Tessa grew up in Missouri in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. She moved to Maine on a whim, and after eleven years couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. In Maine, she’s found a profound sense of belonging and community, which has become the bedrock for how she lives her life. She currently lives in Southern Maine with her partner and dog.
Tessa has worked in all facets of the food service industry: as a barista, bartender, caterer, festival vendor, and fixer-of-whatever-needs-fixin. Most notably, she assisted in opening and managing Maine’s first coffee shop and cannabis dispensary, Higher Grounds. Coffee was her first plant love, and opened her eyes to the disconnect between modern people and mindful consumption. Many people consume coffee daily, but couldn’t even tell you what the plant looks like. She realized that this mindset extended to almost everything we consume. This started her journey of educating herself and others on all things related to coffee and eventually expanded her interests to other plants.
Ten years in the service industry left her feeling unfulfilled and ready to change gears. She stepped out of her comfort zone and signed up for the Jack Mountain Spring Guide Training Semester in 2022. It was more than a little anxiety-inducing since she had been in a canoe only a handful of times and had hardly any practical experience with the rest of the curriculum. She really wasn’t sure if she could complete the course in one piece, but she signed up anyway.
Thankfully, she found all she was looking for and more. Her soft skills that she’d developed over the years translated seamlessly into outdoor education, and the hard skills could be attained with perseverance, a willingness to learn, a lot of humor, and a little moonshine.
Her first foray into instructing was the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. She assisted in teaching axe safety, firemaking, knots, and more. To date she’s poled and paddled the Aroostook, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and the East Branch of the Penobscot river. She then worked as in instructor on the fall Wilderness Bushcraft Semester.
Tessa hopes her story can help empower others to realize that they have what it takes to learn traditional skills. Even if you didn’t grow up participating in outdoor activities and you’ve never seen anyone that looks like you doing these things – you can do it. Her goal is to provide accessible outdoor education to all, but especially for folks who have typically felt like they don’t belong.
When Tessa isn’t busy making dad jokes at the field school, you can find her boogying to funky music, eating delicious food, rock climbing, hugging her dog, or really just doing anything with her close group of friends.