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

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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

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Helen and White County Celebrates!

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Helen and White County Leaders Celebrate A.T. Community Designation
Photo courtesy Charles Ernst

Town leaders, county officials, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) volunteers, ATC, US Forest Service and others making up around 75 people were in Helen, GA on Fri Nov 30th celebrating the newest A.T. Community. After a beautiful national anthem played by GATC volunteer and lead in getting the application processed, Charles Aiken, the event kicked off with a welcome from the emcee and A.T. Community Committee chair, Steve Gibson.

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Forest Supervisor of Chattahoochee National Forest, Randy Warbington
Photo courtesy Charles Ernst
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Tom Aderhold
Photo Courtesy Charles Ernst

Tom Aderhold, a GATC past president and Park Service 50 Year of Service Awardee, spoke about some of the Club’s early trials with the southern terminus and the significance of the Club’s work on the Trail’s development and protection.  After excited remarks from the Mayor, the Forest Supervisor, GATC president, ATC’s Executive Director and a proclamation signing with the county commission chairman and Mayor, the crowd  walked up the road to an old lodge steeped in history, relevant to GATC and the Trail. Around the ceremony were historic pictures of early GATC meetings that took place at the Greear Lodge.  David Greear, the grandson of the GATC member who gathered the club at his abode, currently lives at the lodge and invited the public back there for a reception and recreation of one of the early photos.

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David Greear describes the 1930’s photo and invites everyone back for the reception
Photo courtesy Charles Ernst
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Recreation of the 1930’s GATC meeting and photo
Photo courtesy Charles Ernst
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1931 GATC meeting
Photo courtesy David Greear

For more pictures of the ceremony and reception:
http://davidgreear.zenfolio.com/p497084107

More on White County:

With its rich cultural heritage – dating back to the Gold Rush of the 1820s – White County has always invested in the community’s history. With money and resources devoted to cultural centers such as the Sautee Nachoochee Center and the Folk Pottery Museum, White County displays an unwavering commitment to preserving and protecting the county’s diverse background, while also educating tourists and residents on the historical events that took place here, none of which are any less significant than the start of the Appalachian Trail!

Hikers who begin the A.T. in the foothills of White County are surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty – nestled among winding vineyards and scenic state parks. Wildlife, waterfalls and covered bridges find their home in White County, and it’s no wonder that so many choose to start the hike of a lifetime here.

Others flock to the area to enjoy the famous Babyland General, home to the timeless Cabbage Patch Dolls. With festivals held year-round – from Helen’s Oktoberfest to Unicoi State Park’s Festival of Trees – White County offers something for every season – and everyone.

For more information on White County, visit:
http://www.helenga.org/
www.whitecountychamber.org