Friday, January 11, 2008

Jessica Terrell, 1977-2008

Two days ago, the natural resource world lost a staunch advocate, and many of us lost a sweet friend. Jessica Terrell, New Mexico State Parks' Trail Coordinator, worked tirelessly towards her goal of getting people into the outdoors, into native landscapes without compromising the integrity of them. She was a firm believer in the principles of Leave No Trace, a set of ethics that minimize one's impact on the natural world. She was a sweet, genuinely happy girl who felt most at home in the woods. Her smile was traffic-stopping, her gait and mannerisms were strong, confident. She regularly met her professional and personal goals by designing trails that minimized erosion and further destruction of the landscape.

She maintained a journal of her treks which you can read here. The following is from a 2007 journal entry. It captures her joy, her happiness, her gentle soul. While she strove to have minimal impact on the land, her impact on others, always positive, punctuated with a laugh and a smile, was strong.

My Favorite Day

… I know that when I return home, friends and family will be asking “So what was your absolute favorite place on the whole trek?”

What will I tell them? I will start out by saying that every day inevitably seemed better than the last. “Seemed” is the key word, you must realize.

If I were to mix up all the days of the trek and do it all over again, each new day would never cease to “seem” better than the one before it!

So I have come to the conclusion that TODAY will always be my favorite.

The dawn of each new day has and will continue to reveal to me things that have never before occurred, and never will occur again, whether it be a beautiful cloud formation over a particular mountain, the call of elk on a cool morning in a national forest, or even the way rocks glitter in the brightness of the afternoon sun.

Jessica Terrell


Anonymous said...

A week has gone by. Memories lose their vibrant edge of immediacy, the sharp song edge of voice fades, all moves to soft focus. Time hurdles away at break neck speed from the moment of being/nonbeing. And always the sun rises and sets unmoved by our tribulations played out under heartbreaking skies. Already the time for group commissary is gone, each now left to wonder on their own, to find places for all the homeless remembrances still aimlessly wandering the dark passages of our minds.
Another day dawns. I pick up my tools and move once more to my work...

Marcia said...

I am fingering the Christmas card Jessica sent to us--handmade as always, even the envelope which consisted of a beautiful calendar photo carefully and cleverly folded. A wonderful way to recycle the year's old calendar. Jessica was a bright and beautiful soul I met when she was on the American Frontiers journey with my husband, Richard. They were often confused as father and daughter because of the similarities of our names. Her death is a great loss to those who knew her and to those who benefitted from her work in the park service.

Anonymous said...

Eulogy for a Wilderness Soul

I was going to write something about the time we pitched our tents along the Rio Grande and how we were rewarded at our campfire by Javalina and deer, raccoon and quail come visit and how Jessica embodied the spirit of Parks at its best but that seems, upon reflection, better suited for a retirement party.

Instead let me say this;

There are many that believe in an afterlife, that have faith without proof.
There are those here too that don’t believe without proof which they can touch and measure.

Me, I’m somewhere in between.

But I know what I want to believe.

I want to believe that somewhere beyond the Pale
There is a great wilderness laced with trails and around every bend is a new wonder,
That you can hike all day long and not get tired
That I will go there and hike those trails
And one day I will crest a rise and there Jessi will be,
Sitting on a rock in one of her two hairstyles, behind the ear or in front,
Staring into the distance,
Mesmerized by a beautiful vista,
By the way the light plays upon the cliffs
Under heartbreaking skies

And we will talk once again in the way that we did and catch up on all that has happened.

A most extrodinary woman...

Anonymous said...

I have many fond memories of jessica, whether studying for vertebrate lab practicals or conducting analysis at the GCRL in MS while on a summer internship. Her magnetic, dynamic presense will always be a part of my soul and an inspiration to me as i continue my own journey through life.

Anonymous said...

jess was the best sister a brother could ask for, and a great and loyal friend. even though we had are arguments we always made up in the end. i have learned alot from her and still try to use her teachings in everyday life. she was and will always be here for me when i need her most and if i ever need a pick me up i can always think of something she did or said to me growing up. to all the little brothers please cherish every moment with your sisters no matter how good or bad they are because you never know when those times will come to an end. i love you jess and miss you alot love your little brother........chad

Allison Vaughn said...

We all miss her, Chad...I'm so sorry for you...