2020 Trail Conference Awards: Celebrating Our Volunteers and Partners

March 08, 2020
News
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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2020 Trail Conference Awards: Celebrating Our Volunteers and Partners
2020 Volunteer Award Honorees. Photo by John Rahfield.

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Volunteers are our superheroes. Every day, we celebrate their passion, dedication, and leadership that make the trails we all love possible.

At the Trail Conference, our passion is creating great trail experiences. In fact, there’s a good chance your last hike, trail run, or ride was made possible by some of our 2,000-plus dedicated volunteers and the people who support them.  

Without their incredible commitment to protecting trails and natural areas, issues such as blowdowns, untended erosion, and the encroachment of invasive species would cut off the public’s ability to safely and enjoyably experience all the outdoors has to offer. We can play outside because they work so hard to provide that access for everyone. 

And so it is with honor that we say volunteers are our superheroes. On March 8 at Skylands Manor in Ringwood, N.J., we held our annual Volunteer Appreciation event, where we recognized a number of outstanding individuals and organizations that exemplify the Trail Conference mission.  

Congratulations to all honorees—and thank you!  

Awards

The Major William A. Welch Award for Outstanding Partner 

Honors partners who have been strong advocates for and provided significant assistance to Trail Conference volunteers. 

Jessica Kruegel, New Jersey State Park Service Supervisor 
Over the years, Jessica has assisted our New Jersey trails program with trail planning and approvals. She has assisted the Trail Conference with major projects such as the Pochuck Boardwalk construction and a major upcoming project at Terrace Pond. Jessica coordinates critical interagency cooperation that allows the Trail Conference to tackle projects that would otherwise be impossible. From quickly approving trail work proposals to offering free group camping for volunteers, Jessica has shown endless support and enthusiasm for our volunteer efforts.  

The Ken Lloyd Award for Outstanding Member Club 

Honors member clubs who have provided remarkable service to trails and natural lands in partnership with the Trail Conference. 

Laura Huisking and Ryan Windess, Hike the World  

Since the club's creation, Hike the World has been a huge supporter of the Trail Conference. Club leaders Ryan and Laura are active Trail Conference volunteers. They maintain the Hanks East Trail in the New Jersey Pequannock Watershed. Ryan and Laura often plan club hikes and events in partnership with the Trail Conference to promote our organization’s mission and volunteer efforts. In fall 2019, Hike the World held their first HikeFest, an incredible community event that featured many local nonprofits, but specifically raised funds for the Trail Conference. Ryan and Laura's enthusiasm for hiking, the outdoors, and supporting the Trail Conference is endless and inspiring. They are incredible leaders within the community, and our organization is better because of them!  

The Dedicated Service Award 

Honors long-time, dedicated volunteers who have demonstrated exemplary service to the trails and natural areas that surround them. 

Kendall Barnes, Trail Maintainer: Huckleberry Point Trail, Catskills 

A long-time Trail Conference member and trail maintainer, Ken reliably maintained the Huckleberry Point Trail in the Catskills for 30 years. When he resigned in 2019, he shared, “I really loved that trail and its terrific views at the end overlooking Hudson Valley.”  

Glenn and Sarah Collins, Trail Maintainers: Appalachian Trail, Bear Mountain 

Glenn and Sarah Collins have been maintaining the Appalachian Trail on Bear Mountain for over 30 years. They have demonstrated incredible dedication, as this is a particularly difficult section to maintain. Due to the huge amount of traffic this section sees, the issues of wear, litter, and graffiti need continuous monitoring. Glenn has developed a protocol for neutralizing the omnipresent graffiti. He created a palate of neutralizing paint and a protocol for application, which he frequently needs to employ on this section. Glenn has even written up instructions so his protocol could be used by other maintainers and organizations. 

John Graham and Darielle Rayner, Trail Maintainers: Muscoot Farm and Merestead Park, Westchester County  
John and Darielle have been trail maintainers for 11 years. In that time, they have taken on a lot of responsibility: They maintain all of the trails at Muscoot Farm and Merestead Park in Westchester County. They demonstrate endless dedication and a dependable work ethic in these parks. Darielle visits her trails often and has spent up to 6-7 hours at a time working to maintain the trail and remove invasive plants. In fall 2019, the pair reported 11 works trips just to Merestead Park! John and Darielle’s persistence and attention to detail make them dependable maintainers and role models.  

James Gregoire, Investment Committee Chair 
Over the last 20 years, Jim has dedicated his time and expertise in many roles. James is a long-time member of the Audit, Investment, and Finance committees. He was also the Board Treasurer from 2009-2014 and volunteered as Trail Supervisor for the New Jersey Appalachian Trail for eight years. James more recently stepped up as the Investment Committee chair. He has since moved to New Hampshire but despite relocating, remains dedicated to our organization and its mission. In addition to his role as our Investment Committee leader, James continues to hold his positions on the Audit and Finance committees. 

Herb Hochberg, Trail Maintainer: Appalachian Trail, Putnam County 
As chairperson for the Westchester Trails Association, Herb served as a trail maintainer on the Appalachian Trail for 17 years. As the WTA chair, he was effective at recruiting maintainers for the WTA sections and submitting reports in a timely manner. Herb also served as our Board Treasurer from 2003 to 2006 and he regularly acted as a swamper to help tackle blowdowns. Herb recently retired from his maintainer position, but in his time volunteering at the Trail Conference, he always showed up with a can-do attitude and a willingness to pitch in.  

Calvin Johnson, Trail Supervisor: Catskills Black Dome Range, North Escarpment, and South Escarpment 
Cal got his start volunteering for the Trail Conference more than 30 years ago as a maintainer of the Escarpment Trail in the Catskills. Soon after, Cal took on the responsibility of trail supervisor. In addition to being a dependable supervisor for many years, Cal has been involved with many important trail projects throughout Catskill Park, including building the John Robb Lean-to and contributing to significant relocations of the Long Path. Cal co-led the relocation of a 3-mile section of the Long Path in the Indian Head Wilderness area from Silver Hollow Notch to Plateau Mountain, which eliminated the road walk along route 214. He also spent many days working with the crew that relocated the Long Path from Woodland Valley Road. Retired Catskill Trails Chair Pete Senterman shared, “Cal has been a capable supervisor of an ever-expanding network of trails. He is a good worker, always willing to pitch in whenever and wherever needed.” 

John Jurasek, Publications Committee Chair 
John has demonstrated exemplary service in many roles. He began as a trail maintainer in 1995 and has maintained sections of the Long Path in Rockland County and trails in Ringwood State Park. He later became involved with our Publications Committee, taking on several roles including performing field-checks and collecting GPS data for Trail Conference maps and books, and serving as project manager for our maps. He then stepped up as chair of the Publications Committee and has held this role for the last five years. John has also been an advocate for the Trail Conference over the years by leading hikes with local chapters of the Adirondack Mountain Club, Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Sierra Club. 

Jane Levenson, Trail Maintainer: Washburn Trail, Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve 
Jane has been traveling all the way from Manhattan to maintain the Washburn Trail in Putnam County, N.Y., for over 30 years. In 1992, she was awarded the Hoeferlin Award for Exemplary Leadership and has been maintaining ever since! She has also served as a Board member and an at-large delegate. Jane’s accuracy and attention to detail make her an exemplary steward of our trails. Jane also advocates for our trails by regularly engaging trail users as she performs maintenance.  

George L Scott, Club Chairman, Trail Maintainer, Crew Leader: Lewisboro Trails 

George is the chairperson for the Town of Lewisboro, a partner of the Trail Conference. In his role, George has built, maintained, and protected the 14.4 miles of Lewisboro trails in Westchester County and worked hard to ensure their sustainability and access to all who wish to use them for 20 years. He manages a crew that meets weekly to accomplish trail maintenance. George also uses every possible opportunity to recruit the public to volunteer with the Trail Conference.   

Doreen Yates and the Fair Lawn High School Bridges III Class, Cartography Department Volunteers 

The Bridges class at Fair Lawn High School has been assembling maps for the Trail Conference for 12 years. This class is made up of developmentally disabled students, and for them, map assembly is a very high-level activity. Over the years, they have assembled tens of thousands of our maps under Doreen’s leadership. We currently rely on them to assemble the majority of our maps.   

The Next Generation Award 

Honors volunteers under 25 years of age who have enthusiastically and passionately made contributions serving the Trail Conference's mission.

Nick Boyle, Trail Program Volunteer 

Nick got his start with the Trail Conference as a Conservation Corps Member, serving on the 2017 Taconic Crew. That year, the crew built stone staircases on the Undercliff Trail near Breakneck Ridge. His work ethic, positive attitude, and enthusiasm rubbed off on his crewmates and the volunteers who joined him on work trips. In 2019, Nick came back and began volunteering at Trail Conference Headquarters on a regular basis. He logged more than 10 hours each week to complete various assignments to support our Trail Program.  

Aidan McClure, Trail Maintainer: Appalachian Trail, Harriman State Park 
When Aidan started as a trail maintainer with the Trail Conference, he was possibly our youngest to tackle the job! At age 14, Aidan enthusiastically took on the role of maintainer on the Appalachian Trail along the west side of Bear Mountain. Aidan has recruited family to help and has done an admirable job for the last two and a half years. Aidan is a shining example of the passion and enthusiasm that our next generation has to bring to preserving our trails. 

Jann Mirchandani and Boy Scout Troop 165, Eagle Scout Projects: Yorktown Heights 

Since 2000, Troop 165 has had eight dependable and hard-working scouts complete their Eagle Projects on Yorktown Heights trails. Their projects have made a significant impact on the local trails and have included bridges being built, trails repaired, new boardwalk installed, and a kiosk constructed.  Their positive, go-getter attitudes make them a pleasure to work with, and their dedication is thoroughly supported by their troop leader, Jann Mirchandani. 

The Hit the Ground Running Award 

Honors volunteers who have “hit the ground running” and made a strong impact within their first two years of service. 

Richard Garrison, Taconic Crew Volunteer 

In the second half of the 2019 season, Richard became a common fixture at the Taconic Crew site on the Washburn Trail. He regularly volunteered two or three full days a week alongside the Conservation Corps trail crew. Even after the crew finished their term, he continued for weeks to contribute to this sizeable project. All told, Richard volunteered 176 hours of his time in 2019 to setting rock stairs and gargoyles, digging new drains, running the highline rigging system, and making piles upon piles of crush fill. Richard is the first to arrive each morning he volunteers, and is a consistent source of positivity and morale whenever he’s at the worksite. 

Kasia Karolewska and Leo Semonsky, Trail Supervisors: Southern Wyanokies 

Kasia and Leo have hit the ground sprinting since they started volunteering with the Trail Conference. They began as maintainers in 2018 and by 2019 they took on the role of trail supervisors for the Southern Wyanokies in North Jersey. Kasia and Leo have demonstrated confidence in their new roles. From quickly getting to know their trail system and maintainers to coordinating with sawyers to tackle blowdowns, Kasia and Leo’s enthusiasm and can-do attitude have made for a successful first year as volunteer leaders. 

David Lerer, Trail Maintainer: West Hudson, Bear Mountain/Harriman 
David became a trail maintainer in late 2018, adopting a challenging section of the Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail and hasn’t stopped stepping up to the plate since. In his first year, he joined trail crew trips in his area, including supporting a major bridge construction; adopted a second section of trail; recruited new volunteers; and accompanied his supervisor on trips to clear under-maintained trails. He is a strong advocate for the Trail Conference and good friend of the trails. 

Steve Struble, Trail Maintainer: Indian Hill Loop Trail, Sterling Forest 
In 2018, Steve adopted a portion of the Indian Hill Trail in Sterling Forest. Once he came on board, he rectified long-standing issues on his trail, such as resetting ingrown trail blazes. Steve has since steadily increased his assignment mileage, which now includes the entire 3.15-mile loop of trail. He has the longest maintenance mileage assigned to a single individual in Sterling Forest, and more importantly has demonstrated a continuous ability to sustain his high level of comprehensive maintenance on the popular trail. 

The Rising Leader Award 

Honors volunteers who have taken on additional responsibilities with great enthusiasm over the last two years and demonstrate leadership qualities. It is given to those who selflessly keep dedicating more time and effort and show no signs of slowing down. 

Moe Lemire, Local Trail Chair: Appalachian Trail, Orange and Rockland Counties  
An Appalachian Trail thru-hiker himself, Moe brings endless enthusiasm and dedication to this section of the Appalachian Trail. In addition to his duties as chair, Moe regularly coordinates with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and National Park Service on matters regarding the trail. He also sponsors a New York section hike each year to promote the Trail Conference and inspire volunteerism in all the hikers he brings along—and to those he meets along the way. Overall, Moe’s love for the Appalachian Trail is infectious, and as a leader he inspires his volunteers and the community to get involved in preserving the A.T. 

Mk Moore, Local Trail Chair: New York Metro Region 

Mk is responsible for the Trail Conference’s recent Metro renaissance. He has worked to bring the Trail Conference Metro Region to the forefront of the outdoor recreation world in New York City. Through his highly active social media recruitment strategies and his relentless schedule of work trips in city parks, Mk has onboarded hundreds of new Trail Conference volunteers. Thanks to his hard work and persistence, the 107 miles of trails that Mk oversees are now almost entirely maintained by Trail Conference volunteers. 

Connie Stern, Trail Supervisor: East Hudson Southern Westchester 

Connie first began volunteering in 2009 and has continuously taken on new responsibilities. She became a supervisor in summer 2018. Her region encompasses varied terrain including wet areas, places with frequent blowdowns, and a very popular quarry trail. Connie tackles these challenges with her proactive and solutions-oriented attitude. She inspires the volunteers and partners she works with and leads to all pitch in on well-organized projects that keep the trails in excellent condition.  

The Paul Leiken Award for Going the Extra Mile 

Honors volunteers who have recently “gone the extra mile” and made a significant, noteworthy contribution in the last 12 to 18 months.  

Ed and Nancy Duvinski, Trail Maintainers: New Jersey Stokes State Forest and High Point State Park 
Ed: Sawyer; Nancy: Swamper 

Nancy and Ed have been trail maintainers for the last five years and make an amazing team. This past year, they truly went above and beyond, taking on a massive trail-blazing project. The two put up 1,400 blazes in a six-week time period—a project that was expected to take over a year. In addition, they taught trail maintenance workshops and removed major blowdowns. 

Cynthia Galvin, Membership and Development Volunteer 
Cynthia has been an amazing team member to the Development department over the years. She is always willing to step up and take on a challenge, sometimes even volunteering four days a week and staying late into the night to help get projects to the finish line. This past year, she helped with additional tasks when a staff member went on maternity leave, taking on a substantial amount of work that enabled the Development team to stay afloat during the particularly busy end-of-year stretch in 2019.   

Glenn Gross, Sign Construction Volunteer 

Glenn donates his craftsmanship skills to the Trail Conference, creating beautiful trail signs to help direct hikers. The past year, he dedicated well over 200 hours that resulted in signs being placed at key trail locations throughout New Jersey and on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail road walk from Tuxedo Station to Harriman State Park. A great example of Glenn’s meticulous attention to detail and ability to do almost anything: the intricate Trail Conference logo he inscribes in wood. No task seems impossible to Glenn. 

Paul Helbock, Trail Maintainer: Nelsonville and Undercliff Trails, Hudson Highlands North 

Paul Helbock regularly goes the extra mile for the Trail Conference and the Village of Nelsonville, N.Y. Paul walks his trails daily with his dog. He is very attentive to posting and replacing trail blazes and pruning back overgrowth. After each storm, Paul takes it upon himself to check for damage and address any problems. Paul is also an active member of the Nelsonville Trail Committee and he sets an example for others as a steward of the Nelsonville Nature Preserve. He has proven to be a model to other residents and local volunteers, stewarding his trails with practical efficiency and humility.  

Eleanor Leen, Trail Maintainer: New Jersey Stokes State Forest, Swartswood State Park, and High Point State Park 

Eleanor has been a trail maintainer for nearly five years, starting out with two sections in Swartswood State Park. This past year, she decided to take on more responsibility and adopted two more sections, including the challenging 4.3-mile Iris Trail in High Point State Park. She continually tries to educate herself and grow her skills. Eleanor has also shared her knowledge as a trail maintenance workshop instructor.   

The Jakob Franke Award for Conservation 

Honors volunteers who have advocated for and dedicated significant time and effort to land preservation and trail protection in the face of encroaching development. It is given to those who embody our value that conservation is a shared duty and that we must preserve the integrity of our natural world. 

Richard (Dick) Katzive, Conservation Committee Member, Recently Retired Board Member 

Ten years ago, a revitalized Conservation Committee gathered for their first meeting, and Dick Katzive was one of a handful of volunteers who decided to be part of this important endeavor. Ten years later, Dick is one of only two original members of the committee, and he has continued to embody the spirit of environmental conservation. While Dick has assisted with the broader work of the Conservation Committee, he has also served as the primary leader for several significant land protection projects, such as the Marydell property in Upper Nyack, N.Y. which provides a buffer to the Long Path and space for a reroute of the Upper Nyack Trail, which was previously a road walk. Dick, a Trail Conference Life Member, also served on the Board of Directors for three terms. While on the Board, he was a strong advocate for the work of the Conservation Committee, and he helped to ensure land purchases and other efforts needing approval from the Board went as smoothly as possible.   

The William Hoeferlin Award for Exemplary Leadership 

Honors volunteers who have contributed long-time exemplary service in a leadership capacity by supporting other volunteers and/or spearheading a major project. It is given to those who embody our value of celebrating volunteers and recognizing that they make the trails and protection of the lands we love possible.  

David Booth, Marty Costello, Russ Dooman, Erik Garnjost, Jeff Raskin, Chris Reyling; Crew Members: Long Distance Trails Crew 

Through his leadership, Crew Leader Chris Reyling has fostered a crew that is not only known for performing stellar technical work but also one that has empowered many strong leaders. Along with Chris, crew members David, Marty, Russ, Erik, and Jeff have all demonstrated exemplary leadership for the Long Distance Trail Crew. Through their leadership, the crew has achieved major accomplishments such as the rehabilitation of the 1873 Seely Brook double arch stone bridge on the Highlands Trail at Goosepond Mountain, various trail rehabilitation efforts on the Appalachian Trail and Long Path, and post-wildfire repairs at Sam’s Point Preserve, to name a few. A project they’re currently working on is the relocation of the Upper Nyack Trail from a road walk to the recently protected Marydell property. The dedication and efforts of Erik, Marty, David, Russ, and Jeff have been instrumental in improving crew safety, expanding the crew’s technical skill set, and increasing volunteer numbers and hours over the years. 

 

Howard Liebmann, Local Trail Chair: Northwest New Jersey 

Howie has been the LTC chair for the Northwest Jersey region for six years. As a leader, Howie inspires those in his region to make a big difference by providing them with resources, recognizing them for their efforts, and fostering a culture of frequent, open communication in his region. He is as well-organized, communicative, and punctual as it is possible to be as a trail chair. He treats the role like a proper job position, and everything he does is to that professional standard. Howie has also built relationships with the local New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection State Park partners and represents the Trail Conference warmly and professionally. Howie has been faced with several difficult challenges during his time as trail chair, any one of which would be cause enough for many people to give up the role. His love of the job, however, was enough to keep him going strong even though personal loss and health issues. To not only continue working, but to do so to the highest possible standard, is worthy of special recognition.  

Karl Soehnlein, Trail Supervisor: New Jersey Palisades 

Karl began volunteering with the Trail Conference eight years ago. During that time, he took on many roles. Karl has served as a maintainer, sawyer, crew member, invasive plant surveyor, and trail supervisor. He has demonstrated his talent for teaching by leading Intro to Trail Maintenance workshops each year. He has proven to be an especially accomplished and passionate supervisor, effectively working with five park partners and scores of volunteers to produce the most maintainer work hours in the entire Palisades/Ramapo area.   

Art and Ellen White, Trail Supervisors, Crew Leaders: Ringwood State Park 
Over the past two decades, Art and Ellen’s leadership has made the protection of trails and natural spaces in Ringwood possible. As co-trail supervisors for Ringwood State Park, Art and Ellen have been responsible for transforming our Ringwood trails into a sustainable multi-use system. As leaders of the JORBA trail crew, they have devoted hundreds of hours each year to planning, organizing, and leading crew trips to restore and relocate old trail sections such as the Crossover Trail and Ringwood-Ramapo Trail, as well as to create new trails such as the Skylands Trail. Their combined efforts have produced pathways that imaginatively highlight the topography of Ringwood's ridges and valleys. The Whites' trail legacy will be enjoyed by hikers and bikers alike for decades to come. 

The Raymond H. Torrey Award for Lifetime Impact 

The Trail Conference's most prestigious award honors volunteers who embody our mission and uphold our values. This award is given to those who have made significant and lasting contributions that have impacted the trails, natural lands, people and/or operations of the Trail Conference. 

Estelle Anderson and Bob Jonas 

Estelle Anderson, Local Trail Chair: Central North Jersey; Sawyer Committee Chair; Trail Supervisor: Central North Jersey Morristown 

Robert (Bob) Jonas, Local Trail Chair: Central North Jersey; Sawyer; Trail Supervisor: Central North Jersey Morristown 

Bob and Estelle have touched almost every program and committee within the organization—particularly in their home state of New Jersey, where they co-chair the Central North Jersey Region. They have led trail crews, taught workshops, trained countless trail maintainers, recruited volunteers at trailheads, designed and installed all manner of necessary signage, negotiated trail access with dubious landowners, assisted with land acquisitions, contributed to multiple books, facilitated Regional Trails Councils, and otherwise excelled as volunteer leaders. 

They have established many important new partners for the Trail Conference. Most recently, they've brought Morristown National Historic Park into the Trail Conference fold. Not only has this relationship brought an important new partner into our organization and pushed our southern New Jersey boundary, but the relationship has also strengthened our connection to other NPS units such as the Delaware Water Gap and Appalachian Trail. 

Bob and Estelle demonstrate an unparalleled passion for trails and a commitment to meaningful volunteer leadership within the Trail Conference. They always have the organization's best interests at heart and speak from a position of vast experience and knowledge. 

In addition to their amazing teamwork, they have each impacted the organization in their own unique ways: 

As chair of the Chainsaw Committee, Estelle took on the massive task of coordinating, training, certifying, equipping, deploying, and collecting reports from sawyers across the entire Trail Conference domain. The work of sawyers is a critically important part of the work we do for many land managers and partners, and none of it would be possible without Estelle’s hard work over the last seven years.  

In the constant rush to get to the next big thing, it’s easy to move ahead without looking back. Bob pushed for years to ensure that the Trail Conference’s headquarters would dedicate secure space not just to technical and historic archives, but to a public display area celebrating the history of the organization and the many volunteers who have made our mission possible. This important, permanent fixture is something that would not have been possible without Bob’s commitment to preserving and celebrating our organization’s long history.  


A big thank you to Dave Dion, father of staff member Nicole Dion, and Willow Waters, cousin of staff member Kendra Baumer, for volunteering their artistic expertise and pouring hours into creating our volunteer Board Awards! Dave made our 10 hand-carved Board Awards and Willow crafted our 2 Torrey Awards. They all came out beautifully. 

Addtional thanks to our event photographer, John Rahfield, for volunteering his time to capture this incredible event.

Looking for a New Volunteer Opportunity? 

Outside or inside, close to home or at your go-to weekend wilderness destination, we aim to connect you with the volunteer opportunity that is right for you.  

From walking a new trail clipping back brush or surveying for invasive plants, to volunteering on the Arts Committee, to being a much-needed electrician at our Welch Trail Education Center, there are endless opportunities to give back to the lands you love. Let us know if you'd like to be involved in new ways by emailing [email protected]

 

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