Lindsay Campbell joined the U.S. Forest Service soon after Sept. 11. Immediately she hit the ground running working on the Living Memorials Project, an agency initiative that gave grants to communities to use trees to create living memorials in remembrance of the tragedy.
Today the research social scientist is working at the New York City Urban Field Station and is a doctoral candidate in geography at Rutgers University while also competing on the U.S. National Team for fencing where she is ranked third in the country.
You have an interesting job in the Forest Service in New York City. What eventually brought you there?
While attending Princeton University, where I studied public policy and environmental studies, I had the opportunity to speak with a Forest Service State and Private Forestry representative in New York City. I had no prior experience with the Forest Service, but I was interested in natural resource management and environmental policy in an urban context.
After meeting the Forest Service employee, I joined the New York City Urban Field Station as a Princeton ReachOut ’56 fellow. This was soon after Sept. 11 and the agency was authorized by Congress to create the Living Memorials Project. This involved supporting emerging community-based memorials such as tree plantings and new parks, and documenting the creation and uses of these landscapes to better understand the stewardship of these sites. I assisted with everything on the Living Memorials Project including communication, grants and outreach, but I gravitated toward conducting research.
I met local community-based stewardship groups in the field which got me interested in urban stewardship more broadly. I was lucky enough to then be hired by the Northern Research Station as a technician and I’ve been with the station ever since. I am now in the Scientist Recruitment Initiative and working on my Ph.D. My colleague and I are going back this year, 10 years later, to sample living memorial sites to see how they changed or persisted.
How did you get start getting involved in urban stewardship?
I was always interested in environmental policy and the interaction between humans and their environment, urban history, and cities. I took several courses on the history of urbanization in college and developed an interest in how cities change over time. I was also interested in politics and policy making. Princeton didn’t have an environmental policy major so I combined a major in public policy with a certificate in environmental studies. Today I often focus my research on questions of urban environmental stewardship such as individuals choosing to plant a tree or studying how community groups work with local government and business. Through our urban field station, I work with the City of New York to support research of urban ecosystems.
You have a unique pastime that may take you to the London 2012 Olympics.
I’m a competitive fencer. I started when I was 9 years old in a suburb of Cleveland where my town had a recreational program. It’s as much of a game as it is a tactical sport. It’s intellectually interesting while also physically demanding. I fenced in college and I’m on the U.S. National Team.
In fact, you’re ranked third in the country and you travel the globe to compete.
After I moved to New York, I started training at the New York Fencers’ Club and now represent the New York Athletic Club. I eventually ranked nationally high enough to begin competing in the world cup circuit starting in 2003. Every year there’s a world championship. On the U.S. team, the top four are eligible to compete on the world championship team. I was on the team in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. I’ve traveled to many places to compete, including all over Europe, Australia, China, Qatar, and I’ve even been to Havana four times.
If you could live in any other time, when would that be?
I’d like to take a time machine and float through New York City’s entire history. There have been many waves of social movements going on here. I’m interested in the progressive movement around the turn of the 19th century when people were starting to organize and improve the urban environment, tenant rights and quality of life. It was a super interesting time. I’d like to experience any moment in history when citizens organized to elevate issues of social justice and environmental quality.
The Faces of the Forest is a project of the U.S. Forest Service Office of Communication to showcase the people, places and professions within our agency, which is responsible for 193 million acres of forests and grasslands in 44 states and territories. If you know someone you would like to have profiled here, send an email with the person's name, work location and a bit about to Faces of the Forest.