2017 Annual Conference & Membership Meeting

Welcome, Trail friends!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, 2017 Annual Conference

Marcy Kempf, President-Elect, and her family welcome you!

The 2017 Annual Conference and Membership Meeting is taking place Thursday, April 27th – Sunday, April 30th at the Avalon Hotel and Conference Center in Chippewa Falls.

We’ll be celebrating you – the hikers, volunteers, members and donors – and all you do to make the Ice Age Trail the treasure that it is.

GOOD NEWS!  The 2017 Annual Conference just got more AFFORDABLE!

We are excited to announce we’ve been able to REDUCE the cost of the conference attendance by 30%.

A big THANK YOU goes out to this year’s generous sponsors:

Our Members: Tess Mulrooney

Our Chapters: Chippewa Moraine, Lodi Valley, Marathon County, Waushara County, Waukesha/Milwaukee

Our Corporate Partners: Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce, Cohen & Company, Fontana Sports, Godfrey & Kahn, Mayo Clinic Health SystemsThe Shoe BoxWegner CPA, LLC

Registration & Meals

We’ve got fascinating programs, an internationally recognized expert as a keynote speaker, Thousand-Miler stories, and rejuvenating hikes!

Join the fun and Trail friends for the 2017 Annual Conference and Membership Meeting!

Register here
The above link is to our general registration system. Alliance members may also register via our new member-account system (click here to log in). Using the account you can easily register for events, manage your contact info, and renew your membership. NOTE: If you have not yet established your login info (or forgotten it) you can enter your email address to start the process.

You can also download a registration form [PDF] and mail it to the Alliance office by Friday, April 21.

Read about proposed bylaws changes [PDF] to be voted on at the Annual Meeting.

Lodging & Conference Activities

The Avalon Hotel and Conference Center will serve as base camp during the 2017 Annual Conference – conference activities, lodging and meals will all take place there.

Please make lodging arrangements by calling Avalon at 1-888-727-5288 and asking for Ice Age Trail Alliance pricing ($80 per room – 2 queen beds). Special room block pricing will be available until March 27.

Camping is on your own.


Take a look at the conference schedule [PDF]. Highlighted activities are described below, and are available here [PDF].

Highlighted Activities

Photo credit: Joanne Ellarson

The Duff Bucket Challenge

We’re bringing back the Duff Bucket Challenge. Save your small change and make a BIG difference.

Last year’s effort raised a hefty, hand-cart loaded $2,969.98 in coins and $1,000 in checks for a total of $3,969.98!

You set a high bar!

Will 2017 exceed 2016’s grand total?

Blaze: Painting by Will Roberts

Auctions and Raffles

Bring your wallet and competitive spirit.

There will be plenty of compelling items to bid on for the Silent Auction.  Check the bid sheets often to stay a step ahead of your competition!

The evening raffles and auctions will feature artwork like this painting by renowned artist and Thousand-Miler, Will Roberts, and themed gift baskets containing treasures from our Trail Communities.

April 27th

Thursday Field Event: Firth Lake Corridor Clearing/Trail Development 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Adding a new twist to the lineup of annual conference events is the opportunity to participate in a corridor clearing project at Firth Lake. These efforts are in anticipation of new trail to be constructed later in the Mobile Skills Crew season.  You may stay for whatever portion of this event suits you, as your schedule allows.

Thursday 3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. (Concurrent Sessions)

The Trail Simplified: Ice Age Trail Itineraries
If you’ve ever wanted to offer friends and family an easy way to explore the Trail, then you’ll want to tap into the convenience of the IATA itineraries. These thoughtfully created tours make planning an excursion a snap! They cover six regions of our State and guide you to the best spots for hiking, relaxation, and education. Itineraries offer ideas for family-friendly hikes, casual day-hikes, and longer-distance hikes.

Book Discussion: Your Brain on Nature
Jump into what is sure to be a lively discussion (led by IATA staff) about the benefits of nature on human health. The co-author of this book, Dr. Eva Selhub, will be our Friday night keynote speaker. Gain greater insight into the constructive impact nature has on positive emotions, and heightened physical and mental energy. To read this book ahead of time order a copy at Dr. Selhub’s website where additional titles of interest may also be found.

Nebraska’s River of Cranes
Each spring, a half-million sandhill cranes converge on Nebraska’s Platte River, transforming this agricultural region into a land wild with birds. The Platte’s migration habitat draws not only sandhill cranes, but ducks, geese, whooping cranes – and tens of thousands of birdwatchers and nature-lovers. Doreen Pfost, author of This River Beneath the Sky: A Year on the Platte, will talk about the importance of the central Platte River to migrating cranes and waterfowl. She will share stories about conservation challenges, including an irrigation project that threatened the river’s demise, but ultimately led to the creation of Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary.

Thursday 7:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. Trail Mix (Concurrent Sessions)
Hear from the 2016 thousand milers, learn about new Alliance initiatives, jump into a game of cribbage, or catch up with trail friends from other parts of the state. This relaxed opening night will have something for everyone.

Next Gen Conversation
Are you curious about how to engage Millennials in your chapter’s efforts on the Trail? A panel discussion with students from the Environmental Science Department at the UW-Eau Claire will illuminate ways to involve a crucial generation in land conservation and trailbuilding.

Landscape Photography: Tips and Tricks
Adam Smith, of Adam Smith Photography, along with Dave Caliebe, Trail Program Specialist, will present tips and tricks that will help you capture the essence and timeless beauty of the Trail. Adam will focus on foundational concepts which contribute to pleasing landscape photographs.  Dave, whose many photos have graced the covers of Mammoth Tales, have been featured on the Alliance website, will address the key elements to consider when photographing your moments on the Trail.

Walk the Yellow Line
Join Tim Malzhan, Director of Trail Operations as he shares behind-the-scenes insights into the ethics of laying out new trail. You’ll be astounded by the numerous complexities and details to be considered before a new segment comes to fruition.

Thousand-Miler Highlight
Delight in the achievements of your fellow Trail enthusiasts. Celebrate with them as they tell personal stories of their adventures and elaborate on the meaning and impact this journey had in their lives.

April 28th

Friday 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. (Concurrent Sessions)

Hikers’ Forum: Wisdom from the Trail
Be inspired, be informed, and be entertained by the stories and fresh perspective of those who most recently completed their Thousand-Mile Journey.

Small Steps. Big Impacts. – Tyke Hikes
Peter Dargatz of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter established wildly popular Tyke Hikes, which have brought over 1,000 hikers to the Trail in just over tow years. Not only is the formula for successful hikes with tykes is easier than you might think, it’s also more important than you can imagine. Come learn about the joys and rewards of this popular program, and more importantly, how YOU can be part of its future.

Strategic Planning Introduction
Mike Wolmer, Executive Director, will introduce Don Owen and Sandi Marra, of Lands, Trails and Parks Consulting (LTPC). This impressive team was hired to facilitate the 2017 strategic planning process. You’re invited to learn more about this important process which ultimately guides the work of the Alliance staff. The team will be available throughout the conference for one-on-one conversations to discover your thoughts and opinions about what would strengthen the effectiveness of the IATA.

Friday 3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. (Concurrent Sessions)

Father/Son Hiking Adventures
The Ice Age Trail provides a unique bonding experience for those who hike with a partner. Hear about the heart-warming adventures of two sets of father/son hiking pairs, Jon and Chase Jones, and Scott, Kyle and Andrew Kneeland who undertook this journey during the boys’ formative years.

What’s On Tap? 2017 Trailbuilding Season
The Trail needs your special brand of magic to flourish and take root in the hearts and minds and imagination of Wisconsinites. Whether it’s crafting boardwalks and bridges, learning and sharing new skills, or meeting new people and seeing new places, the trailbuilding season ahead is representative of our steadfast commitment to creating, supporting, and protecting the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Learn what’s on tap for new and existing Trail segments in 2017.

Friday 7:15 p.m. – Featured Speaker: Dr. Eva Selhub – “Spirit Medicine”

Ice Age Trail Alliance Annual Conference Dr. Eva Selhub is an internationally recognized expert, physician, author, speaker and consultant in the fields of stress, resilience, mind-body medicine and working with the natural environment to achieve maximum health and wellbeing.

Keynote Presentation: For thousands of years Wisdom traditions have aligned with the notion that the body is a landscape of nature, a part of nature, not separate from it. Science is now concurring, pointing to the importance of nature as part of our journey to health and wellbeing. Dr. Selhub explains how to tap into the power of nature to be healthier and happier. She will speak to how the lack of nature is affecting us, especially our children and what we can do about it.

This event is open to the public ($15.00 at the door; please arrive by 7:00 p.m.)

April 29th

Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Chapter Leadership Summit
This session is a great opportunity for chapter leaders to celebrate successes, discuss challenges, and, most importantly, gather ideas and tools to help in your work for the Trail. This year’s topic will highlight effective communication strategies, finding and activating volunteers, and inter-chapter cooperation.  Bring a friend who might be interested in learning more about chapter leadership!

Saturday 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Annual Membership Meeting and Elections
The Saturday afternoon Annual Membership Meeting is free and open to all members. No conference registration is required. Read about proposed bylaws changes [PDF]. Read biographies for this year’s board of director nominees [PDF].

Saturday: Awards Banquet and Celebration

We’re rolling out the yellow carpet! It will be a big night as we celebrate the accomplishments of our tremendously generous volunteers!

6:30 p.m. – National Park Service Awards
2016 was a record year for volunteers and volunteer hours, demonstrating an incredible commitment to the Ice Age Trail. Please join us for the National Park Service Awards to honor your efforts. Each hour you’ve reported since 2007 makes you eligible for recognition as you pass 100, 250, 500, 1,000 hours (and beyond) in your volunteer career.

8:00 p.m. – Mammoth Achievements: IATA Awards
Celebrate the work of 2016 by recognizing standout volunteers at the IATA Awards presentation. The Spirit Stick, Thousand-Miler, In The Mud, and other IATA awards honor the accomplishments of the many by recognizing a few.

The Hikes: Chippewa Moraine and Harwood Lakes Segments

Spend three days immersed in the scenic beauty of Chippewa County.  The Trail segments pass by glittering kettle lakes, through mesic forests, across winding board walks, and high-relief hummocky terrain.  Find a listing of the hikes here [PDF].

Thursday: Chippewa Moraine Segment, from Rattlesnake Hill Road to the Obey Interpretive Center [4.9 miles]
The hike begins at the parking lot on formidable-sounding Rattlesnake Hill Road. It quickly turns delightful at Dumke Lake where the view gives you visual appreciation for how ice-walled lake plains formed. Horseshoe Lake beckons in the distance. Seemingly, every turn reveals another kettle lake peeking charmingly through the trees.

Friday: Harwood Lakes Segment, from Deerfly Road to CTH-E [3.4 miles]
Today’s hike will take you through a second-growth forest with a high canopy and diverse understory of ferns and woodland plants. A keen eye may spot early spring flowers and it will appreciate the lovely view of Harwood Lakes. This segment offers a rollicking visual feast: rolling hills, tamarack bogs, beaver dams and heron nests. The variety of trees in this mixed forest will have you grabbing for your tree-identification guide.

Note: A shorter option around Picnic Lake will be available.

Saturday: Chippewa River Segment, from CTH-CC to CTH-ZZ (1.8 miles)
Get your fill of stunning views of the Chippewa River as you walk along high, rolling bluffs. Deep ravines, steep topography, and picturesque streams contribute mightily to the visual interest of this segment. The Trail makes its way through forested Krank Nature Preserve before it reaches Perch Lake. Here it bends around the western shore of the lake and heads towards the segment endpoint.