Shirley draws from her background as a former pediatric RN and Executive Director of a rural community non-profit, and as current Editor of a small community newspaper and family historian to enrich this intricately woven story.

When she is not writing, she is tending her large homestead garden, walking in the woods with her husband and dog, spending time with their two daughter’s families, volunteering in their community, and yes, canning tomatoes.

Shirley Italian Model 1970 (2nd from left)

Shirley modeling in Italy
(2nd from left)

Shirley’s first exposure to environmental activism was Italian style in the 1970’s, modeling for the  leather designer Senior Albion in Florence, Italy, who staged his models in media events to protest Italy’s environmental degradation and corrupt politics.

She and her husband joined Project Hope on the  Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, where she taught western medicine to Navajo staff in exchange for glimpses into Navajo healing. There she served as midwife, pharmacist, mortician, and In-Service Education Director … as well as writer.

Shirley and her husband live on a homestead they built in the late-1970’s in the Sierra Nevada gold country in Northern California, where they raised their two daughters in a community of back-to-the-landers.  Shirley taught natural childbirth to expectant parents, and thirteen years later as School Nurse, sex education to their children.

 Middle Fork Yuba River

Yuba River
Sierra Nevada Mountains

 When the county water agency proposed   building a dam that would submerge a third of   the rural school’s families, Shirley helped  organize a protest by students to the County Board of Supervisors.  Dam plans were tabled. In her twelve years as Executive Director of a rural community non-profit, Shirley wrote endless grants and reports to funders.  Her secret to being successfully funded was her infusion of storytelling into her professional writing.

Now retired, Shirley enjoys a busy life devoted to family, writing, volunteering as editor of the local community newspaper, and working with the earth.


Writing Background and Affiliations

  • Contributing author to The Organization of Hope, A Workbook for Rural Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD Institute, 2001)
  • Sierra Health Foundation publications, contributing writer (1997-2007)
  • Freelance correspondent to The Union newspaper in Grass Valley (1995-1999)
  • Editor of The Camptonville Courier (current)
  • Member of Sierra Writers  in Nevada County since 2009
  • Co-Producer of The Women’s Writing Salon, Nevada County, 2014-2015
  • Co-Founder of The Sierra Muses Writing Workshop and Press

Past Professional Affiliations:

  • Registered Nurse, Public Health Nurse, School Nurse
  • Commissioner for the Yuba County Children and Families Commission
  • Board Member of the Sierra Family Medical Clinic
  • Fellow of the Health Leadership Program, University of Southern California/Sierra Health Foundation
  • Faculty member and trainer at the California Asset-Based Community Development Institute
  • Shirley has been keynote speaker, guest lecturer, panel member, facilitator, and trainer at over twenty-five conferences, workshops and training within the western states since 1996
  • She is currently a Board Member of Skyline Harvest Eco-Contemplative Center


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