As a college student, I am surrounded by some of the brightest young adults in the country. Whenever people ask these bright individuals about their future goals, I hear them talk of ambitious aspirations of becoming lawyers pursuing criminal justice reform, doctors focusing on degenerative diseases, or engineers building rockets for SpaceX.
But whenever anyone has asked me that question, I mumble through a mostly incoherent answer and attempt to change the topic as quickly as possible. I throw out words such as “environment” and “engineer” and “water resources.” Just enough to satisfy the person’s interest, and not much more. But now that I have reached the ripe old age of 20, my jumbled answer is simply not going to be enough. I knew I had to pick a point to start the search for my direction. I came to the conclusion that working for an environmental non-profit, especially one that focused on water quality and use, would be the best place for me to start that search. This realization ultimately led me to pursue an internship with the Wolf River Conservancy, and I am overjoyed I made that decision. But before I get into my time at the Conservancy, allow me to fully introduce myself.
My name is Nathan Campbell. I am about to enter my junior year at the University of Alabama, majoring in Environmental Engineering and double-minoring in Public Policy and Environmental Studies. Originally born in Mississippi, I was raised for the majority of my life in Collierville, Tennessee. I love being outside, hiking and kayaking in particular, and visiting every national park is currently at the top of my bucket list. I also collect vinyl records in my spare time, as well as watch an excessive amount of romantic comedies and Broadway musicals.
Now, back to the question of why I decided to pursue an internship with the Wolf River Conservancy. I am part of the generation that will have to bear the brunt of the damage inflicted upon on our natural environment: shrinking water supplies, pervasive pollutants residing in landfills and rivers, worsening air quality, and too many more to name. As bleak as that may seem to me and my peers, I believe that we have the access to knowledge unknown to prior generations, willpower that only comes from having our backs against the wall, and technology that could only be imagined 50 years ago needed to tackle these problems head-on. Maybe it’s my youthful naivety or the possibility that I am delusional, but I steadfastly believe the problems are not insurmountable. And it is my belief that the Wolf River Conservancy will give me the opportunity to see what it is like to tackle these problems from the perspective of a local, grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to protecting water resources.
As an intern with the Conservancy, I have participated in several service projects alongside Ryan Hall, including trash clean-ups and trail maintenance at Kennedy Park, among other activities. Moreover, I am a Greenway Ambassador, tasked with being a knowledgeable representative of the Conservancy out on the Greenway trails. Some of you might have seen me walking the Greenway, or you might have seen me at the Cycle the Greenway event
Working for the Conservancy has opened my eyes to what is possible when groups of passionate individuals decide to roll up their sleeves and address problems within our society. In the end, I am glad my search for a direction led me to the Wolf River Conservancy.