Trail Conference Staff Update: Winter 2020

February 01, 2020
News
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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Trail Conference Staff Update: Winter 2020
Trail Conference headquarters in the winter. Photo by Jeremy Apgar.

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The Trail Conference welcomes Olivia, Kathleen, Arden, Ryan, and Lenny to our trail family and wishes Michael the best of luck on his next adventure.

Olivia Sohn, Volunteer Engagement Assistant

Olivia Sohn spent her childhood exploring the trails of Norvin Green State Forest. Her love of the outdoors prompted her to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology at The College of New Jersey. After graduation, she served two AmeriCorps terms as a Trail Crew Leader for the Trail Conference Conservation Corps, building stone staircases in the Catskills and mountain biking trails in Sterling Forest. Olivia then moved to the West Coast, where she practiced a holistic approach to riparian conservation, first conducting stream habitat surveys for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and then restoring salmon habitat as the assistant supervisor for the Washington Conservation Corps. Olivia is thrilled to be back at the Trail Conference once again, now as the Volunteer Engagement Assistant, working with the tireless volunteers that made her time as a Corps leader so memorable.

Kathleen Bezik, Executive Assistant

Kathleen Bezik joined the Trail Conference full time in October as the Executive Assistant. Prior to this position, Kathleen served an AmeriCorps term with the Trail Conference Conservation Corps as a member of the Aquatic Invasives Strike Force Crew. She graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and has five years of research experience studying a variety of subjects, from neuroscience to marine ecology. Kathleen is fascinated with nature and values an adventurous and curious approach to outdoor conservation. From swimming with sharks as a dive volunteer at a local aquarium to hiking trails in the area, she is passionate about sharing the outdoors with others.

Arden Blumenthal, Conservation Dogs Program Assistant

Arden Blumenthal, our Conservation Dogs Program Assistant, first joined the Trail Conference as a volunteer for the Conservation Dogs Program in the spring of 2019. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech, where she worked with various species of wildlife, including the elusive Eastern hellbender salamander. She went on to pursue a master’s degree from Purdue University in ecology and evolutionary biology. Arden is passionate about human-wildlife conflict mitigation, animal behavior, and conservation biology, which has led her to start a career as a conservation dog handler. In her free time, she enjoys all outdoor activities, trying new breweries, playing board games, and baking.

Ryan Goolic, Terrestrial Invasive Species Project Manager

Ryan Goolic’s love for nature was fostered at a young age through years of outdoor activities with the Boy Scouts. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in environmental studies from The College of New Jersey. He got involved with invasive species by spending time in a research lab that focused on how invasives and deer interact with the native forest plant communities. After graduation, he spent two years serving with AmeriCorps. His service included managing invasive plants with the Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force, building trails in Sterling Forest, and restoring and protecting aquatic resources in Montana. Ryan spent 2019 as the Invasives Strike Force Crew Leader before transitioning to the position of Terrestrial Invasive Species Project Manager. When he’s not waging war against invasive plants, you can find him looking for interesting bugs and fungi, cooking for friends and family, and unwinding through gaming.

Lenny Bussanich, Marketing and Fulfillment Coordinator

Lenny Bussanich, our Fulfillment Coordinator, comes to the Trail Conference with more than 20 years of experience in the outdoor industry. His most recent role was as Social Media Content Strategist and Partnerships Manager, where he helped elevate his former employer’s branding within the outdoor community. At the same time, he renewed older and established new relationships with nonprofit organizations dedicated to outdoor education and stewardship. Lenny is passionate about the outdoors and trails and hikes or bikes regularly on the weekends.

Happy Trails to Mike

Michael Young, Former Terrestrial Invasive Species Project Manager

Michael Young, our former Terrestrial Invasive Species Project Manager, has left the Trail Conference to pursue other opportunities. In 2015, he received his bachelor degree in landscape architecture with a concentration in ecological design from Rutgers University. Throughout his career, Mike has interned with the Central Park Conservancy, spent two seasons with Maplewood Township in New Jersey as a horticultural specialist, and worked as a material planner in corporate aviation for Dassault Falcon Jet. Earlier in life, he was the trail maintainer for Greenbrook Nature Sanctuary along the Palisades, where a desire to protect our native environment was fostered. More recently, he was a crew member of the 2016 Invasives Strike Force Crew. We wish him good luck on his next adventure!

Remember: The safest place right now is at home.