How Jennifer Recreates Responsibly:
Jennifer says that no matter what the weather or conditions she always abides by the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Others. “You can find me on the trails with a bag to pick up litter, signing in at registers, carrying a first aid kit, and leashing my dog—all with a big smile on my face feeling lucky to be a part of the wildness,” she says.
Jennifer Ricupero is excited to join Friends of the Bridger-Teton because she has a love and respect for nature. “It comes from a childhood and adulthood of continuous wonder and education of the wilderness,” she says. “Being a part of the team at Friends of the Bridger-Teton means an opportunity to protect and promote sustainability of the flora and fauna of the National Forest for generations to come. I enjoy supporting the connection between the communities that visit the outdoors and those that inhabit it.”
Jennifer and her dog Otto, a 95-pound Labrador retriever, moved to Pinedale in January 2023 from New York’s Adirondack Mountains, where she grew up canoeing, fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing in the Adirondack Park. (At almost 6 million acres, this park is almost twice as big as the BTNF!) Founded in 1892 by the State of New York, Adirondack Park is the largest park in the contiguous United States; it covers one-fifth of New York State. “I took an active role in protecting the Park and educating its visitors and I hope to continue my love of nature here in Wyoming,” Jennifer says. “I always wanted to explore the West and its vast landscapes.”
Jennifer has Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Recreation and Leisure Management and in Business Management. She earned a Master’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Education from Boston University. Prior to moving to Pinedale, Jennifer was director at women’s retreat in Vermont, where she guided recreational activities, fitness, and nutrition. Later, in Florida’s Everglades and on the South Carolina Coast, Jennifer guided running, kayaking, and fishing trips. “I have guided many a city slicker in the ways of Leave No Trace Principles,” she says.
Public lands and nature are important to Jennifer because “I’ve always considered the mountains to be my sanctuary,” she says. “Nature has always been a place of healing for me. When I’m outside, I am the person who is stopping to look at mushrooms or wildlife tracks, and marveling at how lucky I am to be where I am. Everyone who visits or lives near the BTNF is so fortunate.”
Otto the Litter Retriever
Jennifer taught Otto, who is a Labrador RETRIEVER after all, to bring her litter. “When we were in South Carolina we’d go for runs on the beaches everyday,” Jennifer says. “Otto started getting interested in cans and bottles and I taught him to bring them to me. Every time he did, he’d get a treat.” He continues to find litter in Wyoming. On a hike in the early summer, Otto was off in the woods and Jennifer heard the crinkling of a plastic bottle. A minute later, he came running up to her with the bottle in his mouth. “People might say litter is a little thing, but, to me, it really does affect the feeling of solitude,” Jennifer says. “It’s hard to feel solitude if there is evidence of the impact of humans in the form of trash around.”