January 23. 2018 3:50PM

Jessica E. Wright • 28 • North Conway

What is the best career advice you ever received?

A professor at Babson once told me to always have a financial nest egg set aside for emergencies. If I ever needed to choose between my morals and my job, I could choose my morals and be financially OK. Though I have thankfully never had to make that choice, the message has always stuck with me.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always had a connection to the earth, soil, and environment around me. Protecting our farm and forest lands is essential to our existence. My work at the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust allows me to help make sure that we are maintaining a healthy balance of conservation and development here in the MWV and western Maine.

What motivates you to give back to your community?

I think that the saying “it takes a village” must have originated in the Mt. Washington Valley. This community truly did raise me and it continues to help me grow every day. Through both my work at the Land Trust and with STAY MWV, I want to make sure that the same sense of support is felt by many generations to come.

What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

I would tell my 22-year-old self to stop worrying so much, especially about money. I spent way too much of my early 20s working double shifts and skipping vacations in order to keep myself financially secure. Looking back, I probably could’ve used a vacation!

What would make New Hampshire more attractive to young professionals?

I think we need to take a hard look at student debt as a real barrier to entry to young professionals settling here in New Hampshire. Particularly in rural parts of the state, young people simply can’t make the financials work even though the lifestyle that comes with living here might be attractive. We need to start looking at the root of the problem (the cost of higher education) while at the same time supporting those folks who already bear the burden. A tall order, I know!

What would you like to be doing when you’re 40?

Hiking the Whites! Maybe with a kid or two in tow.

What was your last major achievement?

Over the past two years my colleagues and I have built a mission-driven young professional network in the MWV (STAY MWV). One of our major focuses is our student loan scholarship which, in its first two years alone, has provided over $13,000 in student debt relief to MWV residents. It’s all about recognizing the burden student debt places not only on our young people but also on the wider community and letting young people know that the Valley wants them here! As we go into our third application period, I couldn’t be prouder of the work we do and the community support we have garnered.

Volunteer activities: Chair, STAY MWV (Supporting The Active Young Professionals of the Mt. Washington Valley), Mt. Washington Valley Preservation Association, Gov. Sununu’s Millennial Advisory Council.