Join us in welcoming our new OA Admissions Counselor, Jess Kusher!

Jess started as an Eagle’s Nest Camper some twelve years ago when she fell in love with Pisgah Forest. For her, summers were defined by the skills and friendships she developed though Eagle’s Nest, in particular through the whitewater canoeing and wilderness programs. After writing her Common Application college essay on her experience in Eagle’s Nest’s Junior Counselor program she attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. At Kenyon she majored in biology and film, with a minor in anthropology.

Defining moments of her college career included co-producing a feature film on queerness and race, studying climate change and a remote seabird in Canada, and studying the biocultural adaptations of humans through a Neanderthal lens. Jess credits much of her curiosity and passion for learning to the friendships she has shared with her teachers; and she is proud to bring students to The Outdoor Academy, where they can share in those bonds of collaboration and mentorship.

At Eagle’s Nest she has served as a garden intern, head cabin counselor, and whitewater canoeing director. Similarly, at the Outdoor Academy she will work as a back-up resident and wilderness instructor in addition to her admissions counselor duties. In her free time Jess loves to go trail running, paddle the Upper Green River, and geek out about birds. Her goals for this semester include writing more songs, baking lots of bread, and hiking the Art Lobe Trail in a day. You can contact her at