Austen Bernier

Job Title

Community Engagement Coordinator - White Mountain National Forest

What did you do prior to working at NFF?

I’m a recent college graduate, so I’ve spent the last four years at the University of Colorado in Boulder pursuing my degree in Environmental Studies. While at university, however, I worked for the full four years at the Environmental Center on campus doing primarily Volunteer and Event Coordinating, but also as an Office Assistant and an Energy Technician. Recently, I worked with the GrowHaus Urban Farm, a non-profit in Denver that works to create food security in a food desert. There I facilitated workshops for students of all ages.

When I moved back to New England after school, I took a month to thru-hike the Long Trail, a 273 mile trail that runs the length of Vermont, before starting my work with NFF.

What inspired you to work for our National Forests?

I grew up in the White Mountain National Forest and many of my first memories are of hiking, swimming, and camping inside it. My relationship with “my mountains”, as I say, is central to my identity as a person and as a New Hampshirite. When I found this position, it struck me as the perfect opportunity to engage professionally with a forest and a community that I love very dearly. At the NFF, I am in a unique position to help care for my own backyard and my own neighbors in a way that is brand new and exciting. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity.

What sorts of things will you be working on at the NFF?

I will be building community support and engagement in NFF projects in the communities that surround the White Mountain.This includes expanding our partnerships with local businesses and organizations, fundraising, putting on community events, recruiting volunteers, and facilitating the development of community capacity for long-term collaborative stewardship in the White Mountain National Forest.

What is your favorite National Forest memory?

For a few years some old friends and I had a tradition of doing a 2-day backpacking trip every January shortly after the new-year. We went up to the Harvard Cabin in Tuckerman’s Ravine one year, another year we did Mt. Carrigain, and another year we did Bondcliff, Bond, Guyot, and Zealand. I love the WMNF in winter, when there are considerably less hikers and the world is silent, and winter camping is some of the best type 2 fun you can find!

What National Forest would you like to visit?

I would love to visit the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington. I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest and I’ve always been curious what the other northern corner of our country looks like. I’ve also never seen a glacier and have heard amazing things about climbing/skiing Mount Baker.

National Forest Foundation