Celebrating the Invaluable Volunteer

March 31, 2020
Executive Director Joshua Howard
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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Celebrating the Invaluable Volunteer

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When we say volunteers are our superheroes, it’s not an exaggeration.

There are some names synonymous with the Trail Conference. They are the founders, volunteer leaders, presidents, and executive directors who formed and shaped this organization into a 100-year-old nonprofit that, in good times and bad, has never failed to help connect people with nature.

You’ll find some of their stories in Vistas and Vision, the book chronicling our first 75 years. As we approach our Centennial, volunteers on our Publications Committee are hard at work updating that book with stories of the last 25 years. Maybe one of them is yours. Here you’ll find more names of people who embody the Trail Conference spirit. They’re the volunteers and supporters who have gone above and beyond in the last year to help ensure you have a great experience on our region’s trails. Meeting them at our Volunteer Appreciation Event and hearing about why they give back and love caring for trails and natural areas was a real privilege. When we say volunteers are our superheroes, it’s not an exaggeration. These are the people who make it possible for me to go on a hike with my kids on a Sunday afternoon, or sneak in a quick trail run on my lunch break. They do it for you, too.

I’d like to take a moment to also recognize those volunteers who don’t have their names immortalized in a book, and those who might not ever receive an award for their efforts. Nevertheless, these volunteers—the ones who dutifully paint blazes and survey for invasives and package maps—are the backbone of our organization. We ask our maintainers to inspect their trails two times a year; maybe that’s all a particular trail needs, and maybe that’s all a particular volunteer does. But let me assure you—that work is invaluable. It is replicated 100 times over, all across the Hudson River Valley and beyond, by people called to protect the land they love. That is incredibly special. And that’s why I couldn’t be more honored to serve as the Trail Conference’s executive director as we enter our second century of service.

We’re not able to recognize each of these 2,000-plus volunteers by name, but we do try to show our deep appreciation in word and deed. Whether you’re currently serving the organization or do so in the future, we are dedicated to ensuring each and every one of you has a fulfilling experience as a Trail Conference volunteer. In fact, that’s why we’ve reorganized the structure of our program staff. You are vital, and as our cover story says, your service is essential.

So if you do see one of our volunteers on the trail, ask their name. Say thanks. Share your story and theirs by emailing [email protected] or by tagging @nynjtc on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’d love to share your volunteer appreciation with the trail community.

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