Meet Emma: Devotee of Ecology

We’re excited to welcome our 2022 seasonal stewardship crew! Camryn Brent, Cassie Stitzman, and Emma Campbell joined us in the last few weeks and will be out in the parks doing much-needed ecological restoration work until the end of the summer. This week Emma Campbell shares her introduction. We are inspired by her lifelong interest in plants and ecology! Help us welcome her to Oakland Township.
-Ben

My name is Emma Campbell and I am thrilled to be working as a land stewardship technician this summer. I am a born and raised Ohioan. For the past four years I have lived a little over five hours south of Oakland Township, in Athens, Ohio. There I am a student at Ohio University and will be graduating with my Bachelor’s in Field Ecology and a certificate in Environmental Studies in December of this year.

Taking a needed snack break at a campsite along the Zaleski State Forest backpacking trail.

I have had the great privilege of being born into an outdoorsy family. Spending summers in the panhandle of Florida with my native landscaper grandfather instilled in me a love of plants.

My grandfather showing me some trees in 2001.

This love of plants broadened into a passion for ecology in late high school and early college. In my sophomore year of high school I stumbled upon an article about Lycorma delicatula, the spotted lanternfly. L. delicatula is an invasive planthopper native to southeastern Asia that was first spotted in Berks County, Pennsylvania. This led me on a deep-dive of the effects of invasive species in ecosystems as a teenager. Over the course of several years I saw its rapid spread throughout the northeast, eventually making landfall in my home state in 2020. From there I learned to recognize invasive species everywhere I went. This further opened my eyes to the long-lasting effects of human disturbance.

As my interest in ecology unfolded, I became fascinated by the unseen. I am captivated by soil ecology and the importance of microbes in plant-soil interactions. Plant productivity is tied closely to the nutrients made ‘available’ to them by a whole host of soil microbes belonging to archaea, bacteria, and fungi. I am considering continuing my education and obtaining a graduate degree in soil sciences in the future.

At Ohio University I have worked as a research assistant on several species within the genus Lycopodiella. Plants within this genus are referred to as the bog clubmosses. As their name suggests, they commonly occupy bogs and wetland areas. My research involves collecting morphological data to identify hybrids. Several specimens that I have worked with were collected in southern Michigan region.

I am greatly looking forward to exploring natural areas in and around Oakland Township this summer. I am an avid hiker and backpacker. On many weekends throughout the summer you can find me donning a well-loved 1970’s aluminum frame backpacking pack passed down to me from my parents. I am planning a weekend backpacking trip to North Manitou Island later this summer. I would love any and all suggestions for Michigan trails before I head back south!

Preparing native seed mix for planting at Blue Heron Environmental Area.

Since starting two weeks ago, I have already learned so much from my co-workers and fellow seasonal stewards. I am confident that I will come away from this season with expanded knowledge and a solidified appreciation for all things Michigan.

One thought on “Meet Emma: Devotee of Ecology

  1. Great piece, Emma! It’s so interesting that you’ve been exploring invasive species since high school – and that you’ve become fascinated by the “unseen” creatures of the soil and their importance to plants. I think Oakland Township Parks will benefit from your curiosity and obvious love of your chosen field. I’m glad you’re here with us this summer and hope you have a great learning experience in our parks. – Cam

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