Hometown: Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Profession: Wilderness Survival Instructor
A latch-key kid, raised by a single mom, Jessie’s childhood environment was a pretty common one for the 80’s. An only child until the age of 10 she spent a lot of time on her own, outdoors whenever she had the chance. Also sadly common, she is a survivor of infant and childhood abuse; quiet and shy she preferred the company of trees and cats to people. Fire forges strong tools however, and like many other abuse survivors she was drawn toward opportunities to test her strength. With a dream of escaping to exotic places, she joined the Air Force. Instead, she found herself in Washington State a few months later, carrying a backpack almost as heavy as herself up and down mountains and learning to teach other people how to survive in hostile situations.
After putting in her four years of enlistment as a SERE Specialist (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape), Jessie finally got to travel and work overseas while getting a B.A in Educational Psychology. She also managed to have some outdoor adventures, usually while guiding others on recreational trips in Europe, sometimes while working as a wilderness therapy field guide in the states, and occasionally in the Colorado mountains that she now calls home. Rarely as an adult, has she had the opportunity to spend time in the wilderness alone, though as a child it was her refuge.
Since 2017 she’s worked as the head instructor for SERE Training School, which teaches the global survival and evasion techniques she learned and once taught in the military, now primarily to civilians. Her main passion is teaching women and marginalized demographics wilderness survival skills which she hopes to do through opening her own school: O.W.L.S. Skills (Outdoorsy Women Learning Survival Skills), in 2022.
Here are the ten items Jessie selected to bring on her survival journey to the remote wilderness valley in Labrador, Canada:
1. Sleeping bag
3. Ferro rod
4. Trapping wire
7. 2-quart pot
10. Bow and arrows