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Jennie Lay


Jennie Lay writes from her off-the-grid log cabin at the rural edge of Steamboat Springs, a Colorado mountain community where skiing cowboys and hot springs set an inevitable trap for ski bums more than a century ago. Soon after college, Jennie too was lured by these natural wonders and boundless year-round adventures. She arrived for one winter of telemark turns and never left.

Jennie has written and reported on energy, the environment, land conservation, sustainable living and eating, the nuclear West, wildlife, art and culture, outdoor adventure and far-flung travel. Her work appears in High Country News, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Scuba Diving, Yoga Journal, Wilderness, Ski Magazine, 5280 and other publications. She brings her talents as a writer and editor to our communications endeavors, including travel tales she shares on Good Nature, the official travel blog of Nat Hab and WWF.

On past assignments, Jennie scuba dived with sharks in Denver’s aquarium, raced go-karts against real-life race car drivers, learned to surf with female pros in Mexico, practiced yoga on the rooftops of Marrakech, skied the Great Sand Dunes, explored the reefs of Turks & Caicos and tracked reintroduced lynx through the Rockies. Off the clock, she has spent her honeymoon trekking in Nepal and Tibet, danced her heart out in Guinean villages, hiked Swiss high routes, explored tropical paradises from Honduras to Vietnam to Hawaii, and communed with a Bengal tiger in India.

Jennie grew up in Los Angeles and earned a B.A. in political science from the University of California Berkeley, then a master’s in journalism, plus a graduate interdisciplinary certificate in environmental policy, from the University of Colorado Boulder. She spent a decade editing for Steamboat Magazine, a beautiful publication that looks at the environment, culture, lifestyle and recreation in northwest Colorado. Before that, she covered arts, entertainment and county politics for her hometown newspaper. And before becoming a journalist, she worked as a land trust grant writer, radio DJ, concierge, camp counselor and odd array of seasonal jobs that allowed her all the advantages of living in a ski town and harboring a chronic travel bug. 

Jennie’s passion for adventure is matched by her deep sense of awe for wild landscapes. On the heels of transformative visits with Churchill’s magnificent polar bears, the Galapagos Islands' bounty of endemic species and the mighty grizzly bears that roam the Katmai coast, she revels in sharing the diverse stories of Nat Hab’s conservation-minded wildlife expeditions. After her journey to East Greenland, she ponders the possibility that the dictionary definition of wilderness should just say Greenland, and wonders how she'll ever amass fierce enough words to relay the commanding presence of all that ice. Newton, a handsome bright-orange retriever, is her snuggly office companion and trusty trailmate who promises to hang close through the entire creative process.
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Jennie's Adventures
    Now what? So much salmon, so little experience. Fishing with a 7-month grizzly on the Katmai coast.Do you ever feel like you're surrounded? Bears everywhere on the remote Katmai coast.Some days, it's hard to decide whether to watch bears or salmon in Katmai National Park. Often, you get both.Welcome to the Shelikof Strait playground. It's wild.Grizzly watching life is chill on the Nat Hab Ursus.My bucket-list bird: puffins! Intruding on breakfast above a black sand beach in Iceland.Meet-ups with fin and humpback whales were anything but a fluke in the rich Arctic waters off East Greenland.Surreal icebergs reflect Caribbean hues in East Greenland's frigid Sermilik Fjord.That magic moment when you meet your spirit animal…whisker to mask in the Pacific with an acrobatic Galapagos sea lion.Puerto Ayora t-shirts say it best: I love boobies! Nurturing the next generation of blue-footed birds on North Seymour, Galapagos.Mother of Dragons—chillin’ with the fierce surfing marine iguanas of Española, Galapagos.In November 2016, I headed north to commune with the polar bears that roam Churchill’s frozen tundra. What magnificent creatures. What a stark and spectacular landscape. I’m in awe of the polar bears' fortitude—and worried about their peril.In November 2016, I headed north to commune with the polar bears that roam Churchill’s frozen tundra. What magnificent creatures. What a stark and spectacular landscape. I’m in awe of the polar bears' fortitude—and worried about their peril.In November 2016, I headed north to commune with the polar bears that roam Churchill’s frozen tundra. What magnificent creatures. What a stark and spectacular landscape. I’m in awe of the polar bears' fortitude—and worried about their peril.In November 2016, I headed north to commune with the polar bears that roam Churchill’s frozen tundra. What magnificent creatures. What a stark and spectacular landscape. I’m in awe of the polar bears' fortitude—and worried about their peril.In November 2016, I headed north to commune with the polar bears that roam Churchill’s frozen tundra. What magnificent creatures. What a stark and spectacular landscape. I’m in awe of the polar bears' fortitude—and worried about their peril.Turks and Caicos is a dreamy place to inhabit the underwater space. Traveling on an assignment for Scuba Diving Magazine, the uber-talented photographer Michelle Westmoreland snapped these photos as I was doing some investigative research for my story.Turks and Caicos is a dreamy place to inhabit the underwater space. Traveling on an assignment for Scuba Diving Magazine, the uber-talented photographer Michelle Westmoreland snapped these photos as I was doing some investigative research for my story.Time spent in Morocco, immersed in local food by day and rooftop yoga at sunset, was a special journey I made with my mom. We traveled from the High Atlas to the Sahara, from Marrakech souks to crashing waves at Essaouira.Time spent in Morocco, immersed in local food by day and rooftop yoga at sunset, was a special journey I made with my mom. We traveled from the High Atlas to the Sahara, from Marrakech souks to crashing waves at Essaouira.India is one of my favorite places on Earth – the people, the food, the sparkle of culture and spirituality, stark deserts and jungle-studded beaches. All of it. And one undeniable highlight? Face time with Bengal tigers in Ranthambore National Park.India is one of my favorite places on Earth – the people, the food, the sparkle of culture and spirituality, stark deserts and jungle-studded beaches. All of it. And one undeniable highlight? Face time with Bengal tigers in Ranthambore National Park.India is one of my favorite places on Earth – the people, the food, the sparkle of culture and spirituality, stark deserts and jungle-studded beaches. All of it. And one undeniable highlight? Face time with Bengal tigers in Ranthambore National Park.The opportunity to study traditional dance and drum while immersing myself in the people and the rural villages, hectic cities and tranquil islands of Guinea, West Africa? For me…priceless.I live in Steamboat Springs. If it’s winter and I’m not working…I ski. We’re pretty famous for our champagne powder in Steamboat, so why go anywhere else?
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