Trail Conference Annual Awards are determined by the Board of Directors upon recommendation by the Volunteer Committee.
The following awards were given in 2015.
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.
John Blenninger, nominated by Sona Mason and Harold Hill
John has been a Trail Conference member for 44 years. He has been Trail Supervisor of Black Rock Forest for 35 years and Storm King State Park Trail Supervisor for more than 20 years. His attention to detail is second to none. A dedicated trail volunteer, he is known for his meticulous paint blazing—each blaze is a work of art.
William Hoeferlin Award:
Recognizes Trail Conference volunteers who have demonstrated exemplary service to trail maintenance, management, and/or trail land protection.
Jim Gebhard, nominated by Sona Mason and Dave Webber
A field checker, trail crew member, sawyer, maintainer, and former Trails Chair, Jim has a love affair with the trails at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. He was instrumental in reopening the heavily overgrown trail sections along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail race route. A regular with the West Hudson North Trail Crew, he adds special touches to enhance morale.
Gail Neffinger, nominated by Ed Goodell
A long-time volunteer and Trail Conference Life Member, Gail is packing his boots and moving to North Carolina. Since 1995, he has been Chair of the Orange-Rockland Appalachian Trail Committee. From 1990-2001, he served as a member of the Trail Conference Board of Directors. Gail has been the NY-NJ Trail Conference Trails Council Chair and is stepping down from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Stewardship Council, where he represents the Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Council.
Paul Leikin Extra Mile Award: This award recognizes those volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to projects such as a book, map or advocacy.
Suse Bell, nominated by the Publications Committee
A member of the Publications Committee since 2003, Suse produced the Trail Conference’s Book Production Manual and has indexed several Trail Conference guide books. She files for copyrights to protect the Trail Conference’s books and maps. As part of our partnership with the New Jersey State Parks, Suse has served as the Project Coordinator for the production of 15 trail maps.
Alice Luddington-Cantor, nominated by the Membership and Development Team and Chris Connolly
Since 2010, Alice has been a Membership and Development volunteer, primarily working on the capital campaign to restore the historic Darlington Schoolhouse. She oversaw the grants received from public funding and also wrote proposals to secure funding from private donors. Alice’s expertise in writing and editing were essential for this project. She wrote nominations for the Trail Conference for two historic preservation awards—the Bergen County Historic Preservation Award for adaptive use and the New Jersey Historic Preservation Award—both of which the organization won. She was a key player in executing fundraising events, assisting with invitations, press releases, and blog posts. She sat on the Stakeholder Action Team and was a member of the Headquarters Grand Opening Committee and the Membership and Development Committee.
Arnie Seymour-Jones, nominated by Gary Willick
For eight years, Arnie has come to the office weekly to methodically and prolifically assemble our map sets. Working behind the scenes, yet vital to the functioning of the Trail Conference, Arnie has put in a lot of “trail miles” with all the map sets he has assembled!
Ken Lloyd Award: This award r
ecognizes 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.
Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO), nominated by Chris Connolly
Founded in 2008, the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO) is primarily composed of high school and college students from Mahwah, N.J., and neighboring towns. MEVO has logged 18,000 hours on projects that promote environmental sustainability in local communities. MEVO's activities include the Earth Crew summer intern program, which sponsors student volunteer leaders and members to organize recycling bin distribution, pollution clean-up, agriculture, and trail repair and rehabilitation projects. Over the past two years, the Earth Crew volunteered over 800 hours on Trail Conference trails in Bergen, Passaic, and Rockland counties.
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.
Zachary Kunow, nominated by Wayne Kunow
For his Eagle Scout project, 15-year-old Zachary chose to build a 60-foot truss bridge on the Long Swamp Trail in Sterling Forest. The project involved over 735 hours of volunteer labor from his troop and Trail Conference members. Once the bridge was completed, Zach proposed to his troop that they maintain the trail, which they are now doing. He has built and installed 10 wood duck boxes in strategic locations in the park. Zach arranged for instruction about invasive plants and then had the troop remove over 200 invasive bushes.
Distinguished Service Awards:
Given by the Volunteer Committee to recognize significant service or a special achievement by Trail Conference volunteers.
Irene Auleta, nominated by Chris Connolly
As an active member of the Stakeholder Action Team responsible for fundraising activities for the Darlington Schoolhouse, Irene contributed to the Trail Conference's success in helping to obtain the funds necessary to build the new headquarters. She was also integrally involved in the planning of the Darlington Schoolhouse "standing-room-only" ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Susan Barbuto, nominated by Chris Connolly
As an active member of the Stakeholder Action Team responsible for fundraising activities for the Darlington Schoolhouse, Susan contributed to the Trail Conference's success by helping to obtain the funds necessary to build the new headquarters. She was also integrally involved in the planning of the Darlington Schoolhouse "standing-room-only" ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Hanna Benesch, nominated by the Membership and Development Team
In early 2013, Hanna began volunteering weekly with Membership and Development, but her ties to the Trail Conference date back to 1980, when she became a member. Hanna is a dependable data entry resource, and as an essential part of the team, enabled Membership and Development to focus on fundraising. In the summer of 2014, Hanna was particularly helpful during a personnel transition, volunteering an extra day each week.
Wendell George, nominated by Doug Senterman
Since 2011, Wendell has been managing the Catskills roving trail maintenance crew for the Catskill Mountain Club and the Trail Conference. The crew includes volunteers from the Trail Conference, Catskill Mountain Club, Rip Van Winkle Hikers, and the 3500 Club. Under his leadership, their work has kept many Catskill trails open to hikers.
David Haas, nominated by Chris Connolly
As a member of the Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce, David worked with the Chamber to sponsor a 5K road race that raised funds for the Trail Conference. In addition, he was involved in the planning of the Darlington Schoolhouse "standing-room-only" ribbon-cutting ceremony and the grand opening.
Lee Mott, nominated by Gene Giordano
Active since 2009, Lee has built moldering privies at all the Appalachian Trail shelters in New Jersey, constructed the new Brinks Shelter, and assisted in the construction of the Appalachian Trail Community Kiosk on Route 17A in Warwick. Lee is an active member of the West Jersey Crew and helps organize the ad-hoc crews to assist maintainers when they submit help requests.
James Mott, nominated by Dave and Monica Day
Since 2012, James has been a "stalwart and stout fellow" of the West Jersey Crew. His work is excellent and his efforts nearly limitless. Jim has been a major positive force with the West Jersey Crew by always joining in on ad-hoc crews along the Appalachian Trail corridor. An all-around good guy, he will do whatever he is asked—or more—with enthusiasm.
Howard and Susan Reed, nominated by Howie Leibmann
Stokes State Forest is a special place for Susan and Howard. This dynamic trail-maintaining duo met in 1995, when Susan went on an organized hike on the Paulinskill Valley Trail in Stokes State Forest. While on that hike, she met her future husband, Howard. After getting married in 1997, Susan and Howard decided to give back to the trails where they met. In 2003, they started maintaining trails in Stokes State Forest.
Will Soter, nominated by Doug Senterman
Since June 2014, Will has served as Trails Chair for Catskills Region 3. Always more than willing to help out whenever and wherever he can, he fills vacant trail sections and spreads the word about the Trail Conference and its mission throughout the region.
Martin Stratton, nominated by Doug Senterman
Since 2009, Martin has performed trail maintenance and served as a Trail Supervisor for multiple sections of Catskills Region 3. He has a strong work ethic and covers any vacant trail sections, helps maintainers when needed, and simply does not stop until the job is done.
Jill Weber, nominated by Bob Ward
Recently retired after 38 years of service, Jill served as the Rockaway Park Administrator for the past eight years. Jill was instrumental in the development of the Bayswater Trail. She served as the liaison between the Trail Conference and the New York State Forest that had jurisdiction over the land for the proposed trail. She provided tools, supplies, and manpower to cut and clear a portion of the trail.