Name: Jake O’Connell
Occupation: Outreach program manager at the Newcomb Campus, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Accomplishments: I recently took the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) class, and that was pretty rewarding. I feel a lot more prepared when I’m out and about in the Adirondacks now.
Favorite hike or adventure: Because of proximity I’m quite partial to Goodnow Mountain—I’m up there almost every week. I haven’t done this in a few years but one of my favorite paddles is down Hatch Brook and the Salmon River from Porcaville to Chasm Falls.
Favorite view: I love the view from the Mount Adams fire tower, specifically looking down on Upper Works and the old titanium mine.
What the Adirondacks can teach college students: The Adirondacks are a fantastic classroom for all students, K-12 and beyond. Students can, in a relatively small place, experience the interactions within and between natural and social systems, and the connections between ecology, history, art, literature and policy. Learning how interconnected our systems are and how to study them through that lens is a huge win for students.
Advice for getting through winter: Get out and hike! (Or cross-country ski, snowshoe, etc.) There’s so much for us to do, and there’s so much going on ecologically to witness and learn about. In addition to being physically active, check out your local education center and keep your mind active. Lots of neat things going on in the environment to learn about in the winter!
Why I love the Adirondacks: I love being able to easily transition between being in a tightknit, small community and experiencing large swaths of land to recreate in and feel away from everyday distractions.
Memorable wildlife experience: I saw my first moose in September while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake near the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area. The whole drive I was thinking the conditions were perfect for a moose sighting, then the driver in front of me slowed way down, and there was a calf moose in the road.
If I were in charge of the park: I’d love to see more resources put into visitor education, with an emphasis on folks recreating in a more sustainable and responsible way.