Each week, we want to celebrate members of our community that inspire us and spread #campvibes. We were inspired by this week’s Hipcamper of the Week, Leah T., because she encourages her friends to support eco-friendly campsites like the Blue Sky Center. She also runs a blog, Green Girl Food, which shares a sustainable mission. Thanks, Leah, for encouraging and educating others on how to be more environmentally-conscious adventurers.?
In addition to being celebrated on our site, Hipcampers of the Week win a limited edition MiiR x Hipcamp mug. Share your adventures with #Hipcamp to be next!
Tell us about your blog, Green Girl Food. What inspired you to start it and what type of things can people expect to find on it?
I started Green Girl Food to bring awareness to living sustainably and how it doesn’t have to be hard! Eating local or plant based are often seen as inaccessible options for most people because of price or common misconceptions. From there it expanded to including green beauty product, the adventures I go on, and interviewing other ‘Green Girls’ who are living sustainably. Because of that I renamed my instagram to @GreenGirlLeah to post about green living overall. I want to help people reduce their environmental impact without needing to alter their life too dramatically all at once.
You studied Environment Science & Policy at Chapman University. Did you come into college knowing you wanted to enter that field? How did you first become interested in environmental issues?
I went into college as a Biology major, but found myself only liking the classes that talked about ecosystems ecology or environmental issues! A light bulb went off when I realized there was an Environmental Science program and I fell in love. I started to become interested in environmentalism after learning more about environmental justice issues like food inequality and unequal access to green spaces. I loved spending time in nature and wanted to make sure 1) nature was preserved and 2) more people from different walks of life could learn to protect it and experience it sustainably.
I’m sure my mom being a pescatarian and my grandma’s love for plants helped too!
What’s one thing everyone can do every day to better the environment?
Turn off the lights! That’s a great place to start and once ready, upgrade to taking shorter showers and finding ways to reduce water and energy consumption overall.
Tell me about your time working for the National Park Service?
My first internship with the parks service was in rural Kansas at Nicodemus National Historic Site. When I say rural, I mean I was lucky if we had more than four visitors a day! It was a hidden gem though and I fell in love helping out with the wheat harvest and assisting park rangers with research projects and tours.
My next National Parks Service experience was completely different, but a memory I’ll treasure forever. I worked at The White House Visitor Center at President’s Park in Washington D.C during the last summer of Obama’s presidency. A lot of people don’t know the White House is part of the National Park System, but if you’re ever in D.C look for the Park Ranger hats all around. I helped at the starting point for White House tours, worked in the visitor center, and learned about safety regulations on park grounds outside. One of the best parts was helping make environmental educational material for kids and of course seeing Obama for an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn.
What’s your favorite National Park?
Can you remember your first camping trip?
My first camping trip was with my grandparents in Missouri or Illinois when I was pretty little. I’d catch tadpoles, release them, and swim in a beautiful lake alongside my sister.
What’s your favorite thing about camping?
It’s so wonderful being away from city lights and appreciating the beauty of nature. I love how quiet it is and how when you’re with a friend you can have thoughtful conversations without distraction. I went to Joshua Tree last year with my boyfriend Alex to watch a meteor shower and I felt so thankful to be able to camp and experience that.
You recently went to the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, CA. What did you love most about this campground? Any highlights from the trip?
Blue Sky Center has amazing shelton hut structures that are unique in design, but what’s even better is the mission Blue Sky is centered around. I was lucky enough to talk with one of the site members about sustainable agriculture and how they plan on connecting and empowering the rural community that’s so spread out.
The biggest highlight was running up and down their airplane runway (that’s mostly abandoned) with desert plants surrounding me and the mountains in close view. It felt like a movie! My boyfriend and I ran up and down it and also just sat and took in the amazing view.
Do you have any tips for how to be a more environmental conscious, eco-friendly camper?
Be careful about trash and don’t leave behind anything that wasn’t there before – especially things that aren’t readily biodegradable like plastic.
I hear you’re going to Hawaii next. Any big plans for the Big Island?
My boyfriend and I are taking on the Big Island of Hawaii and staying in this Eco-friendly renovated Hipcamp bus so we’re pumped! We’ll be snorkeling everyday, hiking, and catching a glimpse of flowing lava which will be surreal.