Women Who Crush It: Jennie Porter

Meet Jennie Porter, a humble-hearted gal who is devoted to improving the connection of local food systems to local schools and institutions, all the while chiseling time out of her seven-day work week to play and explore. We recently connected with the New York native to hike Mount Hunger in Waterbury, Vermont, and chat about how she’s crushing it Monday through Monday!

Photography by Jennifer Langille
All photos credit: Jennifer Langille

goEast: OK, Jennie, you were a little nervous to “sit down” for this feature! Why is that? [Editor’s Note: There was no sitting, but instead, we joined Ms. Porter on one of her post-work adventures.]

Jennie: I don’t really consider myself as “crushing it.” I’m not particularly great at any one thing I do, be it climbing, skiing, hiking, etc. There are so many women out there who are truly “crushing” it at those things, and I greatly admire their commitment! As for me, I’ve always been interested in too many things to really become an expert in any of them. What’s important to me is living my life to the fullest, being as active as possible, being outside as much as possible, and doing work that I care about. As it turns out, it takes a lot of work and commitment to do all of that simultaneously!

Photography by Jennifer Langille

Photography by Jennifer Langille

goEast: Since I’ve met you, one thing stands out: Your incredible ability to seemingly do it all, working nearly seven days a week. While most are working for their days off, you equally work hard for the days in the office and time outside…Why?

Jennie: Basically, I work weekends, so that I can afford to do my weekday job and still do the things I love. Working as a Farm to Institution Coordinator at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, I’m committed to making our food system more just and sustainable, and unfortunately, at least for now, I have to work a second job to be able to do that during the week if I want to be able to do all the things I love, as well. So, at times, a second job becomes necessary, especially to afford staying active.

Photography by Jennifer Langille

goEast: I’m already in awe of how your professional line of work inspires you to work even more, but what inspires you to spend as much time outside as you seem to manage, day in and day out?

Jennie: OK, I may not answer this directly, but stay with me. I would say that rather than my day-to-day adventures being inspired by something, it’s my day-to-day adventures that inspire me. What I mean is, the reason for my adventures is inspiration for the rest of my life. When I’m standing on top of a mountain, gliding through powder, hanging off a rock face, or swimming in rivers, lakes, or oceans, that’s when I find inspiration. When I find myself in awe of nature, that’s when I experience pure bliss. Those moments are gold. They recharge me to go out and try to make the world a better place. They restore my faith in the world. They put my worries at ease. So, that feeling that I get from being outside and recharging my batteries—that’s my inspiration!

Photography by Jennifer Langille 

goEast: Now, Jennie, you are crushing it, whether you realize it or not! Something tells me it’s not as easy as it may seem. How do you stay motivated?

Jennie: I could never do what I do (i.e. working so much) without balancing it with outdoor adventures or exploration. I would go crazy! On days when I’m feeling less motivated, I try to remember how lucky I am to be able to do all of these things in my “backyard.” No matter how unmotivated I may be when I set out, I always feel better after. Oh, and I have such an amazing community of people here in Vermont, who inspire me on a daily basis! I am much less inspired by pros than I am by people in my own community who are crushing it as part of their regular life—people who prioritize being outside and make sacrifices to do the things they love. I have one adventure buddy in particular who tends to either go along with my crazy ideas, no questions asked, or puts forth her own absurd plans. She is someone who doesn’t blink an eye at the thought of hiking up Mansfield in the middle of the night to be as close as possible to the biggest supermoon in 70 years. That’s what you want in an adventure buddy!

Photography by Jennifer Langille

Photography by Jennifer Langille

goEast: You mentioned your “backyard” here in Vermont. What are some of your go-to places for a quick dose of being outside?

Jennie: Stowe Pinnacle is great to squeeze in before or after work and still pays off with a great view. On days when I’m in Burlington, I love roaming around the woods out at Rock Point. When I’m working in Montpelier, I sometimes run up Hubbard Park right behind the State House. It’s just a little hill, but it has lovely trails and a great view of our capital from the top! I’m so lucky to be able to get out into the “woods,” even if only for a short time, on my lunch break. It definitely helps break up the office work!

Photography by Jennifer Langille

goEast: Food plays an important role in your professional life. When you’re off and playing, what’s your go-to snack or meal?

Jennie: Nuts, seeds, dried fruit. City Market sells these amazing chia seed goji berry energy bites that I usually keep stashed in my pockets. And, I always always have spare O.W.L. Bars or Garuka Bars kicking around in my packs.

Photography by Jennifer Langille

Photography by Jennifer Langille

goEast: There also has to be at least one piece of gear you cannot live without. Care to share?

Jennie: A water vessel! Usually my CamelBak. I bring it everywhere—climbing, skiing, hiking, biking. I even wear it to festivals. I take hydration very seriously, as we all should, especially after being hospitalized in India for dehydration. Oops. My biggest packing regret on my trip to Asia this past year was not bringing my CamelBak. Now I know better! That thing never gets left at home. I keep it in my car, so I’ll always be ready. But, seriously, how can you keep adventuring and exploring if you’re dehydrated? I literally could not live without a water vessel.

Photography by Jennifer Langille

goEast: I know you don’t pay much attention to “professional” adrenaline junkies, but are there any adventure idols who kind of help light that fire and keep your imagination inspired on what’s possible?

Jennie: I’m mildly obsessed with Chris Burkard! Not only are his photographs absolutely stunning, but he goes to such incredible lengths to get them. If he can surf in the Arctic Circle, surely I can get out of bed and on a mountain when it’s only negative ten. His Instagram posts are daily reminders that it’s worth it to be a little (or a lot) uncomfortable!

Do you know a woman who crushes it? Get in touch or leave a comment!

Photography by Jennifer Langille