Heather and Shayne

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How We Met

Shayne is working to save the Leuser Ecosystem, a pristine tropical rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the last place on Earth where endangered rhinos, tigers, elephants, and orangutans all live together under one canopy. Right now this ecosystem is being decimated by illegal palm oil plantations. The industry uses illegal slash and burn tactics that literally incinerate precious forests to produce cheap vegetable oil for our snack foods.

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I am a veterinarian working to rescue captive exotic wildlife from situations of abuse and neglect and, before I met Shayne, I had been working for many years on a documentary called Racing Extinction about the exponential loss of species that we are facing on the planet today as a result of human activities. When I first traveled to Sumatra to learn about the devastation of pristine biodiversity hotspots for palm oil, I knew I was in for both an incredible and devastating journey… but I did not know that I would also meet the man of my dreams and partner in life and love.

After just a couple of weeks in the Leuser Ecosystem, I had experienced the awe of being in the presence of dozens of wild orangutans nesting in the treetops, met elephants who had been caught in conflict because their forest home was fragmented by palm oil plantations, and learned about the ground-breaking victories that local organizations were achieving against the incredible odds of a corrupt industry.

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Helping to lead this fight is a Kiwi man with a beautiful heart, a brilliant mind, and a fierce spirit. Shayne has dedicated over a decade of his life to running ground-breaking forest conservation campaigns. He is an unstoppable force for positive change on the planet and I could not be more proud to be his fiancé.

“If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love.”

how they asked

Shayne proposed to me in my hometown of Venice Beach surrounded by family, at sunset, while serenaded by a friend to our favorite love song, “Feel the Love.” The beauty of this proposal reaches far beyond the perfectly orchestrated moment that was captured on film when I found myself caught in tears of joy and glowing from the inside out in the orange light of the setting sun. Even beautiful though is how Shayne involved so many of the most important people and places in our lives in this special and intimate moment.

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Shayne’s sister in New Zealand helped pick out a beautiful ring with a conflict-free, eco-friendly diamond set on recycled white gold.

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Shayne’s colleague in New York helped get the ring to California and some of my closest friends helped transport it on the ground in LA, while our friends and brilliant filmmakers captured the moment so viscerally and our talented singer songwriter friends serenaded us on the beach.

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It was perfectly tailored to us, was a complete surprise to me, and was orchestrated by a collaborative effort that reflects just how blessed we are by a bounty of genuine love in our lives.

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Special Thanks

Leonidas Jaramillo
 | Cinematographer
Christopher Carson Smith
 | Filmmaker/Editor
Jess Harlen
 | Singer/Songwriter