Risk-taking brings rewards

Family, community, fitness come together for local woman

By Elaine Ezerins

Staff Writer

The Facts

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ST. ALBANS — Jessica Frost, 40, has always been a risk taker. From moving to Germany with a man she was dating for six months to walking onto a job, surveying roads for the city planner in the Ketchikan Islands in Alaska, Frost jumped at the chance to try new things.

When asked how she was able to accomplish so much, in so little time, Frost attributed her success to having a support system in her family, inner confidence, and not being afraid to fail.

Frost was born in Farmingdale, a rural part of New Jersey. As a child, she loved being outside and playing in the woods, which nudged her toward pursuing a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management from Rutgers’s University.

A runner all throughout high school, Frost walked onto the Division I crew team at Rutgers and served as captain senior year. “We were one of the top eight women’s crews in the nation,” she said. “That was very defining in my life at that time. Some of the girls I rowed with have gone on to the national team or are still coaching.”

“I feel like I have a lot of strong women that I have encountered in life that I have found inspiring,” she said. “All the women I rowed with in college are very important in my life and I still see them. We all turned 40 so we did the Spartan Race together in New Jersey at the end of April. We were like, ‘I can’t believe we’ve been friends for 20 years.’”

When Frost was 24, she decided to travel cross-country for six weeks, stopping along the way before reaching the West Coast. Out there, one of her college friends invited Frost to crash at his place. The rest was history.

They began dating and not even six months into the relationship, Frost got an invitation to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. “He was in the Army and going to get out and move back east, but the Army offered him a deal that if he stayed in, they would send him to Germany,” she said. “So he called me and said, ‘I could go to Germany for three years, do you want to come?’”

Frost said she thought about it for a split second before quickly deciding, “Okay! Lets do it!”

“I’ve always been, it’s probably the yogi in me, but I’ve always been able to listen to my gut,” she said, ”because it’s usually right. Things usually work out in the end, maybe not perfectly, but…”

Shortly after moving to Wurzburg, Germany, the couple got married in order for Frost to be able to stay in country and get a job at the local hospital.

Frost said if she could go back to any of the places she lived in her lifetime, it would be Germany.

For three years, Frost and her husband were quintessential newlyweds, living off the army base in the downtown of the city. They could walk everywhere from their apartment, often exploring the castles built on the hillsides and tasting the local foods and wines.

Frost said they bought a VW bus and went everywhere in it on the weekends.  One time, they parked in the countryside in Belgium, exploring the area by bike during the day, sleeping in the van at night.

The year of the Summer Olympics, they drove the bus down through the Alps in Italy, all the way to Greece to watch the games. “We made the best of it,” Frost said. “It was amazing. I would’ve never been able to do that kind of traveling. When I was a kid, we’d never… we’d go camping, but we never went anywhere.”

“I always wanted to travel,” she said. “This was the ultimate traveling experience.”

Frost acknowledged she took some risks, moving out to Germany with her boyfriend at the time, but she knew if things didn’t work out, she could always move back home.

Frost said it’s not like she ever took a risk where there was no safety net. “If everything fell apart, my parents would take me in, you know,” she laughed. But, “I always felt like, I’m smart. I can go get a job. I never felt like there was nothing for me to do out there.”

“I’ve never ever been bored, I don’t think,” she laughed. “There’s always something to put my time and energy into. And I guess I just always had that attitude like, you know, I’ll probably be fine. I’ll probably land on my feet.”

The journey didn’t stop there. After living in Germany for three years and having her first daughter, Maya, there, her husband got a job with the public health service and was relocated to Alaska. Frost got a part-time job, working for the city planner as a roads surveyor, often carrying Maya on her back as she trudged through the rainforest.

The 180 inches of rain Alaska averages every year quickly wore her down and in 2007, Frost and her family moved to Vermont.

Feeling like they finally found a place to settle down and call their forever home, Frost began looking around for ways to be active in the community.

Frost said she was trying to find moms who wanted to be active. “There were lots of groups, but you would just go and eat,” she laughed. “That’s fine, but I wanted to balance it out and find the active moms in the community.”

Not finding what she was looking for at the local gyms in the area, Frost decided to teach a workout class herself, going to Kelly Viens of the St. Albans Recreation Department for permission. It was called Hot Mamas and the mothers would do circuit and bootcamp style workouts while the kids would run around.

“I think it’s made a difference,” she said. “I mean all these kids are still super active and they know what a burpee is.”

The success she had with this class led Frost to pursue a yoga certification and teach yoga to young children in preschools and afterschool programs. “I always felt like I was trying to send the same message that being active as a family is very important,” Frost said, because studies show that kids who spend time around active adults will in turn be more active later in life.

Teaching classes part time also allowed Frost to work and put her energy into something, but still have the kids around as much as possible. That’s something she thoroughly enjoys about her current job, serving as the St. Albans Health Advocate for RiseVT.

“The hours are so flexible,” she said, “which is huge.” Frost works 32 hours a week, bouncing between her home, the community and the hospital.

“I wish more moms had that opportunity to have a flexible job,” she said. “It brings me so much satisfaction to be able to contribute to our town, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the flexibility.”

Looking back at her life, Frost said she was able to get such a variety of jobs because one, she had a degree, but two, she wasn’t afraid to ask.

“The degree is key,” Frost said.

She said she always tells her daughters, “You don’t have to know what you want to do, but just having that piece of paper is going to open doors for you.”

And then, she said she just always applied or asked. “I’m not afraid of asking, I guess,” Frost said. “If somebody says no, they say no, but you may as well put it out there and try.”

Usually doors open, she said. They did for her, when she wanted for work as a correspondent for The Messenger or as a health advocate for RiseVT, but didn’t have a degree in those areas of specialty.

“I think if you walk in, feeling confident in the skills you do have and highlight the skills that you do have that…” Frost trailed off. “You don’t have to have the whole package, especially if you’re willing to learn.”

“Just ask” she said.

Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting women in Franklin County. If you know someone the Messenger should profile, contact Elaine Ezerins at Elaine@samessenger.com