Jess moved to the Rocky Mountains from the glaciated prairies of South Dakota. She studied geology and theatre at the University of North Dakota and environmental education at the University of Idaho before working as an AmeriCorps Member with the McCall Outdoor Science School.

Jess is an active volunteer and committee member with several state and national organizations including the Montana Environmental Education Association, Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association, and the National Parks Conservations Association. She currently works to get children outdoors as the Executive Director of Montana Outdoor Science School.