Trail Conference Annual Awards are determined by the Board of Directors upon recommendation by the Volunteer Committee. The following awards were made in 2014.
Honorary Life Member:
Conveys life member status and the right to vote at Delegate's meetings. Usually given after long (greater than 20) years of extraordinary service to the Trail Conference.
Ron has been involved with the Appalachian Trail since 1976 and was chair of the Dutchess Putnam AT Management Committee from its inception until 2009. Ron fostered cooperation among maintainers, monitors, and partners as well as recruits and retains volunteers. He kept records of hours of service so that “his” volunteers were eligible for the NPS service awards. When corridor monitors needed to be trained, he developed a workshop which became a model for training for the ATC. With three AT committees in NY and NJ, there was a need to coordinate activities and a coordinating committee. Ron was the obvious choice. He also became the NY-NJ Trail Conference delegate to the Mid Atlantic ATC Regional Partnership Committee. ATC conferred Honorary Membership to him in 2011.
Pete and Jo-Ann Senterman
In 1989, starting with the Dutchess-Putnam Appalachian Trail Management Committee (DPATMC), Pete Senterman began his long history of volunteering. He shifted his focus to the Catskills eventually stepping up to be the chair of the Catskill Committee, serving for 17 years. Pete recruited hundreds of volunteers, offered training and appreciation events, and developed a deep working relationship with the NYS DEC. His efforts ensured the continued presence of the Trail Conference in the Catskills. Even after retiring as a Trail Chair, Pete continues to represent the Trail Conference. He leads a special projects trail crew, attends public meetings and informational sessions and serves on the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve Advisory Committee. Pete is truly Mr. Catskill. While Pete has been busy with projects in the Catskills, his wife, Jo-Ann, has been busy behind the scenes. She has managed the many trainings, workshops, meetings, and picnics that occurred in the Catskills over the years that Pete was the Trails Chair. At many events she made sure dozens of people knew where they were going and were properly fed throughout the day. Even today Jo-Ann remains MrsCatskill Caterer in Chief. She continues to volunteer in the background, attending outreach events and helping with the logistics, planning, and catering of many of our most recent activities.
Paul Leikin Extra Mile Award: This award recognizes those volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to projects such as a book, map or advocacy.
Chris Reyling and the Long Distance Trails Crew
The Long Distance Trails Crew spent many weekends during the last two work seasons on the Long Path in the Catskills. They were the backbone of the multiple weeklong service vacations that were spent on the mountains. The entire crew deserves recognition for the work that they did. Following are the core members of the group: Crew Chief Chris Reyling; Crew Leader Erik Garnjost; Crew members David Booth, Marty Costello, Russ Dooman, Bob Fuller, Charlie Morgan.
Gely and Jakob Franke
The Long Path is Jakob Franke’s “baby” and his wife, Gely, is right there helping behind the scenes. Jakob’s septuagenarian ways fill his aura with smiles and good will and he demonstrates by doing. Gely not only did trail work but for the Phoenician reroute, she volunteered to be the camp cook. preparing home cooked meal ready when the crew returned to camp.
Highly experienced with both print and digital publication, Eugene Reyes helped pave the way for e-book publications. He informed the Publication Committee about the production process, then guided them through their first e-book publication, by providing additional guidance to the book designer so that when a book was laid out, it could be more easily converted.
John has served as North Jersey Trails Chair since 2004, during which time which he has expanded our trail network in the Ramapos dramatically and also helped with the North Jersey map sets. John has also developed connections with the park managers, nurtured countless people to take on additional responsibilities, and worked with Eagle Scout candidates to complete their projects.
Volunteering in multiple ways, Cliff Berchtold believes in paying back for the decades he has spent enjoying trails. After maintaining a section of the Scenic Trail (Long Path) in Minnewaska State Park Preserve for 18 years, he now maintains the Townsend Trail in Sterling Forest. Cliff helps with Trail U workshops, was the top surveyor for the Invasive Strike Force in 2013, and spends many hours in the Trail Conference office processing ISF data.
Committed to the trails in our region, Pete Tilgner also volunteers to the Trail Conference office operations. Since 2001, Pete has been coming to the office to mail membership cards and free maps. His reliability in this role is matched by his impeccable manners, sense of humor, and appreciation of the hiking opportunities in the region.
Steve puts the "pro" in pro bono. Over the past 10-years, Steve has provided the Trail Conference with countless hours of his professional legal services free of charge. Steve has long been a trusted, advisor to the Trail Conference on personnel and legal issues, always available in offering his calm counsel, prompt and objective in his response, and always maintaining confidentiality to the utmost.
Ken Lloyd Award: This award recognizes members of Trail Conference member clubs or member clubs who have demonstrated exemplary service to trail maintenance, management, and/or trail land protection. It is usually given after more than seven years of service.
Ralph’s Peak Hikers (RPH) Cabin Volunteers Club
For 15 years, the Ralph’s Peak Hikers (RPH) Cabin Volunteers Club, an AT Trail Crew in Dutchess and Putnam Counties, has worked on heavy duty trail projects that are beyond the capacity of the maintainers. In addition to maintaining the RPH Cabin Shelter, their projects have included puncheon, turnpiking, bridges, and steps. In addition, for 15 years they have organized a three-day work weekend with a multi-day BBQ and trail projects suited to all skill levels. This weekend project has attracted local volunteers as well as those coming from a distance.
Next Generation Award: Given to those under age 21 who are making significant contributions of time and energy to trail building or protection. An awardee may be an individual or a group.
Matt Whittle was a junior in high school when he first volunteered as an Invasive Strike Force intern and fell in love with invasives. For his Eagle project he organized a team to remove invasives and plant native species. He became a certified pesticide applicator and has encouraged adults to volunteer. During the summer of 2014, he served an AmeriCorps member on the Invasive Strike Force team. In the fall of 2014, Matt matriculated at William Paterson University.
Erika Schneider-Smith, signed up to be a member of our Invasive Strike Force in September 2012, when she was 15 and a sophomore at Bio-Technology High School in Monmouth County, NJ. She was one of the top surveyors that year and returned the following summer, bringing along a friend for most of the miles. Now a senior, she has continued to survey.
Emma Chilton volunteered as a trail builder for more than 100 hours in 2013, first at Sterling Forest and then at Bear Mountain. An environmental engineer major entering her junior year at Cornell University in 2014, on her days off from an internship, she continues to volunteer at the office and do trail work.
William Hoeferlin Award: Recognizes Trail Conference volunteers who have demonstrated exemplary service to trail maintenance, management, and/or trail land protection.
Dedicated describes Andy Garrison for both his land acquisition efforts for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) as well as building and then managing it. Andy also has led the effort to reroute the Long Path in the Catskills to eliminate a road walk. When he leads a work trip, he arrives earlier than the crew members and makes at least one extra trip to bring equipment to the work site. He invited other trail crews to join him and established week long backcountry work trips disguised as camping trips. The preparation and detail in planning has made these trips a success. Under Andy’s leadership the new trail was built and opened to the public in only two years.
Salley Decker has a multiple decade volunteer history with the Conference that includes being an AT maintainer for over 25 years, active participant in the Dutchess/Putnam AT Management Committee, helping with the 2007 ATC biennial meeting hosted by the TC, and, in 2014, spearheading the local efforts to establish a trail crew for the historic Stone Church Preserve in Dover, NY.
Chet Morris has been volunteer trail supervisor in Stokes State Forest and Swartswood State Park since 2003. He is more than just a supervisor; as a certified sawyer, he puts his heart and soul into making sure that downed trees are removed immediately. When a call comes in, he grabs his chainsaw and heads out to the trails to help wherever he is needed.
Don Derr Award: Recognizes Trail Conference volunteers who have demonstrated exemplary off-trail service such as publications, advocacy, land conservation, development, membership, and office work. It is usually given after more than seven years of outstanding service.
George Petty, a poet, writer, editor, and retired college professor, has served on the Trail Conference Publications Committee, for a time as chair, since 2001. In addition to being the author of Hiking the Jersey Highlands, George served as project manager and editor of several editions of Hiking Long Island. George's words of wisdom, dedication, and exceptional commitment to the Publications Committee exemplify an off trail volunteer.
George Becker's actions, commitments, and leadership have made significant, positive impacts on the Trail Conference. He was one of the earliest volunteer leaders and supporters of the Darlington Schoolhouse project and has continued to be a driving force behind our successful fundraising campaign. As a long standing member of the Darlington Schoolhouse Stakeholder Action Team, he played a significant role in helping the Trail Conference raise public awareness for the Schoolhouse, the campaign, and our organization as a whole.
Major William A. Welch Trail Partner Award: Presented to those outside the Trail Conference (for example, state, federal or local agency partner officials) who have given long and/or significant assistance to the local hiking community. It is usually given after more than seven years of service.
Todd Cochran, Superintendent of the Bergen County Dept. of Parks, has been always at the ready to support Trail Conference volunteers and staff,
whether it is a crew, tools, materials, a place to store tools or transportation when and where it is needed within Ramapo Reservation, Camp Glen Gray, and Campgaw. He has assisted with the Darlington School House, hosted chainsaw courses, and helped with approvals for projects. Todd has made time for several meeting to prioritize projects and lend support and input for our outreach efforts with Ramapo College.
Erik Humphrey and the Staff at Minnewaska State Park Preserve - Eric Humphrey, Park Manager, Jorge Gomez, Asst. Park Manager, Laura Connor, and Nick Martin nominated by Sona Mason.
Always helpful with trail projects, Minnewaska State Park Preserve’s staff transport materials and tools for trail projects. In many instances they also transport the crew saving them valuable time to work on projects. They are a pleasure to work with.
Corporate Partner Award: Given to businesses or their employees for outstanding service to the hiking community
Morgan Outdoors (owner Lisa Lyons)
A small business owner, Lisa Lyons has volunteered her time and her space at Morgan Outdoors to promote the Trail Conference and has hosted Trail Conference workshops and events since 2011. She has recruited volunteers for hikes and trail work and is now the crew chief of the Willowemoc Trail Crew, which is improving the trails in the southwestern Catskills. Her efforts have given the Trail Conference a presence in a region where we traditionally did not adopt trails.
Leo Rothschild Conservation Award: Presented to a person or organization that has made a significant contribution to the protection of our trails and/or the natural lands that surround them.
Friends of the Shawangunks
For over 50 years, the Friends of the Shawangunks (Friends) has exercised vigilance and vigor in preserving the Shawangunk Ridge. The Friends was founded to “marshal public opposition to a proposed ‘Skyline Drive’ along the top of the ridge.” That battle was won as have many since. Friends was a leader of the coalitions that fought to protect Lake Minnewaska, establish Minnewaska State Park Preserve, and add the Awosting Reserve to the park. Friends has successfully challenged many ridge development proposals, protecting the natural environment for us all.
Distinguished Service Awards: Given by the Volunteer Committee to recognize significant service or a special achievement by Trail Conference volunteers.
Howard "Pete" France
Pete has been the Northern Catskills Chair since 2009, tirelessly working to ensure that volunteer supervisors and maintainers have the tools and t information they need in order to tackle trail maintenance in the Catskill Park. He’s always been a good team player, excellent with paperwork and follow-up, and has managed to keep trail maintainer vacancies to a minimum throughout his region.
Trail maintainer on the Timp-Torne Trail and Appalachian Trail in Harriman State Park for more than 20 years. Rich has also helped to clear countless blow-downs after snowstorms and tropical storms/hurricanes of recent years.
Trail maintainer on the 1777E Trail in Harriman State Park for more than 20 years. Bob has also helped to clear blow-down after blow-down, especially after the late fall snowstorms and tropical storms/hurricanes of recent years.
Pitching in to help is a way of life for Marci Layton. In 2009, she began volunteering by assisting with trail maintenance; her contributions to trails soon became greater and broader. She became a trail maintainer, a swamper assisting sawyers, and a trail crew member. Marci also assists in field checking maps and guidebooks in Harriman State Park.
Since 2012, Mark Nordyke has been an active invasive plant surveyor and member of the removal crew of the Invasive Strike Force. He has been the crew member with the most number of hours. In 2014, he has surveyed more than 130 miles of trails. It is said that Mark generates data on invasives almost faster than it can be recorded by ISF office volunteers.
On his own initiative, Peter developed and gave to the Trail Conference "Hike Finder". This addition to our website is a searchable map that shows where the hikes listed on our website are, results can be filtered by location, difficulty. and other criteria.