Ambassadors 2013

Inspiring their communities to get involved with the A.T., these Ambassadors are the front line in getting information out about stewardship opportunities and inviting residents to experience the wonder of the Trail.  Meet them. Say thanks:)

Marsha Conner – Dahlonega, GA
Daniel Windham – Helen/White County, GA
Grady and Harrison Garner – Blairsville/Union County, GA
Mary Bennett – Franklin, NC
Anne Baker – Hot Springs, NC
Janet Hensley – Unicoi County, TN
Rob Martin – Unicoi County, TN
J.D. Hibbitts – Damascus, VA
Diana Billips – Bland County, VA
Tim Miller – Troutville, VA
Jennifer Keck– Luray/Page County, VA
Alyson Browett – Front Royal/Warren County, VA
Wendy Hershey – Harpers Ferry/Bolivar, WV
Paul Smith – Duncannon, PA
Cassandra Kessman – Harlem Valley A.T. Community (Dover & Pawling), NY
Patty Harding – Monson, ME

Marsha ConnerMarsha Conner is no stranger to the Dahlonega, GA community, its history, people, and culture. Her namesake, Conner, has been a family unit in Dahlonega for several generations. Learning about the outdoors in the North Georgia mountains has been a part of her life since she was a child. As a college student at The University of North Georgia (’73) in Dahlonega, Marsha spent her free time exploring the backroads and trails of the North Georgia mountains in her spiffy, yellow VW Beetle. After career years in North Carolina and exploring the NC/VA Highlands, Marsha returned to the North Georgia area and resumed exploring the forests and the rivers she had known in her youth. Marsha is co-founder of a hiking group at her church, and has planned recreational hikes, camping events, and outdoor adventures for over six years for this group. Marsha’s professional background includes an MEd degree from the University of Georgia (’75) and experience in law enforcement, public safety, military, training, aviation, and marketing. She looks forward to putting her skills to work on behalf of the ATC and Dahlonega to promote Dahlonega as a great Appalachian Trail Community. marshaconner@live.com

DanielAt an early age, Daniel dreamed of being a hiking guide in the Alps.  Taking the first opportunity to travel through Europe, he jumped at the occasion.  Now, and for the past 18 years,(15 of which living in N. Italy), Daniel has guided throughout the world, working with Rainier Mountaineering, and Wilderness Travel.  “As my family has grown, now with 3 children, the moment has come for dedicating more time to being home, and to giving back to the wilderness, a little of what it has given me.” sauteevalley@yahoo.com

summit pictureHarrison and Grady Garner,  are brothers from Blairsville. Grady graduated from Young Harris College with a B.A. in Music and Harrison works for Blairsville’s Humane Society Thrift Store Operation and Animal Shelter.  Both brothers successfully thru-hiked the A.T. in 2012. garnerbrothers@gmail.com

GE DIGITAL CAMERAMary Bennett has lived in the Franklin community for twenty years and loves the mountains and forests in the Nantahala region. She is an educator, artist, horticulturalist, and hiker.  She enjoys working with local schools, designing environmental service learning opportunities for students and leading nature-oriented activities for families.  Her passion is discovering the woodlands natural beauty as  it inspires her creativity and artwork.   This being her second year as Franklin’s Ambassador, she is enthusiastic about introducing more people to hiking, camping, and backpacking along the A. T. aussiemarie@yahoo.com

AnneA Madison County native, Anne has a double Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Technical Photography from Appalachian State University in Boone. She has professional experience in media, social networking and in the field of education. Her passion for the Trail developed last summer while hiking the A.T. with her father, completing a total of 200 miles through TN and NC.  “I’ve seen what the Appalachian Trail means to the community and what the community means to the Trail. I’ve realized that the Trail provides a wonderful place for family and friends to come together in a way that only the stillness of the woods allows.” hotspringsambassador@gmail.com

Janet HensleyJanet, AKA Miss Janet, has been involved with the A.T. in Unicoi County for a number of years as the owner of one of the town’s hiker hostels and as the coordinator of A.T. Summit Seminars, meant to generate greater understanding and positive relationships between hikers and the local business community. This is her second year serving as a Unicoi County A.T. Ambassador.
themissjanet@gmail.com 

RobMartinJune2012Joining Miss Janet this year is Rob Martin. Rob graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. He is an ATC member and a Life Scout in Boy Scouts of America. As an A.T. Community™ Ambassador, he plans to volunteer his time maintaining the Trail and providing support to hikers. As an avid outdoorsman, Martin frequently hikes along the A.T. and kayaks in the Nolichucky River.
robert.stanley.martin@gmail.com

J.D.J.D. Hibbitts grew up in Southwest Virginia, but roamed the globe for a few years as an enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force. After finishing his enlistment, he enrolled at Emory & Henry College. Most recently, he finished his M.F.A. at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He has been a dishwasher, a granite salesman, a warehouse worker, and a writing instructor. His writing appears in the following publications: ThugLitSan Pedro River Review, AT Journeys Magazine, Sugar House ReviewClinch Mountain ReviewPrime Mincer, Jimson Week, Blue Collar Review, Poydras Review, and The Sierra Nevada Review, among others.
jdhibbitts@gmail.com

Diana Billips 2013 Diana is a board member of the Piedmont A.T. Hikers, operates the club’s hiking program, including monthly hikes, family FUN hikes and the “70 Mile Club.” She is responsible for maintaining a section of the A.T., is a lifelong resident of southwest Virginia and an avid hiker. This is her second year as an Bland’s Ambassador.    blandambassador@gmail.com
timTim attended Virginia Tech and attained a BS Degree in Forestry and Wildlife and a MA in Education.  He is currently a teacher at Central Academy Middle School in Botetourt County where he completed the ATC’s Trail to Every Classroom program in 2011. Miller is an Eagle Scout, lifelong hiker and backpacker.  gmiller@bcps.k12.va.us

Jennifer KeckJennifer serves on the Front Royal/Warren County A.T. Advisory Board, but is a liaison as Ambassador to Luray and Page County.  She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BS  in Agriculture. She is the president of the Shenandoah Valley Tourism Association and the former Director of Tourism for Front Royal.  A trained Master Naturalist, she hopes to promote Trail-friendly policies in the local government.  jkeck83702@gmail.com

Alyson (2)Alyson is an avid hiker and naturalist who has spent time in the woods around northern Virginia her entire life. As a public health professional, personal trainer and chef, she is interested in making people more mindful of how health, exercise and nutrition intersect. She hopes to use her position as an A.T. Ambassador to build a stronger awareness of the Trail, encourage volunteerism, conservation efforts and inspire community members to go outside for some fresh air.  abrowett@gmail.com

Wendy HersheyWendy has a BA in Communication Disorders & Speech Science from the University of Colorado. She is an A.T. section hiker and looks forward to promoting Trail awareness with community outreach, educational events, Trail maintenance projects, and community hikes. Over the past four years, she successfully organized the Valentines for Vets program in her community, delivering over 300 handmade Valentines to local Veterans Hospitals each year. “I am passionate about the Appalachian Trail.  I love exploring on it.  I love the history behind it.  I love the permanence of it.” Bekota@aol.com

Paul Smith, 2012 Ambassador to Duncannon, PA Paul Smith has a Degree in Forest Technology from the Pennsylvania College of Technology. He was involved in the designation of Duncannon as a Trail community in 2012 and helped coordinate the completion of a Trail themed mural in town. He enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, gardening, and planting trees. This is Smith’s second year as the A.T. Community™ Ambassador to Duncannon, and he serves as treasurer on the Advisory Committee. rivers.26@hotmail.com

CassieCassandra Kessman has a degree in Environmental Studies from MCLA in North Adams, Ma.  She has a love for gardening and native plants and works at Native Landscapes located next to the Appalachian Trail in New York.  She has hiked small sections of the trail in NY, CT, MA, VT and NH providing trail magic to hikers when possible.  She is also the educational director for the Pawling Nature Reserve and enjoys leading educational hikes for her community.  On her days off she enjoys yoga and continuing her education of plants through studying herbalism. c.h.kessman@gmail.com

patty 2
Patty Harding is a member of the MATC, Maine Appalachian Trail Club, where she is a trail maintainer on Barren Mountain and corridor monitor in the Hundred Mile Wilderness. She is an avid outdoors woman enjoying year round outdoor activities with a passion for Maine’s mountain summits. Patty is a Registered Maine Guidein Recreation and Sea Kayak. She leads kayak and moosewatch tours on Maine’s rivers, lakes, ponds and ocean through her guide service.  pattyguideme@yahoo.com

A Seed Was Sown; An A.T. Community Bloomed

The seeds of the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community (Pawling and Dover, NY) were sown at the Dedication of the A.T. Boardwalk in Pawling on Sunday, July 1, 2012. Photo below, more here.

boardwalk

During the ceremony, ATC Executive Director Mark Wenger mentioned that he was in Warwick the day before celebrating their dedication as the first AT Community in New York State.  An hour later, Pete Muroski invited a group of us next door to his business, Native Landscapes, where we engaged in a lively Q&A with Karen Lutz, Pam Underhill, Ron Rosen and Jim Haggett on how to become an A.T. Community.  A Working Group was formed and we had scheduled our first official meeting – subject to the attendance of the Dover and Pawling Supervisors Courtien and Kelly –  before we walked out the door.

The best part of managing the six-month process was being part of a strong team without which the application would never have been produced.  Pete and I became Co-Chairs of the Working Group, and our A.T. Community Advisory Committee is comprised of two town governments, four public and private schools, community leaders, local and regional environmental organizations, the business community, and our ATC representatives. In addition, we have the support of our Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, our Dutchess County Planning Commissioner Kealey Salomon and our Dutchess County Tourism Executive Director Mary Kay Vrba.

Our Working Group circulated countless drafts in order to produce a quality application, one with input from a broad group of diverse stakeholders.  I am particularly proud of the Letters of Support we received on behalf our Application, measure of the enthusiasm for the project.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yekyw1baxml3r1s/Nnqyp6scob.

– From Stancy DuHamel, Co-Chair of Advisory Committee

Dover and Pawling, NY Awarded Appalachian Trail Distinction

Harpers Ferry, WV (March 05, 2013) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), along with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference approved the application for partnership to officially designate Dover and Pawling, New York as an A.T. Community™. The collaboration of these two communities working to protect and celebrate the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) paid off this past weekend with the approval to become the newest Appalachian Trail Community™.

The Appalachian Trail Community™ is a new program of the ATC, the nonprofit responsible for management and protection of the A.T. Working with a growing network of trailside community partners, the program recognizes and thanks communities for their part in promoting the A.T. as an important local and national asset as well as an international icon.

Pawling and Dover, known as the Harlem Valley A.T. Community, will form the 30th A.T. Community™ to enter into the partnership, and the second in New York. The two towns  developed an Advisory Committee to coordinate the application and ongoing activities to promote and celebrate the A.T. as a local and national park and ecological resource.

Both Dover and Pawling Town Boards unanimously approved resolutions to apply for designation as an A.T. Community. Receiving over 35 letters of support from elected officials, businesses, educators and organizations in the area, the application had strong a commitment to support the A.T. through activities such as developing an A.T. appreciation day, and working with each school district to create distinct projects linking K-12 curriculum to the A.T. Pawling and Dover Middle/High Schools will also collaborate to establish an inter-school A.T. Service Learning Club.

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has already seen a great amount of community effort in supporting the A.T. with the development and dedication of the new boardwalk last year,” stated Julie Judkins, community program manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The 1,600-foot, oak-decked boardwalk includes a 34-foot bridge and crosses the length of the A.T. across the Great Swamp in Pawling. More than 75 volunteers spent two and a half years constructing the route, some coming from as far away as Italy and Great Britain. “Building off that enthusiasm and adding new partners to the management effort will increase local stewardship and expand sustainable tourism efforts.”

Over the coming months, the ATC will work with the community to plan a ceremony to officially designate Dover and Pawling as the Harlem Valley A.T. Community™.  In addition to this upcoming event, which will include speakers and hikes, the ATC will provide signage, recognition in its publications, and other benefits tailored to each community.

The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. The A.T. is a unit of the National Park System, stretching from Georgia to Maine, at approximately 2,180 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. Volunteers typically donate more than 220,000 hours of their time doing trail-related work each year, and about 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year.

For more information about the A.T. Community™ program, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/atcommunity.

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy 
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail, ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow and for centuries to come.For more information about the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, visit www.appalachiantrail.org.

Contact: Julie Judkins
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 828.254.3708 x11
Fax: 828.254.3754
Email: jjudkins@appalachiantrail.org
Web: www.appalachiantrail.org