Christensen named department’s outstanding senior at Virginia Tech
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Brittany Christensen is the 2020 Outstanding Senior in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, the university announced.
Christensen grew up in an urban area but said she felt a call to living things, especially forests. She graduated recently after majoring in urban resources management with minors in urban forestry and watershed management.
In addition to her studies and extracurricular activities, Christensen worked the Hahn Garden on campus.
“My passion is creating a landscape that is aesthetically pleasing and environmentally functional,” she said in a telephone interview from her family home in Virginia Beach. “That’s why I loved working at the garden, making landscapes beautiful and making landscapes functional.”
Christensen pointed to her father’s backyard garden, an environmental success story in her home neighborhood and her studies and activities at the university.
“Dad was kind of into nature,” she said when talking about his vegetable garden, adding her mother liked the produce.
The Christensen home is near “Mount” Trashmore, a former landfill known worldwide as an environmentally successful project.
It consists of 165 acres that includes two man-made mountains, two lakes, two playgrounds, a skate park and vert ramp, and multi-use paths. This landmark was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil.
Christensen said the park is familiar to her and important as well. It is where she walks, Cookie, her dog. It also taught her that the environment can be restored in creative ways.
“Brittany, quite simply, exemplifies an outstanding student and is very deserving of this award,” said John Seiler, a professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. “She has a strong academic record and has been involved in numerous extracurricular activities and volunteer work, ranging from beekeeping to the restoration of Stroubles Creek.”
Some of the projects she was a part of during her years at Tech included working on urban forest hydrology and urban soil restoration with Dr. Susan Day, then an associate professor there. Her duties included helping collect data around Blacksburg.
“There were a lot of little jobs,” she said. She learned that there are many dynamics at play in dealing with these issues in urban settings.
One of her favorite projects to be part of was the Virginia Big Tree Program, working with Dr. Eric Wiseman, an associate professor who heads this state project. Its focus is to measure and register the biggest trees in the state.
Christensen said she measured about 30 trees during her work on the project.
She worked for three years at the Hahn Garden through the federal work-study program and called it a once in a lifetime experience.
In talking about the experience, she remembered it was real work. In the fall each year, she recalled, she raked a lot of leaves.
Christensen said she wants to continue her education and seek a graduate degree but wants to find employment in her field before going back to school. She believes this will give her a wider view of the opportunities and help her decide her future career path.
In the meantime, she is working in a family business, helping with bookkeeping.