Building the Future with Help from AmeriCorps

Trail Walker

AmeriCorps crews at Sterling Forest, 2013

Where is the next generation of trail leaders going to come from?

One big source that has proved its effectiveness on trail projects and in communities for decades is AmeriCorps. The Trail Conference is embarked on a strategy to recruit AmeriCorps members and give them opportunities to learn and serve in our area by improving our trails and strengthening our corps of traditional trail volunteers.

AmeriCorps logoThe Trail Conference has welcomed AmeriCorps members managed by other organizations on trail projects in the past. Starting this year, we are developing our own AmeriCorps program and look forward to welcoming, training, and cultivating 16 members in May. They will be assigned to trail projects in our region, where they will also help us grow and train our base of local volunteers.

AmeriCorps is a direct descendant of the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which built and improved parks and outdoor facilities in our region and across the nation. (Lakes Welch, Silvermine, Turkey Hill, and Pine Meadow in Harriman State Park are local examples of CCC products.)

Like its 1930s predecessor, AmeriCorps programs provide participants with job training, leadership skills, opportunities for service that improves communities and the environment, a living stipend to allow individuals to commit themselves to full time service to their country, and an education award to further their higher education in a variety of ways.

AmeriCorps is a petri dish that grows new generations of outdoor leaders, and quite a number of our own leaders—volunteers, staff, and partners—have been nurtured by it: Skip Card (former board member), Karen Lutz (ATC Mid-Atlantic Region Director),  Ama Koenigshof (Trail Builder/Educator), Peter Dolan (New Jersey Program Coordinator), Leigh Draper (former East Hudson Program Coordinator), Jennifer Easterbrook (Administrative Assistant), Erik Mickelson (Field Manager), and Kevin Simpson (Bear Mountain Construction Manager) are just a few that we know of.

This year's Corps members will be assigned to the Bear Mountain Trails Project, the new Palisades and Taconic Trail Crews and to our Invasives Strike Force.