Challenges Don’t Slow MEVO Crew
MEVO (Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization), in partnership with the Trail Conference, recruits college students to serve on a seasonal trail crew working in Northern New Jersey.
This season’s MEVO Crew, emerging from uncertain times, embodied resilience. Half of the crew commuted from South Jersey, driving an hour-plus each way. They were tossed from isolation into a social environment, which had its own challenges—and they had to adapt, working as a team, supporting each other, and supporting projects, all while social distancing and navigating a pandemic.
The crew this year started training in Sterling Forest, assisting the Trail Conference’s crews on a new trail that is planned to be accessible by hikers, bikers, and horses. From there, the crew worked on a Sonoma Lake Trail reroute in Norvin Green State Forest, as well as improvements on the Reservoir Loop in Ramapo Valley County Reservation and stone step installation in Ramapo Mountain State Forest. One of the most important projects was the completion of the Burnt Meadow reroute in Long Pond Ironworks State Park, which was started by the 2019 MEVO Crew but postponed due to surprise thunderstorms. In addition to the three days of work the 2019 crew put in, the 2020 crew improved an additional 115 feet of trail, completing the project.
The 2020 MEVO Crew accomplished so much despite the lack of volunteer support due to the pandemic—as well as other challenges tossed their way, such as a massive tree that fell during a tropical storm in Ramapo Mountain State Forest, but luckily spared their work. It wasn’t all hardships, however: The crew had the pleasure of being part of a wedding proposal in Ramapo Reservation in July, and we somehow dug up a heart-shaped rock, which the couple definitely enjoyed seeing. In spite of the challenges, the crew rolled through, completing projects that have been on the backlog for years.
Special thanks to Dr. David Kopp and Dr. Ronnie Stout-Kopp for contributing the cost of the crew leader stipend that helped make all this great work possible.
MEVO Crew interns were trained by members of the Trail Conference Conservation Corps and staff. MEVO provides summer internship programs as well as volunteer opportunities throughout the spring and fall.