Roxie Campbell: “If we don't take care of it, we will lose a lot of our natural biodiversity and ecosystem health.”
Roxie Campbell is a naturalist at Rock Bridge State Park who spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at the State Fair in August.
She spoke about the vulnerability of our natural resources and Missouri’s long-standing tradition of sharing them.
Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.
Roxie Campbell: You know, growing up on the farm, I got to play outside a lot, you know, going up in the fields, in the woods, and I had treehouses and climbed trees and just explored, and of course, I developed a love of nature that is strong and has been with me all these years.
I enjoy going floating on Missouri's Ozark rivers. That's like, my most enjoyable activity – kayaking on the Current River.
I get in the water with my goggles and watch the fish and I've always enjoyed swimming. My mom and dad put in two ponds the year I was born, and my mom said she thought if they let me go, I would have been swimming at six months.
Well, one thing I have worked with for years through my job is to help people understand that you know how vulnerable like our caves, streams are to water pollution, and so proper use and management of chemicals and other pollutants like sediment.
And so, I'd like folks to understand that and be willing to do things to take care of our waterways.
One of the things I'm concerned about as a park naturalist is invasive plants, and I'm really concerned that they will harm our natural ecosystems, and for those who do work at controlling them, it takes a lot of time and money.
"My mom and dad put in two ponds the year I was born, and my mom said she thought if they let me go, I would have been swimming at six months."Roxie Campbell
It's really necessary for people to become educated about that and work on it, because that's a threat we didn't used to have, and if we don't take care of it, we will lose a lot of our natural biodiversity and ecosystem health.
Yeah, I understand there's stereotypes that go way back as far as like the “Ozark hillbilly,” you know, not intelligent, and that's just not true. They're independent thinkers, but they're intelligent and just as educated as anywhere else.
My mom talked about her dad being really good at math even though, you know, he just had an eighth-grade education. During the Depression there was a drought year in 1936 – people were like cutting weeds and brush to feed the livestock, and that was disappearing.
And so, he drove to Illinois and bought straw and brought that back.
He would have the neighbor boys cut little hickory sprouts and load them up and hauled them to a factory that made pipes, you know, for smoking, and years later, one of those boys told my mom that money from that was what fed them for some time, you know, that winter.
So, it was important and, you know, helped out people in the community.
And, you know, that reminds me of my dad talking about his dad giving people firewood when they needed it – which one winter sort of teed him off because he and his brothers had worked hard cutting that firewood, you know, and then his dad's just giving it away.
But he also mentioned a lot of people at his dad's funeral because they appreciated that kind of generosity.