By Michele Leavitt

Where but Unity College can a national Stihl Timbersports women’s champion also exercise her literary talents and become a champion slam poet?

Just ask Jennifer LaHache Michaud, who graduated in 2014 with degrees in Wildlife Biology and Conservation Law.

An active member of the Unity College Woodsman’s Team while enrolled at Unity, Michaud won first place in the women’s collegiate timber sports competition in 2013.

For those unfamiliar with timber sports, it means she knows how to handle an axe and a chainsaw. She can saw through giant logs at top speed and axe her way through a block of wood faster than most any other woman in the country.

The Northeast has strong women’s competitors in all timber sport events, and Michaud continues to compete as a professional on the circuit. She also makes time to attend collegiate meets, where she cheers on Unity teams and acts as a mentor to Unity’s women competitors.

Her can-do attitude and work ethic as a member of the Unity Woodsmen’s team was also apparent in her approach to competition-level poetry.

She attended off-campus poetry slam and learned from watching national and regional champions. She took advantage of coaching opportunities on campus and practiced long hours to memorize her poems and rehearse her performances.

Her work paid off, not just with slam wins, but also in crafting poems she will be proud of for the rest of her life.

Here’s an excerpt from one of her most popular pieces, “I Grew Up Here”:

I grew up here,
On a tool bench that was taller than I was.
Collectable Nascar Hot Wheels in a case behind me,
Women plastered in all kinds of positions on the walls around.
I grew up here,
Between the cigarette smoke,
Curling overhead,
Painting the air shades of Marlboro red,
And the corroded concrete,
Stained with gasoline, and WD.
Yes, I grew up here,
The women on the walls,
My examples of feminine,
The spit, and the sweat, and the swearing,
My examples of life.
I hate pink,
I will call you a pansy if you act like one,
And a man that’s more of a man than I am …
Is a man I’m all about getting to know better.
I grew up here,
A little girl infused with the confused,
Male beauty myth.
My wide curious eyes,
Soaking up the broad hairy underbelly,
Of society-defined masculinity.
I grew up here,
Some would argue I belong on the wall,
Or that my little flashlight holding hands,
Should have found a doll,
Instead of the wrenches my father asked for.
All I know …
Is right here, right here,
Is where those men gave me the spine to stand with . . .

Coming from a working class background, Michaud said one of her concerns is whether or not college students such as her, who often go into tremendous debt, are ever able to “crack the caste.” She mentioned as an example someone who might not be able to afford to take an unpaid internship that allows him or her to climb into a job network.

But if that isn’t an option, there’s entrepreneurship. In Michaud’s case, that means starting a business in which she trains hunting dogs.

After graduating from Unity with a double major in Wildlife Biology and Conservation Law, she completed a short, informal apprenticeship with Wildwind Kennels and now makes a solid living doing what she loves: working outdoors with animals.

“I’m happy because I found a niche,” she says. Not surprisingly, there’s an element of competition in her new profession.

She trains puppies from four to six months old until they are two years old, and she has traveled as far away as Kansas to compete, working as a contract employee under Wildwind Kennels. Her LLC is called Uprising Upland Dog Training.

She works with the dogs of clients from as far away as Oregon. Michaud said she has already run dogs in hunting stakes, and as the puppies she is training now get older, she will have the option of running them, too.

The future looks bright for Michaud – but a word of warning to dog handlers who compete against her: This is a woman who does what it takes to win.