Amy Lindholm’s Alumni Story

A walk in the woods leads to a life of conservation activism 

Amy Lindholm’s Camp Fire experiences took her on a career path she never could have imagined…one through the woods.  

An early encounter with a quiet forest trail eventually led Amy to her current role as Director of Federal Affairs, Conservation Funding, for the Appalachian Mountain Club and the National Coordinator of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  

Amy’s parents were “working-class city kids” who moved to the suburbs. She didn’t grow up with any regular outdoor practices beyond camping with her high school buddies, which makes her a bit of an anomaly in the environmental nonprofit world.   

“When I got into this work, I noticed how many of the people around me were hardcore outdoor enthusiasts,” said Amy. “It skews backcountry badass—backcountry campers and whitewater kayakers. I love them, and I’ve stretched myself in that area. But I definitely did not grow up in that environment.” 

“We had a town forest right behind the house, but I grew up watching that slowly disappear,” said Amy. “The work I do now centers on making sure there’s enough funds for conservation to expand or protect green space.”  

How did she go from a bookworm in the ‘burbs to a passionate protector of nature? Her first deep experiences with nature were with Camp Fire. 

“I give a ton of credit to Camp Fire for leveling the playing field for somebody like me,” said Amy, “I had a lot of privilege (I’m white, my parents were working class but kind of rose up), but I didn’t have the outdoor opportunities that most of my colleagues had growing up.”  

She joined Camp Fire in elementary school and began attending Camp Nawaka in East Otis, Massachusetts, in the summers. As a 7-year-old, Amy went to a four-day camp, then returned every summer for longer and longer, until she was staying for three weeks at a time in middle school.  

Photos of Camp Fire from the 1980's wit the Cam Fire logo from that era

Camp Nawaka closed in 2009, but its impact lives on. As a first-year camper, Amy says a long forest walk from the camp’s dorms to athletic fields changed her relationship with the outdoors.  

“I remember walking up that long hill through the woods, and it was very dense,” said Amy. “You got to a point where you couldn’t hear anybody. You’re far enough from the lower camp and the athletic fields that all you hear is the wind and the trees. It was very intimidating to me, and I was proud of myself for being brave enough to walk up there by myself.  

“I remember the feeling of calm and realizing I didn’t have to be afraid of the loneliness or isolation. I could handle it. It was a really empowering experience.” 

Amy and her kids exploring outdoors

Amy’s camp experiences raised her outdoor confidence as a “reasonably athletic but not particularly adventurous” kid. She’s carried that attitude forward into her adulthood. She and her family live in Vermont now, where they don’t have a local Camp Fire affiliate, but they do have other scouting programs that her children are involved in. Recently, she climbed Mount Hunger with her son’s scout troop and leaned into that Camp Fire confidence.  

“The kids left me in the dust. I just hadn’t been out enough,” laughed Amy. “I was like, ‘I cannot keep up with these people.’ I told the leader, ‘I’m a very experienced hiker, I know where we are, go ahead.’ I had a very lovely solo hike.”  

Amy also canoes, kayaks, snowshoes and is beginning to cross country ski, too. She reflected on the way Camp Fire taught her how to persevere toward goals and pass on what she learned.  

“They gave you progressive responsibilities and leadership opportunities,” said Amy. “By the end of it, I felt like I was the experienced camper and had something to offer others.”  

As a teenager, Amy wanted to become an English professor, but high school biology trips to the area’s vernal pools sparked her interest in field science. She ended up doing a dual degree in environmental studies and government at Connecticut College, then working at the Justice Department in the Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives.  

From there, The Wilderness Society recruited her to work on a campaign for the LWCF, a collaborative effort to conserve land and outdoor recreation opportunities across the country. When Amy recently moved back to New England, she brought that work to another LWCF Coalition partner, the Appalachian Mountain Club.  

“It’s a really interesting, diverse federal funding program that empowers different conservation tools and projects,” said Amy. “I help coordinate the LWCF Coalition to bring together many stakeholders — timber companies, conservative hunters and anglers, land trusts, traditional environmental advocates and everybody in between.”  

LCWF Coalition website homepage

Much of the work Amy does is figuring out how to tailor the conservation message to the many, many different people and organizations needed to accomplish the LWCF Coalition’s objectives. It took years to work toward what seemed like an impossible goal: Getting permanent, dedicated funding for the LWCF written into law. In 2020, the coalition succeeded with a bipartisan effort, ensuring $900 million a year through the Great American Outdoors Act.  

“Bringing those groups together—so we’re all working toward the common goal and understanding that it’s all part of the same solution—has been really heartening,” said Amy. “I do think that amazing things are possible, but I saw the years of work that went into it.”  

Amy now channels that determination into making sure LWCF funds are flowing more equitably.  

“It’s incredibly challenging,” said Amy. “I have seen the outdoors bring people together across the political spectrum in this incredible way, but there are still ways that people of color and people with disabilities don’t feel welcome in outdoor spaces, and we are working really hard to change that.”  

She encourages young people who are working on climate and environmental justice issues to have hope, stay positive and keep at it: When you put in the groundwork, breakthroughs will come.  

“You just keep pushing,” said Amy. “It’s kind of like water flowing over a rock. You just keep going, a tiny bit at a time. And then you get to a point where there’s a soft spot in the rock, and big things can happen.”  

July 1, 2024

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