Tera Lessard
 

about

 
 
Sitka, Alaska. Taken around 11pm in the summer from Totem Park with Mt. Edgecomb in the background.  @roger.cummings

Sitka, Alaska. Taken around 11pm in the summer from Totem Park with Mt. Edgecomb in the background. @roger.cummings

How I got here…reader’s digest version…

I am currently a resident of Spokane, Washington, but being born and raised in Alaska, I think I will always identify as Alaskan. It’s in your bones.

I came of age in a wild place, and although I barely graduated high school, I learned so much about survival during those years.

After an unexpectedly successful academic year at the University of Alaska Southeast, I moved to Los Angeles, where I knew no one. I had no real plan, but I wanted an adventure, and LA would definitely fit the bill. The broad diversity and challenging landscape of Los Angeles, coupled with a rich educational environment, opened up a new world. This is where my love of learning germinated.

Spokane, Washington. Taken on a blustery winter at dawn from Riverside State Park, with Bowl & Pitcher footbridge.  @roger.cummings

Spokane, Washington. Taken on a blustery winter at dawn from Riverside State Park, with Bowl & Pitcher footbridge. @roger.cummings

When I graduated with a BA in sociology in 2002, I knew I wanted to stay in higher education and I wanted to serve in the margins. I was offered a position at a small Jesuit university in Spokane Washington- Gonzaga University. At the time, I didn’t know what “Jesuit” meant and I’d never been to Spokane, but it was an opportunity to serve students with disabilities, so I accepted. I packed everything I owned into the back of my (parentally donated) 1988 Toyota pick-up and started the drive from LA to Spokane. This move launched a two decades long career in higher education.

After my father passed away unexpectedly in June of 2018, and then his wife passed just four months later, I hit the pause button on my career. I needed to focus on selling their properties and closing out their estate- no small undertaking. And, of course, I needed space to grieve. I maintained a small client-base in my side-business as a productivity coach and focused on estate matters and healing.

In July of 2019 I completed the last of the estate matters and was ready to get back to full-time work. I wanted to join an organization and be part of a team again, but I also wanted to be intentional about how and where I reentered the workforce. After some research, and much contemplation, I decided to enroll in an eLearning Instructional Design program at the University of Washington. I find myself in a state of flow when designing workshops, delivering learning experiences, and maintaining the technical side of that work. The UW program will compliment my existing expertise in adult learning with an additional degree of technical aptitude in design and eLearning.


Friends & Family

Roger and I, all gussied up for a family member’s wedding in LA.

Roger and I, all gussied up for a family member’s wedding in LA.

I met my hubby, Roger, in 2012 when we were both working at Gonzaga. Roger worked in IT and I was supporting a program that served students. We had both worked there for over five years and never met- we just didn’t run in the same circles. Then one day another couple on campus tricked us into a blind double date. At one point in the evening, Roger did the robot dance… and I swooned. The rest is history.

Dexter, the super dog, with a super voice.

Dexter, the super dog, with a super voice.

Roger has continued his career at GU, now serving as the Associate Director for Infrastructure Engineering in Information Technology (that’s a mouthful) and also as a hobbyist photographer (@roger.cummings). He has two daughters, so I have had the privilege of being in the lives of these special young women. I also have my darling fur baby, Dexter, a 10-year old mixed breed who has been with me since he was a pup. He’s quirky, sometimes grumpy, and has approximately 147 nicknames.

Me and my sista from another mista at one of our funny girl photoshoots.  @roger.cummings

Me and my sista from another mista at one of our funny girl photoshoots. @roger.cummings

I have found myself to be very happy living, working and volunteering in the Spokane community. I especially appreciate the progress and growth I’ve seen since I moved here in 2003. What I love most about Spokane are the people. I have a circle of friends who are truly wonderful. I feel pretty lucky for the people who choose to be in my life.

Shameless group selfie at my 80’s themed 40th birthday scavenger hunt. A ridiculous amount of fun.

Shameless group selfie at my 80’s themed 40th birthday scavenger hunt. A ridiculous amount of fun.

My beautiful besties on one of our special chicas trips.

My beautiful besties on one of our special chicas trips.

A fun day of kayaking with some great peeps.

A fun day of kayaking with some great peeps.

Roger’s baby girl, MyKayla, in her senior picture.  @roger.cummings

Roger’s baby girl, MyKayla, in her senior picture. @roger.cummings

Roger’s eldest daughter, Allyson, with her holiday smile.  @roger.cummings

Roger’s eldest daughter, Allyson, with her holiday smile. @roger.cummings


PERSONAL PASSIONS…

I look happy. But really I’m hiding from mosquitoes.

I look happy. But really I’m hiding from mosquitoes.

My personal passions are divided. I love adventurous outdoors activities…and I love “grandma” hobbies (as my friends call them). Travel, of course, is a category all by itself.

During the warm months, you can find me in a kayak, cursing the motorboats throwing a wake- or on a trail, cursing the mosquitoes. During the colder months I’m cross-country skiing (still cursing at something, I’m sure). Last season I accomplished my goal to ski 20 times. During my final run, I was in a t-shirt watching the snow melt under my skis. I’m rockin’ the yoga year-round, which keeps my mind and body both challenged and free.

Practicing my reverse dancer @ Lanai. I have a ways to go yet on this pose.  @roger.cummings

Practicing my reverse dancer @ Lanai. I have a ways to go yet on this pose. @roger.cummings

There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to hold this pose.  @roger.cummings

There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to hold this pose. @roger.cummings

Smiling because I met my ski goal for the season, while wearing a hat I knitted….soooo meta….

Smiling because I met my ski goal for the season, while wearing a hat I knitted….soooo meta….

My “grandma” hobbies include knitting, embroidery, sewing, and most of all, food preservation. I am also a Master Composter, which you can read more about on my volunteer page.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my story. If you’d like to connect with me, please click the button below.


 

volunteer

 
 
Turning my outdoor compost bins.

Turning my outdoor compost bins.

Adding food waste to my bokashi compost bin.

Adding food waste to my bokashi compost bin.

spokane county master composter/Recycler

This is my one-and-only consistent area of volunteerism. I found that trying to volunteer for multiple organizations only spread my limited available time too thin, reducing my ability to be impactful in any meaningful way. By focusing on volunteering as a Master Composter/Recycler (MC/R), I’ve been able to widen my reach and continue to develop my knowledge, while also investing in relationships with my fellow MC/Rs.

I actively compost using four methods. By clicking on each method, you’ll find a printable info guide or video produced by Spokane County Regional Solid Waste Program.

  1. Outdoor Bins

  2. Vermicomposting

  3. Bokashi Composting

  4. Spokane Clean Green Bin

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By using these methods of composting, plus re-using what we can, and recycling what remains, we have significantly reduced our household garbage.

As a MC/R volunteer, I serve Spokane County providing information and education about what can/cannot be recycled in our blue bins, how to compost at home, and how to appropriately use the Clean Green Bin for Food & Yard Waste collection.

For more information on the MC/R program, or to schedule a volunteer to visit your organization or group, click here or contact me using the button below.


Each April and October, the MC/Rs partner with other local organizations in bringing a compost fair to Finch Arboretum. Come rain or shine to learn about the various methods of composting, see live demos, and meet your local volunteers.

For attendees who live in the City of Spokane, you can receive a free GeoBin (my favorite outdoor composting container)- bring identification or a piece of mail with your current address.

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travels

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go...
— Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

I often joke that I think I was both conceived and born on an airplane. In 1984 a minor could travel without a guardian at the age of five. On my 5th birthday that year, I traveled alone. My mom put me on an airplane in Anchorage, Alaska and my dad picked me up in Seattle, Washington. My parents worked in the travel industry, so I was a pro by then. I still remember how fun that flight was, complete with wings, a cockpit tour, and doting flight attendants. So much has changed since that time, but what hasn’t changed is my drive to go and see it all. Below, I’ve tried to select my one favorite picture from a selection of my greatest adventures.

Based on my sad face, the outfits, and the bronze-skinned Alaskans, I’m guessing we are on our way home from our month-long stay in  Maui.  I still pout when I leave Maui.

Based on my sad face, the outfits, and the bronze-skinned Alaskans, I’m guessing we are on our way home from our month-long stay in Maui. I still pout when I leave Maui.

 
Roger’s youngest daughter, Mykayla, after we finished climbing  Mt. Verstovia in Sitka, Alaska   @roger.cummings

Roger’s youngest daughter, Mykayla, after we finished climbing Mt. Verstovia in Sitka, Alaska @roger.cummings

 
I’ll never forget this man. My dad decided to take me on a trip, just the two of us, as far as his airline miles would get us. So we went to  Tonga.  This was the taxi driver who picked us up and showed us the whole island. He even bought me a coconut and pulled out his pocket knife to make a drinking hole. He took us to his home and introduced us to his whole family. Thanks for that memory, mister. And hey, how about those eye-glasses?

I’ll never forget this man. My dad decided to take me on a trip, just the two of us, as far as his airline miles would get us. So we went to Tonga. This was the taxi driver who picked us up and showed us the whole island. He even bought me a coconut and pulled out his pocket knife to make a drinking hole. He took us to his home and introduced us to his whole family. Thanks for that memory, mister. And hey, how about those eye-glasses?

 
Roger setting up for a sunset photo @  Joshua Tree National Park

Roger setting up for a sunset photo @ Joshua Tree National Park

In my element @  Panorama in BC, Canada   @roger.cummings

In my element @ Panorama in BC, Canada @roger.cummings

I just love this picture, taken at Ebey’s Landing on  Whidbey Island, Washington.   @roger.cummings

I just love this picture, taken at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island, Washington. @roger.cummings

 
This is the shrine for St. Anne in  St. Anne du Beaupre, Quebec . It was built on land donated by my great-grandfather (x8) in 1658. This was a 2700 mile solo pilgrimage I embarked upon after my father’s passing. It was his wish to visit the shrine someday.

This is the shrine for St. Anne in St. Anne du Beaupre, Quebec. It was built on land donated by my great-grandfather (x8) in 1658. This was a 2700 mile solo pilgrimage I embarked upon after my father’s passing. It was his wish to visit the shrine someday.

One of Roger’s best photos. Lime Kiln Lighthouse on  San Juan Island, Washington .  @roger.cummings

One of Roger’s best photos. Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island, Washington. @roger.cummings

Taken at The Crescent in  Bath, England .  @roger.cummings

Taken at The Crescent in Bath, England. @roger.cummings

I love ravens, so this picture made the top of my list, taken at the  Fortress of the Tower of London, England,  looking at the Tower Bridge.  @roger.cummings

I love ravens, so this picture made the top of my list, taken at the Fortress of the Tower of London, England, looking at the Tower Bridge. @roger.cummings

A stray pup in  Puero Vallarta, Mexico .  @roger.cummings

A stray pup in Puero Vallarta, Mexico. @roger.cummings

Crater Lake, Oregon  looking at Wizard Island. We backpacked around the lake that summer, beautiful!  @roger.cummings

Crater Lake, Oregon looking at Wizard Island. We backpacked around the lake that summer, beautiful! @roger.cummings

One of my all-time favorite family pictures, taken at  Shenandoah National Park, Virginia .  @roger.cummings

One of my all-time favorite family pictures, taken at Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. @roger.cummings

Tourists soaking it up @  Grand Canyon National Park .  @roger.cummings

Tourists soaking it up @ Grand Canyon National Park. @roger.cummings

Do you see my furrowed brow? And the ice on the right? This is Angel’s Landing @  Zion National Park . The hike starts with a sign noting how many people have died that year hiking to the top.  @roger.cummings

Do you see my furrowed brow? And the ice on the right? This is Angel’s Landing @ Zion National Park. The hike starts with a sign noting how many people have died that year hiking to the top. @roger.cummings

I came of age in this wild place, but this was the first time we brought Roger’s youngest daughter to Alaska. They are trying to navigate how to get into a kayak from a floating log. Taken @  Camp Coogin Bay  at my parents’ floathouse in Southeast Alaska.

I came of age in this wild place, but this was the first time we brought Roger’s youngest daughter to Alaska. They are trying to navigate how to get into a kayak from a floating log. Taken @ Camp Coogin Bay at my parents’ floathouse in Southeast Alaska.

Roger’s youngest daughter, Mykayla, enjoying the view from  Goddard Hot Springs , a remote location in Southeast Alaska.

Roger’s youngest daughter, Mykayla, enjoying the view from Goddard Hot Springs, a remote location in Southeast Alaska.

We were in  Cambridge, England  and I saw this woman reading posters in front of a pile of bikes. I thought she was so interesting.  @roger.cummings

We were in Cambridge, England and I saw this woman reading posters in front of a pile of bikes. I thought she was so interesting. @roger.cummings

Diablo Lake @  North Cascades National Park  (still my favorite of all the national parks). We ended up kayaking this lake the year after we took this picture…and we learned how it got it’s name.  @roger.cummings

Diablo Lake @ North Cascades National Park (still my favorite of all the national parks). We ended up kayaking this lake the year after we took this picture…and we learned how it got it’s name. @roger.cummings

Bamboo forest @  Haleakala National Park.  When the wind came through, it sounded like an orchestra of rattles.    @roger.cummings

Bamboo forest @ Haleakala National Park. When the wind came through, it sounded like an orchestra of rattles. @roger.cummings

Ossagon Loop @  Redwoods National Park , Northern California, a 20 mile mountain biking loop with incredible forest AND beach.  @roger.cummings

Ossagon Loop @ Redwoods National Park, Northern California, a 20 mile mountain biking loop with incredible forest AND beach. @roger.cummings

Part of the moat @ Fort Jefferson,  Dry Tortugas National Park . We took a float-plane (bucket list!) to this site on our honeymoon. Built (though never finished) as a fortress and then used as a prison for criminals and deserters of the Civil War, it remains surrounded by shipwreck sites and coral reefs.  @roger.cummings

Part of the moat @ Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park. We took a float-plane (bucket list!) to this site on our honeymoon. Built (though never finished) as a fortress and then used as a prison for criminals and deserters of the Civil War, it remains surrounded by shipwreck sites and coral reefs. @roger.cummings

Epic (and spontaneous) wintertime hike @  Bryce Canyon National Park.   @roger.cummings

Epic (and spontaneous) wintertime hike @ Bryce Canyon National Park. @roger.cummings

Roger, trying to get the perfect shot @  Ohe’o Gulch, Maui.  There’s a sign next to his foot that says “Don’t go here, fatalities have occurred.” The perils of photography.

Roger, trying to get the perfect shot @ Ohe’o Gulch, Maui. There’s a sign next to his foot that says “Don’t go here, fatalities have occurred.” The perils of photography.