As a student athlete, Tyler Quinn Smith ’18 learned early on how to balance his time. It’s hard to imagine how the last four years would have gone otherwise. In addition to class attendance and hours of studying, Smith, a dual major in community and environmental planning and ecogastronomy, has been knee-deep in projects for both degrees while competing with the UNH ski team.
“I like to think of myself as a good representation of what a UNH student can be.”
Take the work he’s done through the UNH Planning Student Organization with First Impressions, an assessment program out of Cooperative Extension that helps area cities and towns see their communities differently and take steps to improve them. Smith and other club members have done analyses for both Dover and Somersworth, New Hampshire, evaluating everything from sidewalks to transportation to public facilities and landscaping, and then presenting the findings to city officials.
“Being involved with the club has been a great way to get experience,” says Smith, who serves as the group’s president. “It’s a way to test our planning knowledge and practice in the Seacoast community.”
Smith says he is drawn to the interdisciplinary aspects of community and environmental planning, adding there are “so many bits and pieces that come together — housing, transportation, energy use.”
“How do you do it all, know it all,” the Park City, Utah, resident says. “There are so many interesting parts: urban design, walkability, community development. Having been around New England and seen and lived in some of the mill towns and witnessed how they’ve been revitalized, you can see how important historical character is to New Englanders. That’s a cool challenge.”
Then there’s Smith’s involvement with Slow Food UNH and the four farmers markets he helped stage at the MUB this year for his senior capstone project. The effort was another step in the creation of a sustainable food culture at UNH, an area of interest that led to his ecogastronomy major.
“If our food system in the U.S. wasn’t such an industrial machine, there would be more local food system support,” Smith says. “As it is, local producers are overshadowed and underrepresented. It’s one thing to get the physical systems in place. The psychological paradigm of getting people to eat local is another thing. Farmers markets are only a small part of the solution.”
Smith took three years off between high school and college to ski with the U.S. Development Team for Nordic Combined that trains elite athletes. Since his first year skiing for UNH, he has made the student athlete honor roll. “I think I surprised myself,” Smith says. He has been named to the National Collegiate Ski Coaches Association All-Academic Ski Team all four years.
“It could easily have been overwhelming, but I’ve been fortunate. I don’t know if it’s the lifestyle of the sport or the people I surrounded myself with, but it worked,” Smith says. “I like to think of myself as a good representation of what a UNH student can be.”
An advanced degree in planning is likely in his future. Smith says there is still so much to learn. He is interested in landscape architecture, urban design and regional planning. Ideally, he sees himself “rooted in a community and being part of sustainable solutions.”
“That’s the most valuable part of planning, seeing a project through,” he says.