Urban Forest Initiative Cameron Luker UK Natural Resources and Environmental Science

I am a Natural Resource & Environmental Science and Agricultural Economics double major at the University of Kentucky in the class of 2021. I enjoy being involved with the various sustainability-oriented programs and groups on campus such as the Student Sustainability Council, the Student Government Association, and the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. I also work as an adventure trip leader for the Office of Outdoor Pursuits, which lets me share my love for nature, rock climbing, kayaking, and camping with others. After I graduate I would like to pursue a career as an outdoor educator to help people grow a healthier relationship with their environment.

Below is a short interview with Cameron:


How do the goals and objectives of Urban Forest Initiative align with your interests?

I’ve grown up in areas with and without healthy urban canopies, so I have gained an appreciation over my lifetime of how living near trees can influence our health and wellbeing. I am very interested in the new research coming out showing that proximity to trees can speed up hospital recovery time and help to alleviate effects of mental illness. I believe that showcasing these benefits can help to create healthier and happier cities, and at the end of the day, making people happy is my ultimate goal.


What excites you about working with UFI as part of this internship?

I’m looking forward to meeting members of the Lexington community who are passionate about our urban canopy and to see how they use their position, skills, and time to make it better. I’m sure that this will help me to learn about the various career opportunities that I may be interested in once I graduate. I’m also looking forward to working with the public and learning about their concerns and how their lives have been impacted by the trees around them.


How do you feel about trees?

I love trees. I’m a tree identification nerd, and I probably drive my friends crazy when we are hiking together and I stop every few minutes to check out a cool tree along the trail. I also think that trees can serve as a great bridge to other important topics. Thankfully, trees aren’t often a politically charged topic like many other environmental issues, and I would be hard pressed to find someone who outright doesn’t like trees. This means that a conversation about trees can be used to open up dialogue about other environmental problems such as climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species.