Jackie at Reid State Park, ME

I’m Not From Around Here

Jackie at Reid State Park, MEI grew up in a well-manicured suburb just north of Washington D.C. And I probably would have grown up thinking, like many of my peers, that “nature” was something to be watched on the Discovery Channel if it wasn’t for my father. He was always pausing to admire a tree or listen to a bird call.

My family often traveled when I was young to escape the sprawl of the city. When I was 13 we went on my first roadtrip north along the East Coast all the way to Acadia National Park, and then back south through the White and Green Mountains. I remember seeing etched in the landscape the vastness of time and space. I was humbled. Maybe it was the first time I had looked on the world as an adult. I picked up my first camera, one of those cheap disposables, and promised myself that I would one day come back.

Hello, my name is Jackie and I’m now 24 years old. I’m studying for my masters in Conservation Biology at Antioch University in Keene. I couldn’t be more thrilled by the opportunity to return to the beautiful parks of New Hampshire as a new contributing author to this blog.

I believe nature is our best chance of making a connection, both to the world and within ourselves. This summer I’ll be relying on my background in health and fitness, natural science, and photography to discover new connections for the mind, body, and spirit. I wish to enchant you with a full, five sense experience that captures the details and the big picture, too.

I’m not from around here, but I do consider New Hampshire my home. And whether or not you’re a native or just visiting, even if you live nowhere near New England, I’d like to hear from you, too. I hope you’ll share your own stories in the comment section below each post. And please feel free to email me your suggestions and thoughts, as well.

Thank you for taking the time to explore our magnificent parks with me this summer. I challenge you to pause and admire the trees and listen to bird calls, and to make some new connections of your own.


Jackie Raiford, New Hampshire State Parks Intern

I'm a graduate student working towards my Masters in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. My research interests include the conservation of urban green spaces for the physical and psychological health of communities. I lived for the first 24 years of my life in Rockville, Maryland just north of Washington D.C. I have traveled a little both domestically and abroad, and lived for six months in Australia. I also work as a dance and fitness instructor, and am certified by the American Council on Exercise.

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