Martha Campbell (MS ’13)
Rocky Mountain Institute
What did it mean to you to be named a Wyss Scholar? What were some of the activities and opportunities that held the greatest impact for you?
Being named a Wyss Scholar meant a tremendous amount. My decision to attend graduate school was greatly inspired by the conservation and organizing work I’d done in New Mexico. To have this work acknowledged and valued through the program was such an honor. One particularly memorable event was a Wyss Scholar retreat hosted in Granby, Colorado. It was an invaluable opportunity to bring the Wyss community together and create a network that could support the scholars throughout their careers.
Can you tell us about your SEAS experience? How did it help you advance in the conservation field?
I am currently focused on decarbonization strategies for buildings in the U.S. While my day-to-day does not entail focusing on direct conservation, my SEAS education remains a foundation. Understanding of the ecological impacts of our work remains a top priority and a voice I regularly raise when needed within our organization. Bringing a systems-based approach to our work is also a core practice at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). The soft skills such as mediation and facilitation and policy strategy are tools we use daily at RMI, e-Lab being a good example of this.
What kind of changes have you observed in land conservation in the U.S. over the course of your career?
While conservation is not my day job at this point, as someone in the climate realm I do feel like some conservation efforts have gotten overshadowed by the climate movement, which I find troubling. At the same time, resources and land-use conflict will continue in a hotter world and many frontiers that it felt we had won are once again under pressure (increased exotic species trafficking and poaching). As one Namibian conservationist said to me, “All environmental problems are people problems. We have to solve the ‘people problem’ first if we want to have any chance in making progress on our conservation goals.” Wise words indeed.
Note: Prior to 2017, the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) was known as the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). References to “SNRE” have been updated to “SEAS” to reflect the name change.