Marathoner runs fundraiser for Woodwell Climate

Emma DeCamp, a 24-year-old design researcher and strategist in San Francisco, ran the Boston Marathon and decided to use her run to inspire people to support the Woodwell Climate Research Center (formerly Woods Hole Research Center). She not only finished the race in 3:38:38, she’s raised more than $4,900 for Woodwell Climate.

Woodwell Climate interviewed DeCamp about what inspired her campaign.

Have you run the Boston Marathon before? Why Boston?

This was my first Boston Marathon and my second marathon overall. I surprised myself last spring with a Boston Marathon qualifying time at the Napa Valley Marathon. I decided that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. No city gets more excited than Boston for Marathon Monday.

How did you get involved in climate activism?

When I was 15, I went on a seven-week backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. If I had to identify a point of origin for my environmental conscious, I would point here. We learned about the principles of Leave No Trace and the ecology of the Maine and New Hampshire portions of the Appalachian Mountains. At Middlebury College, I majored in environmental studies and nonfiction writing because I wanted to unlock scientific facts and tell stories about the everyday and long-term impacts of climate change on people.

Why support Woodwell Climate?

[Woodwell Climate] has large-scale scientific authority, yet the smaller size of the organization allows it to be agile, avoid bureaucracy, and affect change. [Woodwell Climate] is seated at the negotiating table, elevating science in Washington. I was confident that the money I raised would go furthest at [Woodwell Climate]. I connected directly with David McGlinchey and Emily Marshall on the communications team, which made my fundraising effort feel all the more personal.

How do you feel when you think about our climate challenge?

Our climate challenge feels overwhelming. I am discouraged by the current administration’s efforts to rollback environmental policy. However, I am encouraged by the fires lit under non-governmental organizations as a result. I hope my generation will commit as a collective to affect policy, live in closer harmony with nature, and ultimately eliminate emissions.

When you think about confronting climate change, is there any particular place you’re motivated to protect?

I am infatuated with islands. My family grew up going to the Thousand Islands in Upstate New York every summer. In college, I became interested in island ecologies and how they represent a microcosm of larger-scale phenomena. Islands, of course, are particularly at risk of sea-level rise. Already, islanders are adapting to sea-level-rise in resilient ways by restoring coastal habitats, floating their farms, and developing natural disaster response plans, but it’s heartbreaking to see rising seas encroach their shores. I wrote my senior thesis about early environmentalism in 18th-20th century British island literature. I concluded that by concentrating problems on an island, the authors were making a statement about the relationship between humanity and nature on a larger-scale.