From the shores of Lake Michigan, to the cactus country of Arizona, and now in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Jeanie Hilten has devoted her work and play to the celebration of nature and its power to enrich human lives. She credits her love of the outdoors and its beauties to artist parents who throughout her life encouraged appreciation of the wonder and complexity of both nature and people.
She studied Anthropology and Geology for her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and after work as a naturalist in Tennessee State Parks, returned for a Masters of Science in Forest Ecology.
Jeanie and her husband moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1983, and they were both were enthralled by the spectacular scenery and fascinating cultures of the southwest. Jeanie worked in the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as an interpreter.
Returning to Tennessee in 1986, Jeanie continued her environmental education and conservation efforts with positions at Wesley Woods Camp, Blount County Soil Conservation District, and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.
In 2000, Jeanie became Administrative Officer of Discover Life in America, Inc.,
coordinating the ambitious endeavor called the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She directed a strong science education effort with the project, combining the research of world-renowned experts in natural history with the participation of “citizen scientist” volunteers, teachers, and students, and the inventory and monitoring work of National Park staff.
In 2007, with her position as Special Events Coordinator with the Smoky Mountain Visitors Bureau, Jeanie brought people together for celebrations of the natural and cultural history of the Smokies. She retired in 2012, but not from her efforts in conservation and environmental education.
Jeanie and husband Richard live in East Millers Cove on 22 acres of woods, fields, streams, and gardens. Jeanie gardens, knits, and plays old time banjo. Together she and Richard, who is a fine naturalist, outdoorsman and conservationist, enjoy spending time with family and friends, motorcycle travel, hiking, and music.