I am so thrilled to join Eagle’s Nest Foundation and the team here at The Outdoor Academy. Our mission to promote “the natural world and the betterment of human character” is vital to strengthening our communities and caring for the environment. We do that through experiential education of the highest caliber I have seen. I feel so lucky to join this stellar group of educators and to help make this kind of transformational learning available to even more young people.

Throughout the spring I joined Semester 56 in the field, on campus, at their dinner table, and in countless circles. The strength of the OA program is evident in the engagement of students with their learning and in the responsibility they show for their community. The faculty and staff have welcomed me fully into their end-of-year debrief, work crews, and planning conversations. And I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work closely with Glenn and to celebrate his tenure as OA Director with the entire Eagle’s Nest community. Thank you, Glenn, for showing me the ropes and for laying so much groundwork for a successful OA future.

My family and I come to Eagle’s Nest from Vermont after a year on the road exploring interesting natural places and reconnecting with far-flung friends and family. Our three kids have embraced the campus here as their new backyard and have eagerly joined Eagle’s Nest Camp this month. In Vermont we ran Smokey House Center, an educational nonprofit organization focused on conservation and agriculture, stewarding a 5,000-acre property in the Taconic Mountains. We were also a founding family of our local community school where my partner Laura – an experienced environmental educator – also served as an Assistant Teacher. As alums of the Audubon Expedition Institute, Laura and I are no strangers to the benefits of an immersive, supportive learning community. We’ve committed our professional lives to promoting just such meaningful learning in the environmental context and see OA and Eagle’s Nest as exemplars of the best kind of education.

Indeed, The Outdoor Academy program is so strong. We have top-notch faculty ensuring academic rigor through our integrative, interdisciplinary curriculum (Intellect). Our residential life team works tirelessly to support the social-emotional health of our students in this unique boarding environment (Community). Our outdoor programing introduces challenge and adventure as a tool for personal growth – on the trail, on the rocks, and on the water (Environment). And the integration of local cultural history and traditional skills infuses our daily lives and roots us to this special landscape (Craft). In my brief onboarding here, I’ve heard over and over again what many of you already know: OA changes lives.

Looking ahead, my work – our work – is to change even more lives through this incredible program. As we increase and diversify our enrollment in the coming years, I’d love to hear from you about how OA has changed your life or your teen’s.

Please keep in touch,

Jesse (jesse@enf.org)