SOMETIMES STAYING INDOORS ON A beautiful day in Blacksburg is for the best.

“It was one of those days where it was like, ‘Do I really have to go to this seminar?’” said Kylie Campbell ’18. “But it definitely shaped my Virginia Tech experience. That day, I made the right decision.”

The seminar included Stephen Schoenholtz, director of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, who was introducing a new degree—water: resources, policy, and management.

One of the first graduates to earn the degree, Campbell is now a hydrologic technician for the U.S. Geological Survey at the Colorado Water Science Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she’s responsible for stream gaging a series of waterways in the region.

“The best parts are the views and the people,” she said. “I work with a really great group of people and a community that really sees the value of the work. And I get to work in some of the most beautiful places in the world.”

During her time in Blacksburg, Campbell took advantage of numerous academic and extracurricular opportunities.

“[Kylie] was an outstanding student in the traditional format of classroom performance, but she was also very balanced,” Schoenholtz said. “She was focused on her studies, but she also went hiking, she went camping, she did things outside of class. She kind of did it all.”

Campbell was named the 2018 Outstanding Senior for CNRE and upon graduation, immediately put her degree to work.

“I gave my graduation speech, finished up, and the next day, I flew to Colorado to start an internship with AmeriCorps,” she said.

Kylie Campbell uses a gas-powered auger to drill a hole for a sensor.
Kylie Campbell uses a gas-powered auger to drill a hole for a sensor.

Partnering with American Conservation Experience and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Campbell visited wildlife refuges across the country to help with a National Visitor Survey project. She said the work opened her eyes to the commonalities among groups of vastly different people.

“I really learned a lot from hunters and anglers about how they use the land and how they often support the wildlife refuges,” Campbell said. “Sometimes in the media the world can seem really divisive, but in general, people are so nice and willing to talk about what’s important to them.”

Campbell said that realization has transferred to her current position. It’s a job where she wears different hats and just as many different shoes, including waders.

“I definitely spend a lot of time at my desk writing reports, but I spend an equal amount of time trying to figure out how much rebar or concrete I need to use to deploy a sensor,” Campbell said.

Being able to land a job that combines informing public decisions related to natural resources with trudging around in streams is something Campbell credits to the university.

“Virginia Tech really taught me to be who I am, especially the Ut Prosim part. The service part of my job is really important to me … when I collect information today, it’s benefiting people today, but also researchers 20 years from now,” she said.

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