Western Parks to Eastern Trails: Jeannie Harsha
Though trails volunteer Jeannie Harsha arrived in Rockland only recently, Maine had been a magnet for many years. Jeannie grew up in Colorado where her family went camping in the mountains, every weekend trekking to remote spots far from public camping areas, hidden places discovered by her father in his work for the Forest Service.
Those experiences led her to the National Park Service where she worked at Mesa Verde, Navaho National Monument, Voyageurs, and North Cascades National Parks. She met her husband in the Park Service and raised their family in Yosemite, but always dreamt of working at Acadia.
While at Yosemite, Jeannie began volunteering at her children’s school, and quickly became credentialed and taught elementary school for many years, always incorporating the outdoors into her teaching.
Jeannie arrived in Rockland shortly before the pandemic shut most things down. Undaunted and seeking opportunities to get involved in her new community, she walked into the Land Trust office and offered her trail building and maintenance experience to Trails Manager, John Anders. But she didn’t stop there. She’s also an active volunteer for the Knox County Gleaners, where three times a week, she delivers excess produce from local farms to those in need. And she hikes! – exploring all the extensive trails available both near and far.
Jeannie’s experiences of nature inspired her to write. She recently published her second collection of poetry, Wandering Off: Nature’s Notable Nourishments. The following is a more recent poem, written as she savored and reflected on a wonderful day’s work on GRLT’s Oyster River Bog trail. She met some of the crew for the first time, finding kindred spirits who shared her appreciation for a perfect fall day spent in meaningful work, with the sounds and smells and colors of our world all around.
Trail crew work on an autumn day: Senses infused with muted sounds of chickadee and chipmunk 🐿 the visual pleasures of turning leaves 🍁 heightened by scent of pine; Cool air on our skin Yet all this is eclipsed by our joint histories of wandering and the minds gentle joy of “giving back”