Boynton Beach, FL
Rebecca grew up in the California Bay Area, got her professional start in Madison, Wisconsin, and lived briefly in Mississippi before settling in South Florida about a decade ago. Coming from an interdisciplinary environmental background, she entered the sustainability field after launching herself into climate activism in response to the November 2016 election. When she started as the City of Boynton Beach’s first Sustainability Coordinator in 2017, she was thrilled to finally know what she wanted to be when she grew up! Always fascinated by the psychological and social effects of consumer culture, Rebecca completed her B.A. and M.S. in Sociology. As an undergraduate at U.C. San Diego, she worked as a wilderness guide and spent 50-plus days per year in the backcountry of the Sierra Nevadas. In graduate school, frustrated at times with the abstractions of Sociology, she longed to touch trees again and took some ecology classes, leading to a second M.S. in Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. Her graduate studies took her to the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior and to the rainforest of Belize where she investigated tourists’ interactions with wildlife and wild landscapes. After grad school, she stayed in Madison (who wouldn’t?) where she worked for a start-up environmental consulting company developing and managing sustainability programs for neighborhoods and businesses. Rebecca and Mark Harvey got married on a verdant farm in western Wisconsin, then moved to Starkville Mississippi and later to Florida. Mark is now a tenured professor of Sociology at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Rebecca’s first job in Florida was back in the academic realm: she led outreach and human dimensions research projects with a team of wildlife ecologists at University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. She caught a nine-foot alligator (once!) and a six-foot Burmese python (once!) but spent most of her time writing articles about invasive species management, carnivore conservation, and the relationships among environmental beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Rebecca is happy that her current job doesn’t entail catching alligators! And even happier that it involves constant learning and continual opportunities to effect positive change. She especially enjoys sharing information and collaborating with colleagues in other cities. Rebecca spends most of her free time playing and talking with her kids Evelyn (age 10) and Patrick (age 6). She loves family bike rides, campfires, and singing to her husband’s guitar.