Humans of NAU: Amy Horn

Amy Horn running in an open field with tall yellow grass (photo credit: Howie Stern)

Amy Horn loves taking photos, traveling and long-distance trail running, all of which take her to new and beautiful places. Horn, a teaching professor of photography, talks about how her early interests in accounting and woodworking factored into her career as a photographer, the community she’s found running ultramarathons in Flagstaff and the most brutal run she’s ever done.  

What brought you to NAU?  

Shortly after moving to Flagstaff, I pursued a master’s degree at NAU in secondary education. I taught high school in Flagstaff for 14 years before teaching part-time photography classes at NAU. I’ve always loved teaching and the college level was perfect, so I eagerly accepted a full-time photography teaching position in the fall of 2012. 

Amy Horn posing with a camera on a tripod and mountains in the background (photo credit Monica Saaty)

When did your interest in photography first start? How has it evolved over time? 

My interest in photography began in middle school with a basic color film camera; I carried it everywhere snapping photos. When I graduated from high school, I took my graduation money to purchase a single lens reflex (SLR) camera and two lenses. I continued to capture images wherever I traveled. As my children grew up, I invested in an early digital camera and loved the new technology. I took over the photo program at Coconino High School and taught photo workshops for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes. In addition to teaching photography, my photo interests include macro, water, studio splash photography, ice, wildlife and travel.  

What made you take up long-distance running? What do you get out of it? 

Our youngest son is a competitive ultrarunner (running distances greater than a marathon) and after years of watching him race, I gave it a try. He made it look so easy. But it took several years and a change to eating a whole food, plant-based diet to get me running beyond the 5K and tackling ultra distances. Fortunately, Flagstaff has a supportive running community, from our local run store to many run clubs (Trail Run Divas, Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association, Rogue Runners, etc.). For me, I love the challenge of seeing what my body can do and the time with friends on trails.  

What is the most challenging run you’ve ever done? What made it so challenging? 

Imogene Pass was challenging–both times I ran it, but the most challenging run I’ve done was the Elden Crest 36. The race started at Fort Tuthill, wove around Walnut Canyon, up and over Elden and finished at Heritage Square. Although I ran the Whiskey Basin 55K, the Elden Crest ultramarathon consisted of running 28 miles before starting the climb up Elden Lookout Trail. It was brutal. Despite running for over 10 hours and 38 miles total, I finished. And after the race, I walked home. Unfortunately, I tore a tendon in my foot and spent the next five months recuperating. That was brutal too–not running with my friends. 

Amy Horn and other runners posing for a selfieYou’re planning to participate in Moab Run the Rocks this spring, running the shorter distance of 33.1 miles over three days due to being in recovery from injury. What are you most looking forward to about this event? 

This event is all about my running community. A group of six female runners from Flagstaff took on this challenge. Several of us have been training together, and what better place for a run than the beautiful red rocks of Moab in the spring? I love how running takes me to new places with amazing views and meeting equally amazing people. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be an accountant. My mom worked in accounting, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. So, after receiving my bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in accounting at the University of Arizona, I took a job with a CPA firm in Denver. After two years of processing payroll and tax returns, I looked for something more and taught a class at the Denver Business College. That sparked my passion for teaching. I don’t regret the time working for the CPA because as a freelance photographer, my accounting background was priceless. 

Tell me about a significant childhood memory and how it has impacted your life today. 

During grade school, my parents owned an unfinished furniture store. Each weekend, my stepdad taught me to use many woodworking tools and saws. So, during college, I took those skills and designed Southwest coyote and cactus wood art. Not only did I use my business skills, but this also fed my creativity. I learned how color and composition work together to create moods and draw attention to a piece of artwork. 

What are three things on your bucket list? 

I’ve never had a defined bucket list, but a few things that interest me include travel, photography and trail running. My plans after I retire in May include: 

  1. Travel to New Zealand for photography and running trails.  
  2. Run the Avalon 50K or 50-mile race in 2025 on Catalina Island to see the full island and buffalo, not just the city of Avalon. 
  3. Take a long road trip similar to my eight-week coastal sabbatical photography trip—but this time, with my husband. 


Top photo credit: Howie Stern | Second photo credit: Monica Saaty

Know someone who would make a good profile in Humans of NAU? Email your suggestions to 

NAU Communications