In the Field: Alumni Making a Difference through Parks

Tom Blackwood MS’77 

Tom Blackwood enjoys parks so much he decided to live in one. As the superintendent of Door County’s Peninsula State Park, Blackwood resided in the park’s “state house,” with his wife, Joan, and their two children, Sarah and Matt  — fortunate to call Wisconsin’s most popular camping destination their backyard for 23 years. Blackwood was drawn to a career in parks by his inherent curiosity in the unexplored. “I was always enamored with ‘what was out there,’ the roadless patches on the state map — all those beautiful, natural areas,” Blackwood says. His time spent at UW–Madison began as an undergraduate majoring in psychology but took a quick and meaningful turn after graduation. Involvement with the Department of Forestry and the Department of Wildlife Ecology (now merged as the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology) led him to pursue a master’s degree in recreational resources management. Post graduation, Blackwood built his resume through seasonal positions at Effigy Mounds National Monument, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and Wyalusing State Park, after which he was accepted into the Park Manager Trainee Program with the Wisconsin State Park System. “The rest is history,” he says. Blackwood retired from Peninsula State Park in 2010 after celebrating its 100th anniversary. Though officially retired, he still spends much of his time hiking, biking, and skiing the trails of Door County and serving on the board of directors of the Door County Land Trust. During the summer months, he shares his extensive knowledge of the area’s land, water, wildlife, and history giving group boat tours on the bay and its islands.

Claire Campbell MS’15  

Originally from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Claire Campbell describes herself as an energetic and outdoorsy child. “I was always the kid that was out playing in the woods,” she says. “From bugs and plants to my first summer job flipping rocks in streams and chasing salamanders for a species inventory in East Tennessee, I was fascinated by the big picture — how and why do our natural systems end up the way that they are?” Her love for the outdoors led her to complete her undergraduate degree in earth and environmental sciences at Furman University. In addition to her studies, Campbell interned on a local farm where she studied soil carbon management and volunteered for Grand Canyon National Park. “I came to love the complexities of how soil forms, how we manage it, and what options exist to protect soil systems,” Campbell says. She then came to UW–Madison to reinforce her passion with a graduate degree in soil science. She explored the role of nutrient management and agricultural efficiencies in healthy soil, which was integral in helping her realize her desire to work in the public sector. Campbell set her eyes on a job with the U.S. Forest Service and received an offer from Montana’s Lolo National Forest the same day she defended her master’s thesis. Since moving to Montana, Campbell has enjoyed checking off adventures in her 600-page book of hikes and backpacking trips near Missoula. Her favorite thus far is a bike ride up Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Ethan Lee BS’14  

Is your tree in need of a checkup? Certified tree doctor and UW–Madison graduate Ethan Lee may be able to help. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lee attended UW–Rock County, where he spent three years studying mechanical engineering before transferring to UW–Madison and ultimately majoring in forestry. Upon graduating, Lee chose to give back to his childhood community by using his skills to enhance Janesville parks. He accepted a job as the parks and forestry coordinator for the City of Janesville Parks Division. He is also an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist. Lee’s day-to-day work schedule is anything but consistent, with tasks ranging from individual tree assessment and forest health to installing new playgrounds and engaging in community outreach. “I feel extremely lucky and honored to go to work every day with a smile on my face and look forward to all the new challenges,” Lee says. “I love my job and my community, and for that, I am very grateful.”

Jill Peters BS’14  

Communications may not be the first field that comes to mind when you think of careers in Rocky Mountain National Park, but it’s reality for Jill Peters. She grew up on Sand Island, a part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where she was immersed in the outdoors from a young age and gained a deep appreciation for the natural world. When it came time to choose a degree, Peters was stuck between pursuing her knack for writing, photography, and outreach and her passion for science and the outdoors. Thankfully, she found the perfect marriage of her interests through the life sciences communication major at UW– Madison. After graduating, Peters headed straight to Fire Island National Seashore along the coast of Long Island, New York, where she explored both research and communications positions. In May 2017, she applied and was accepted as the new biological science technician at Rocky Mountain National Park. Here, Peters has been able to continue her multifaceted career by participating in and communicating the latest scientific research in one of the planet’s most picturesque places. “Getting to be in the mountains, participating in all sorts of science research, and then playing a role in making the complexities of that science accessible to the public is a challenging and rewarding experience,” Peters says. “It’s truly the best of both of my passions.”

David Powell MS’75  

Recognizing his interests in nature and recreation, David Powell created his own undergraduate degree program at Carleton College to prepare him to pursue further education in outdoor design. Upon graduation, Powell headed to UW– Madison to obtain his master’s degree in landscape architecture and kick-start his career. With this education to guide his craft, he returned to Canada, settling in Saskatchewan to work as the chief landscape architect for the province’s Parks Service and eventually opening his own landscape architecture firm. Powell has worked in private practice for more than 25 years and shows no sign of slowing. The reward of creating living landscapes and watching them grow and change over time keeps Powell energized and inspired. In the midst of his success, he recognizes his time in Madison as his design awakening. “UW–Madison exposed me to ways of understanding and appreciating natural systems, which have forever framed the way I look at the world,” Powell says.

Pamela Schuler BS’80  

As the Ice Age National Scenic Trail manager for the National Park Service, Pamela Schuler works with public and private partners to oversee and carry out federal requirements to plan, acquire land for, develop, and interpret the 1,200-mile Wisconsin trail. Schuler became involved with the Ice Age Trail as a horticulture major working as an intern through the Department of Landscape Architecture. Upon graduation, she gained recognition for developing the trail through various positions with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which led to her current position. Though she began as a landscape architect, Schuler stresses how much collaboration and community involvement are required to build and maintain the trail. Her life’s work continues to pay off in a beautiful and visible way. “The Ice Age Trail reaches into communities to bring urban residents and children out into nature, provides an outstanding hiking experience that educates the public about our glacial past, and restores ecosystems along its footpath while connecting public lands across the state,” she says.

Jon Adams-Kollitz BS’89  

Jon Adams-Kollitz’s interest in urban parks has taken him around the world. While pursuing his undergraduate degree in landscape architecture at UW– Madison, he took advantage of every possibility he could. “I was floored by the sheer amount of options and possibilities UW offered,” Adams-Kollitz says. He focused his studies on architectural history and cultural geography and later became involved with Madison’s sustainability organization, Sustain Dane. Upon graduating with his BSLA, Adams-Kollitz spent the summer in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Washington, D.C., inventorying and documenting historic landscapes for a survey. After launching Formecology, an ecological/ artistic design build firm in Madison, he continued his education at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, where he focused on sustainable urban design. In 2007, Adams- Kollitz settled in Burlington, Vermont, where he works as the parks project coordinator for the Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront Department. He is now focused on designing and implementing an ecofriendly and universally accessible playground and on rehabilitating Burlington’s iconic eight-mile waterfront bike path, efforts that earned him the first ever Mayor’s Award for Innovation in 2016.

Caitlyn Busche

BS’14 • Caitlyn Busche was drawn to dietetics because of its “relatable nature,” she says; she enjoys working in a rare branch of health care where patients can see, feel and understand both the processes and results of treatment plans. At Chicago’s Northwestern Medicine, she is able to do just that. There Busche works with oncology patients to improve chemotherapy and radiation-related side effects through dietary modifications. As an undergraduate at CALS, Busche worked as a lab research assistant, which taught her how fascinating and exciting nutrition research could be. These early experiences gave her the foundation in research that has been instrumental in providing evidence-based medical nutrition therapy to her patients in the ever-changing field of oncology nutrition.

Amy Giffin

BS’09 • Coming from a family of cheesemakers, it was no surprise that Amy Giffin began her college career in food science. She planned to follow in her family’s footsteps, but after a guest dietitian spoke at her freshman-year nutrition class, she had a change of heart. “I realized that I also wanted to apply the science of food and nutrition to help others,” says Giffin. Now she manages the menus of students in the Sheboygan Area School District as the school nutrition supervisor. There she has the opportunity to work with students to develop meals that are nutritious and tasty. In her free time Giffin is on a quest to make cooking “fun and fearless” through her nutritional food blog, Eat Right Cook Tonight (eatrightcooktonight. com). Giffin is thankful for the inspiration and education she received at CALS and for the lifelong Badger community that comes with any UW–Madison degree, she says.

Ellya Hillebrand

BS’10 • Elya Hillebrand’s path through dietetics led her to a successful career in the military. After earning a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from CALS, Elya Hillebrand joined the U.S. Army. During her six years of service, she earned a master’s degree in dietetics from Baylor University and held many nutrition-related positions, including, most recently, director of food and nutritional services. In that position Hillebrand discovered her knack for management, and she recently decided to leave the military to pursue a career in food service management.

Bridget Reineking

BS’04 • As the global associate director for training and development at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., a California-based biotech company specializing in drugs treating genetically based diseases, Bridget Reineking is responsible for educating the company’s global medical affairs team. In this position she ensures that employees are trained as experts in BioMarin’s many projects and are able to accurately communicate the company’s scientific advancements to the public. During her time at CALS, Reineking gravitated toward positions involving education and development. “It is a beautiful thing to travel down the path of knowledge with an individual,” says Reineking. In the midst of a successful career, Reineking looks back and attributes her strong communication and organizational foundation to her time spent at CALS.

Samantha Schmaelzle

BS’10 MS’13 • After spending seven years completing both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dietetics and human nutrition at CALS, Samantha Schmaelzle couldn’t imagine starting her career anywhere else. Numerous internships and research opportunities, including fieldwork in Zambia, opened up countless job opportunities for Schmaelzle after graduation, and ultimately landed her a job with UW Health. As an outpatient clinical dietitian with UW Health’s Surgical Weight Management Clinic, Schmaelzle works to educate morbidly obese patients on nutritional needs and lifestyle changes in preparation for bariatric surgery. The long-term, personal work with patients makes their progress and recovery very rewarding, says Schmaelzle. “My patients are my favorite part of my job,” she says. “Their motivation, energy, successes and positive changes keep me going every day.”

Patrick Solverson

BS’09 MS’12 • Could blackberries help cure obesity? Patrick Solverson is on the path to find out. As a researcher with the USDA’s Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland, Solverson studies various diets and their effects on human health. Currently his focus is on anthocyanins, compounds found in blue and purple fruits and vegetables, and their potential to curb the effects of high-fat diets. Solverson’s passion for dietetics stems from his own struggle with weight as a child. He learned the benefits of nutrition and exercise early on, which changed his life and sparked his interest in this field. “Nutrition is the staple of life every single one of us must address multiple times a day,” notes Solverson. “It’s unavoidable, powerful, and if harnessed correctly, can be so rewarding.” In his free time Solverson enjoys staying fit through sports and weight lifting, and staying current in research by reading science articles with his cat, Allister.

Bridget Stroup

BS’11 • Bridget Stroup chose a career in dietetics because of her passion for learning and improving lives. Stroup currently is a registered dietitian earning her Ph.D. in nutritional sciences at CALS while working in the lab of professor Denise Ney. There Stroup’s research concerns phenylketonuria, or PKU, a disease that restricts processing of the common amino acid phenylalanine, which is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, dairy and grains. Individuals with PKU have limited food choices and must receive key nutrients from unpleasant-tasting amino acid medical foods that often come with equally unpleasant side effects. Stroup is working to develop and promote an alternative, known as glycomacropeptide (GMP) medical foods. GMP medical foods, made from whey protein, offer a low- phenylalanine, whole protein medical food option that is effective and more palatable. Stroup loves the collaboration and constant educational journey that her research at CALS provides.

Mascha Davis

BS’06 • Born in Ukraine, Mascha Davis fled with her family to the United States as a political refugee in 1990. Her family settled in Madison, Wisconsin, in search of their own American dream. She attended CALS, majoring in nutritional science, and she later earned a master’s degree in public health at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a refugee, Davis has always been drawn toward helping impoverished nations, an interest that led her to pursue a career abroad. She worked in Geneva, Switzerland, and in five different African countries, where she focused on programs preventing malnutrition. Today Davis is putting her years of education and experience to great use through her own private dietitian practice, Nomadista Nutrition. There she educates clients on such topics as healthy eating and weight loss. She also is working on a book, Food Myths, that will be released at the end of 2017. Davis works part-time as a dietitian for Satellite Healthcare in Los Angeles, and she is a featured health writer for the Huffington Post.

Michelle Trumpy

BS’03 • Michelle (Flatt) Trumpy settled on dietetics as a profession while she was still a teenager. “I was referred to a registered dietitian in high school to improve my own nutrition and quickly realized dietetics would be a great career choice for me,” she says. “The mix of science, nutrition and helping people was a perfect fit.” After completing an internship and working as a clinical dietitian at UW Hospital, Trumpy earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. As a registered dietitian at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, The Emily Program and with two public school districts, Trumpy has done extensive work with children and families. She now serves as the administrative manager at the Dakota County Public Health Department in Minnesota. A recipient of the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award from the Minnesota Dietetic Association in 2011, Trumpy remains an active volunteer for her profession with the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Feeding Matters, a national nonprofit that addresses pediatric feeding disorders.

Ezra Schwartzberg

Ezra Schwatzberg

PhD’11 • Ezra Schwartzberg is the founder and director of Adirondack Research, an ecological and environmental consulting firm based in Saranac Lake, New York. Established in 2012, the firm focuses on social science, climate change and invasive species. The company’s tag lines—“We use science to inform decisions” and “We communicate science to influence policy”—describe its mission to use science for decisionmaking and for policy. Schwartzberg originally began his career in academia, with degrees from multiple universities around the country. It wasn’t until his postdoctoral research work at CALS that he gained the confidence to break off and start his own business, he says.

Michael Hillstrom

Michael Hillstrom

BS’03 PhD’09 • With a BS, a PhD, multiple research positions and postdoctoral work behind him, Michael Hillstrom has certainly put in his time at CALS. As a boy Hillstrom had always been fascinated with bugs, which made his decision to pursue a degree in entomology relatively easy. During his time at CALS he spent much of his free time volunteering for the Insect Ambassadors outreach program, which brings bug “show-and-tell” presentations to schools and other venues, and eventually he was elected program director. Through the Insect Ambassadors, Hillstrom discovered a passion for education and outreach. The experience also solidified his love for insects and the outdoors. Upon graduation, Hillstrom took a position as a forest health specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. There he works in the diverse forests of Wisconsin to control insects and diseases across Wisconsin and serves as a public leader for insect management.