Washington Trails Association crew leader graduated with a bachelor’s degree and a dream of working outside.

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LeeAnne Jensen

What do you do? I work for Washington Trails Association, leading volunteers to build and maintain trails in the Puget Sound area. Before our events, to ensure a positive volunteer experience, I prepare tools and materials, scout trails to see where they need to be repaired and coordinate with land managers.

How did you get started in that field? In 2012, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and a dream of working outside. After graduation, I stumbled across the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, which was my intense two-month introduction to hand-building trails — and then I was hooked.

What’s a typical day like? In the morning, I greet the day’s volunteers and explain WTA’s rules of safety, fun and work, then we start hiking. Once we get to the project site, our tasks may include digging, rock or wood structure building, removing overgrown brush, fixing mud puddles, and overall improving the sustainability of the trail. It is inspiring how much a trail can transform throughout the day.

What surprises people about what you do? That I work outside year-round, rain or shine.

What’s the best part of the job? For me, it’s getting to see new volunteers connect with the outdoors in a way that they may not have expected when they first showed up that morning. Encouraging folks to embrace their inner child and, occasionally the mud, lets people get out of their daily comfort zones in a unique way. There are many rewards to physical work.

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