Apparently Olmsted also experimented with gold mining and "scientific farming" before finding his calling. Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: the Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, explains that his background prepared him to be an early environmentalist:
"Olmsted was also a visionary in defining the aims of landscape architecture, including resource conservation and the preservation of places like Yosemite and Niagara Falls, though he often had to fight popular trends with varying success to do so. His initial proposal for Stanford University's campus recommended a scheme suited to native plantings for an arid climate, rather than one mimicking the popular aesthetic found on New England campuses that would require extensive watering. Unfortunately, much of the scheme was omitted in the actual construction."