Friends of Acadia’s Programs Intern Jake Haertel reflects on his summer in Acadia.

Everyone here knows me as Paul Haertel’s grandson.

The moment I introduce myself as Jacob Haertel, a conversation is sparked about how wonderful a man my grandfather was.

He truly was a wonderful man. A man whose love of Acadia and the outdoors led me to spend this summer on Mount Desert Island (MDI) working with Friends of Acadia. I see reminders of him constantly.

When I’m out exploring the park, I remember my summers here as a kid, going on hikes with him as he’d teach me about the bird songs we’d hear and the plants that we’d see. While I’m at work, digging into old organizational documents, I see his name pop up.

Jake Haertel, Friends of Acadia 2022 Programs Intern. (Photo by Your Name/Friends of Acadia)

My grandfather wasn’t the kind of man to brag about his accomplishments, so getting to see records of some of his work helped me to better understand the influence he had.

One day, I hope to have even a tenth of the impact on the world that he had, and my summer at Friends of Acadia was a great place to start that journey.

In my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to work with wonderful people doing very important work. I’ve also gotten to meet people who work for the park, other organizations, and in the community who have also made a big impact on me. And of course, I get to spend my free time in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Acadia continues to amaze me, and I feel like I could spend a lifetime here and still find little nooks and crannies that are filled with natural beauty. Every hike I go on is another chance to see something awe-inspiring, as truly every part of this island is gorgeous. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to live somewhere so beautiful, yet here I am.

Friends of Acadia has given me the opportunity to understand what made this little corner of the world so special to my grandfather. From the bird songs to the ocean, the mountains to the lakes, and especially the people, I can see why he fell in love with this special place.

I’m honored to say I’m related to someone who made such a positive impact on this community. So yes, everyone knows me as Paul Haertel’s grandson. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Editor’s Note: Jake Haertel, a senior at Western Washington University’s College of the Environment, was a Program Intern at Friends of Acadia this summer. Jake’s grandfather Paul Haertel had a long career in the National Park Service, serving as Superintendent at Acadia from 1994-2002.