To show our appreciation and recognize the incredible work of hundreds of volunteers and other friends of the Trail, we give out a series of awards. The following awards recognize the dedication, inspiration and longevity that many volunteers bring to the Ice Age Trail.

Make a Nomination

Visit our Award Nominations page to nominate a volunteer or other Trail supporter for an award.

“In the Mud” Award

This award is given to member volunteers who display a willingness to roll up their sleeves on behalf of the Ice Age Trail and a dedication to our organization’s mission. They consistently show up at workdays, dive into the dirty work and make significant efforts to establish the Ice Age Trail. These volunteers epitomize the bedrock volunteer spirit responsible for building trail.

Download a list of past “In the Mud” award recipients.

Years of Service Award

We recognize individuals who have shown true dedication to the Ice Age Trail through their years of active volunteering. Volunteers receive this award at 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40- (yes, 40!) year milestones.

Download a list of past Years of Service award recipients.

Ray Zillmer Award

This award recognizes those whose work exemplifies the long-range, big-picture ideals that inspired the establishment of the Ice Age Trail and continue to inspire its development.


  • 2001: David Obey

Henry S. Reuss Award

This award is given to individuals whose work through government channels at multiple levels has made a significant impact on the Ice Age Trail. It emphasizes the recipient’s ability to move influential parties to take an active role in our mission; maintain an ongoing public relationship as a Friend of the Trail; bring about significant change for the Ice Age Trail; and shift the political climate to benefit the Trail.


  • 2004: Tammy Baldwin
  • 2001: Kevin Shibilski

Spirit Stick Award

The Spirit Stick Award symbolizes long-term dedication and service to the Ice Age Trail. Nominees for this award exhibit a passion for the Trail that has become a way of life. They lead by example, inspire those around them, and carry out their service with a spirit of optimism, cooperation and enthusiasm. We present this award to only one recipient each year.

The Spirit Stick, featuring the face of a wood spirit and the engraved names of all Spirit Stick winners

The Spirit Stick


  • 2016: Dean Paynter
  • 2015: Russ Helwig
  • 2014: Bill Welch
  • 2013: Sharon Dziengel
  • 2012: Craig Sanford
  • 2011: Luke Kloberdanz
  • 2010: Gary Klatt
  • 2009: Bess & Bernie Alberg
  • 2008: Dean Dversdall
  • 2007: David Phillips
  • 2006: Ken Neitzke
  • 2005: Joe Jopek
  • 2004: Nancy Lazzaroni
  • 2002: Butch Siegel
  • 2001: Bill “Kangaroo” Knickrehm
  • 2000: Gary Werner

Public Partner Award

This award recognizes individuals whose work in the public sector has provided dedicated, ongoing service for the Ice Age Trail, above and beyond regular duties.


  • 2011: Terry Jensen
  • 2010: Brigit Brown
  • 2008: Tom Presny
  • 2008: Tom Gilbert
  • 2004: John Wald
  • 1997: Janet Beach Hanson

Friend of the Ice Age Trail Award

This award recognizes foundations, businesses and other organizations for their strong support of the Ice Age Trail. These recipients have given significant monetary contribution to the Alliance through either a single donation or over many years; enabled new capacity within our organization through financial contribution or partnered with us in another significant way.


Excellence in Staff Service Award

From time to time, our Board of Directors may recognize staff members who have exhibited exceptional and long-term dedication to our mission. This award recognizes staff who have fostered positive working relationships between staff, volunteers, partners and communities and have served as an exemplary face of the Ice Age Trail.


  • 2016: Jo Ellarson
  • 2016: Kevin Thusius
  • 2012: Tim Malzhan

Mammoth Society

The Mammoth Society is considered the most prestigious level of membership to the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to our organization, for example, through the facilitation of significant land access, 30 years or more of active membership to the IATA, service as a board member for at least two full terms, or a substantial planned gift to the Alliance. This award grants lifetime membership.


  • Bess & Bernie Alberg
  • Jerry Goth
  • Lee Swanson
  • Anonymous

National Park Service Volunteers In Parks Awards Program

All Alliance volunteers are eligible for the National Park Service Volunteers In Parks (VIP) awards program. Every volunteer in our database has a “career hours count” that began January 1, 2007. The Park Service awards volunteers as they log hours in increments of 100, 250, 500, 1,000 and beyond.

Each time a volunteer passes a 250-hour increment, he or she also receives a federal Interagency Volunteer Pass that waives entrance fees at all federally administered recreation sites (national parks, national forests, etc.) for one year.