Wild Keeper Spotlight: Kristine Camper

Wild Keeper Spotlight: Kristine Camper

Meet Wild Keeper Kristine! Kristine is just finishing up her first term as a Wild Keeper Ambassador this Summer. For the past 4 months she's been picking up trash and keeping nature wild around Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"My last name is Camper so it's in my family's DNA" Kristine joked with us when we asked her how she got into nature. We'd all like to live into a last name like that, wouldn't we?! Kristine loves to explore the outdoors by traveling and experiencing new places but "sometimes it can be really expensive so I love to just jump in my car and drive to a new place, park on some BLM land, and explore for a few days, meeting up with anyone I know that lives in that area."

Kristine's most memorable outdoor experience was from a childhood road trip she took with her family. "My family was traveling through some of the National Parks out west and we were driving through Theodore Roosevelt National Park at the time. I remember yelling to my parents to stop the car and my siblings and I all ran out to see hundreds of prairie dogs popping in and out of holes in the ground all around us. We had so much fun running around with them and seeing where they lived. It was a moment of being entwined in nature with animals I had never seen before." Kristine shared with us. 

Kristine shared with us her experience of being a woman in the outdoors and how she's working to empower women to get outside and adventure on their own. "I find the forces that can limit women to get outdoors almost every day that I go outside, especially if they are alone. I am almost always the only female outdoors when I am outside. It saddens me, but I decided to do something about it. Now I take friends and friends of friends out for their first trips. With this I teach them about equipment, safety, and the best ways to travel on THEIR terms. I am constantly getting messages afterwards about insight on new gear they are buying, how to be sustainable, and pictures from places they have started to venture out to on their own. I feel that empowering women is a huge challenge for the outdoor community, but I have fun doing it in this small way and love doing it."

Read more about Kristine and her experience as a Wild Keeper below! 

Keep Nature Wild: Quick, you can only pick one! Forests, mountains or deserts?
Kristine: Forests! 

KNW: What is your favorite thing about being a Wild Keeper?
K: I moved during the pandemic so it has been pretty difficult to make community in my new home so Keep Nature Wild has helped me meet some incredible people, safely, so that together we can pick up some trash and just have a good time.

KNW: What has picking up trash outdoors done for you? Has it shifted your perspective or opened your eyes to anything?
K: It gave me a lot of perspective to just how quickly trash can accumulate versus how long it takes to pick it back up. I think if everyone tried just an ounce harder when they were at home with recycling, trash, and compost the impact on the environment would see that effort tenfold and the earth would give those people a big ole hug. Now I am that person that goes through every bag of "trash" to make sure my home is separating things appropriately.

KNW: What is your favorite experience in nature so far? 
K: This would be the first time that I took my converted car to a National Park to explore and have a much needed escape during the pandemic. I went to Carlsbad Caverns and was awestruck by the underground formations and the effects of time on geology. It was so cool and a complete blast! It felt like I was being transported to a totally different world! 

KNW: Roughly how many pounds do you think you've picked up since you became a Wild Keeper?
K: Probably about 400-500 in the three months since I've been a Wild Keeper

KNW: That's amazing! What goals do you have for this year, or beyond? 
K: I am trying to work with the city police to help me get large trucks available to clean up some of the abandoned homeless camps in and around the city. There are a lot of mattresses and shopping carts that I can't move alone so my dream is to get some pickups or even a garbage truck out there and some volunteers to help give food, clean blankets, and maybe even a vaccination event out there to help those that are less fortunate in the community also experience beauty, cleanliness, and some new friendships.

Reading next

The Origins of Public Lands and Wilderness: A talk with Len Necefer, Founder of NativesOutdoors
How Does Litter Impact Waterways? A Conversation with Arizona Game and Fish

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