Dean Campbell grew up in Palatka, Florida where the St. Johns River was his favorite playground. He graduated from Stetson University with a BS in Biology and attended graduate school at UF. He joined the staff of the St. Johns River Water Management District in 1978. In 1984, he became the Technical Program Manager for the Lower St. Johns River Basin SWIM Program and helped develop the Lower St. Johns River Basin Surface Water Improvement and Management Plan. He served in that capacity, leading a team of scientists working to manage and restore the Lower St. Johns River until his retirement in 2011.
It was while working at the Water Management District that he became familiar with William Bartram. Bartram’s book “Travels” provided the first scientific description of the ecology of the St. Johns River in its natural state and was used to help identify restoration goals. It also inspired him to organize and embark on a group quest to kayak the entire 310 miles of the St. Johns. Since his retirement he has enjoyed studying Florida history and the explorations of John and William Bartram, especially on the St. Johns River.
He currently lives on Cunningham Creek in NW St. Johns County where is dock is a brisk, 12-minute paddle downstream to the St. Johns River. His hobbies include model railroading, working on his 1972 Toyota Land Cruiser, photography, biking, kayaking and developing the Bartram Trail in Florida. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Bartram Trail Society of Florida and of the Bartram Trail Conference.