Cathy Campbell

Cathy Campbell

Volunteer at Boston Nature Center

“The Boston Nature Center has become a part of my family history.”

—Cathy Campbell

In the 1990s, when Mass Audubon was working to establish a nature center in Boston, we reached out to the Haley School in Roslindale looking for volunteers. Several parents of students at the school signed up, including Cathy Campbell of Roslindale. At the time, Campbell’s son, Chris, was in kindergarten at the Haley School, and her daughter, Caytie, was in preschool. Campbell welcomed a chance to help expand access to nature education and open space in the city for her children, as well as other residents of nearby neighborhoods. And fortunately for Mass Audubon, she found time in her busy life as a mother and labor attorney to join the advisory committee. Its first order of business was to help establish Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center, a 67-acre wildlife sanctuary in Mattapan, just two blocks from her son’s school.

Thanks in part to the work of this committee, which subsequently became the sanctuary committee for which Campbell has served as co-chair, much has been accomplished in the last 15 years. Highlights include establishment of a trail system that is mostly wheelchair accessible; programs reaching out to 40 schools and 230,000 residents within a two-mile radius; and, in partnership with the city of Boston, creation of the George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center, which models environmentally sound building practices.

“Whether she’s leading the sanctuary committee or designing bird crafts, Cathy is thoughtful, caring, and energetic,” says Julie Brandlen, Anne and Peter Brooke Director of the Boston Nature Center. “And she’s encouraged her entire family to become involved—mom, dad, siblings, and friends, too.”

“The Boston Nature Center has become a part of my family history,” says Campbell. “My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the nature center, and my family assists with the annual Rappin’ with Raptors festival.” Caytie and Chris, now in high school and college, grew up spending lots of time at this special urban sanctuary. Both Campbell and her husband, Jack Orrock, were Scout leaders, and they brought their children’s troops to take part in birdwatching and service projects. “Chris did his Eagle Scout project at the Boston Nature Center,” says Campbell, “building a ‘fish weir’ along the stream to trap trash and debris.”

Campbell is now a Mass Audubon board member, and, inspired in part by the sustainable design of the nature center, Caytie plans to become a green architect. Furthermore, both of Campbell’s children count on having open space nearby. “They have learned to appreciate the opportunity to enjoy nature in the city,” says Campbell. “That’s their expectation.”

-Ann Prince