Growing up in a family with three older brothers in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, Barbara enjoyed playing with her dolls, building leaf forts along the creek, and reading books.
She attended St. Mary’s School in Berea. During junior high, Barbara became a Girl Scout and was active throughout high school.
She graduated from Berea High in 1972 and headed off to South Bend, Indiana as one of the few females (only 125) in the freshman class as Notre Dame welcomed in the era of co-education. At the University of Notre Dame, she majored in biology and took classes in ecology, botany, and even entomology (the study of insects) – great preparation for her job as a naturalist with the Cleveland Metroparks. Barbara began sharing her love of nature by leading family discovery walks, night hikes (she can hoot like a barred owl -hoo,hoo,a,hoooo), and even woodland wildflower walks dressed as Mother Nature.
The Gowan family lived in Arizona for over thirty years sharing their yard with a covey of quail, a family of javelina, wandering coyotes, and an occasional rattlesnake. Recently Barbara moved to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC where three grandchildren and 14 Smithsonian museums provide ideas for writing projects.
The beauty of the desert with its unique cacti and critters offers inspiration for Barbara’s nonfiction books.
Barbara is a member of SCBWI – the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is on the roster of Teaching Artists with the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She is a former board member of the Arizona Reading Association and serves as vice-president of the Greater Paradise Valley Reading Council.
Barbara and Ed have two married daughters and two grandsons, Thomas and Finn, and two granddaughters, Maeve and Ella.