Meet Zack: Jewish Outdoorsman of the Week

by Allison Friedman / July 22, 2020

Zack Bernstein loves exploring the outdoors and is dedicating his career to environmental science and conservation. Learn more about Zack’s favorite hiking spots, newfound love of bird watching, and what his dream day in DC would look like (spoiler: it involves being outdoors).


Allie: What brought you to the DC area?

Zack: I grew up in Chicago and went to school at Maryland. I moved back home for a while after college, but had friends in the DC area and wanted to go where I knew people. DC is also a good spot to work in environmental science and conservation on a national level, and I landed a fellowship at the EPA.

Allie: What sparked your interest in the environmental conservation field?

Zack: I’ve been interested in this area from a young age. I went to nature camp through most of middle school, and in high school really enjoyed bio classes and knew this was something I wanted to study more in college. But even more so now, being in the adult world, I feel more invested in this field. It’s what I’m interested in academically, work wise, and in my personal life.

Allie: What is your dream day in DC in a post-pandemic world?

Zack: I’d drive out to George Washington National Forest – it’s not too far from DC and there are beautiful hiking trails and campsites. I’d do a little hike there, then come back to the city and get cleaned up. Then, I’d go to dinner with friends somewhere with outdoor seating where we can eat, drink, and hang out for a while. I’d end the day at the Crimson View rooftop for drinks with friends.

Allie: What’s on your life bucket list?

Zack: I’d like to do a camping trip in Patagonia and other parts of Argentina and Chile. I’m fascinated by Montana, and would love to really experience as much of the state as possible. It would be fun to live somewhere new for while, maybe in the mountainous West. I’d also like to learn to fly fish and then take it up as a hobby.

Allie: What’s the best place you’ve ever been hiking?

Zack: Baxter State Park in Maine. It’s absolutely gorgeous, it’s the really pristine wilderness and you can rent a canoe there for a dollar an hour. It does a great job of being primitive, yet accommodating.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Zack: Brisket. A nice, smoked brisket.

Allie: What’s one thing that’s been helping you cope during COVID-19?

Zack: I’ve been getting into bird watching. I got into this because my roommate got a mailing from the Audubon Society, which was also advertising this bird watching app. I downloaded the app and thought it was really cool. There’s a lot of local places around the city to go watch birds, like Theodore Roosevelt Island, Kingman Island, and Rock Creek Park. It’s also been a good way to go check out new parts of the city.

Allie: Do you have a favorite bird species?

Zack: For the moment I’ll have to go with Magnolia Warblers. I saw one this weekend (outside of DC), it had these bold, striking colors and was really beautiful.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Zack: They are looking for a husband or wife.

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