Johnny Ray & Jasper interview Jenna about the full-scribe log cabin she built with the Steger Wilderness Center summer residents and Summit Academy students after the great windstorm of 2016, which felled hundreds of trees in the area.
Jenna Pollard came up to the Steger Wilderness Center during the summer of 2009 after completing her junior year at the College of Saint Benedict. In 2013, she was an apprentice stonemason and volunteered for some time during the summer of 2015. During her last visit to the center, she asked Will for a position with more responsibility, and was offered the Summer Residency Program Manager position.
Growing up in Kimball, South Dakota, Jenna started building things from a young age. As she grew older, she learned how to do timber framing through DreamAcres Farm in southeast Minnesota, which has led her to take on several timber framing projects, including building her own small cabin on the prairie in South Dakota.
Prior to becoming the Residency Program Manager, Jenna used to bartend. During her shifts, she developed the nickname “Paddle” due to her all-too Minnesotan responses to customer inquiries.
Jenna is excited to go on weekend canoe trips with residents, staff and apprentices, swim in Pickett’s Lake every day, sauna twice a week and most of all: collecting berries! “I hope to take advantage of every opportunity to play, learn and grow this summer. I want to develop my community-building skills, push myself physically, challenge my problem-solving skills and spend as much time as possible quietly observing my beautiful surroundings,” Jenna said.
Jenna can always be found working on something with a smile on her face. “Trying to do everything and still get enough sleep at night is challenging,” Jenna said. “It’s nearly impossible when you consider the fact that daylight lasts from about 5am to 10pm now…and then there’s all the reasons to stay up until it gets dark: star gazing, listening for wolves and watching for the Aurora Borealis!”
Jenna says she’s always missing something, because she can’t be everywhere at once. After work, there are many activities around the homestead, whether it’s sauna, jam sessions in the atrium or hiking and paddling on Hobo Lake. “I just try to remain content in the present moment so that I’m not missing out on appreciating what I do choose to do,” Jenna said.
Jenna wishes that everyone who visits the center could see the unbelievable energy and companionship that’s generated by everyone in the community, and that no matter what the project is, the relationships that are created along the way are the most important “product” of the work here.
Her homemade bread is thoroughly enjoyed by all. “With 20+ mouths to feed, I could be resident baker and keep busy nearly all hours of the day,” Jenna said. “I try to make bread a few times a week, and have gotten good at kneading six loaves worth of a bread at a time.”
Others can rely on Jenna for her energetic, enthusiastic and adventurous spirit. In her free time, Jenna enjoys baking bread, taking photos of wildflowers and then identifying them, bird watching, fishing, canoeing, woodworking, hiking, playing guitar, singing with friends, tanning hides and cooking community meals.