The Alliance Welcomes a New Trail Program Intern

By Justine Kapitzke, AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Trail Program, Trail Intern, Intern, Riley Dupee
Trail Program Intern, Riley Dupee, poses outside of the Ice Age Trail Alliance office in Cross Plains. Photo by IATA Staff.
Riley knew from the start that she would be the perfect addition to the Ice Age Trail Alliance team. To be exact, when she read that we were looking for someone with office experience who is also comfortable sleeping in the woods overnight, her reaction was, “Yeah! That’s me!”

Growing up on a campground outside of Pardeeville, WI, Riley spent much of her childhood exploring the marshes and woodlands surrounding the campground. She has lived in other states but feels a special connection to Wisconsin. As she noted, “I didn’t find that attachment to the land anywhere else.”

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Meet Melissa Pierick

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Melissa Pierick, Director of Marketing and Community Relations
Melissa Pierick, Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

The staff and board of the Ice Age Trail Alliance are thrilled to welcome Melissa Pierick, our new Director of Marketing and Community Relations!

Melissa will work closely with staff in the Trail, Lands, and Philanthropy programs to improve specific program and cross-program advancement through marketing and outreach. She will implement short- and long-range initiatives associated with the strategic plan and other operational goals, especially those which maximize the Alliance’s profile, reputation, and image.

The members of the Communications staff peppered Melissa with a few questions, excited to learn more about her:

What excites you most about your new role? 

I am very excited to have the opportunity to help spread the word about this amazing National Scenic Trail that we are SO lucky to have in Wisconsin. I believe every resident in Wisconsin should know about it—even if they’re not hikers.

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Ice Age Trail Alliance Receives Hartzog Volunteer Group Award

By Dan Watson, Volunteer Coordinator, National Park Service – Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance Headquarters in the Village of Cross Plains. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.
Ice Age Trail Alliance Headquarters in the Village of Cross Plains. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance won the National Park Service George and Helen Hartzog award for the Midwest Region – Volunteer Group Award out of 21 outstanding nominations submitted in recognition of 2020 efforts.

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Help Our Precious Pollinators!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Land Stewardship, Lands Program
Blooming butterfly milkweed provides nourishment for a monarch caterpillar. Photo by Kelly S. Anklam.
Project Wingspan, a conservation project with Pollinator Partnership, is looking for volunteers who are interested in collecting native seed in their areas to contribute to biodiversity for pollinators. This landscape-scale project expands from Wisconsin into Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Arkansas. Continue reading

Joining Forces to Improve Water Quality

By Luke Kloberdanz, Director of Philanthropy for the Ice Age Trail Alliance

When kindred spirits come together, it’s all smiles. Members of the Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation present a $25,000 check to Ice
Age Trail Alliance staff. Standing left to right in front of an enormous kettle of New Glarus Brewing Company brew is Ciaran O’Neill-Culhane, Eric Felt, Riley Miller, Mike Wollmer, Kari Haser, Luke Kloberdanz, and Drew Cochrane. Photo by Susan Moen.
When kindred spirits come together, it’s all smiles. Members of the Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation present a $25,000 check to Ice Age Trail Alliance staff. Standing left to right in front of an enormous kettle of New Glarus Brewing Company brew is Ciaran O’Neill-Culhane, Eric Felt, Riley Miller, Mike Wollmer, Kari Haser, Luke Kloberdanz, and Drew Cochrane. Photo by Susan Moen.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is proud to call Wisconsin home. The land, the people, and the Trail connecting these places and communities are core elements of our work. In recent years, the Alliance launched its Corporate Friends program, further advancing our mission to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The family is growing!

Recently, the Alliance joined in partnership with an iconic brand, New Glarus Brewing Company and its Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation. Established in 1993, the New Glarus Brewing Company’s philosophy is based on individuality, cooperation, and the employment of 100% natural ingredients to produce world-class, handcrafted beers. Like the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which meanders exclusively throughout the state, the New Glarus Brewing Company proudly claims their beers are brewed “Only in Wisconsin”.

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Trail Steward of the Year Award: Jerry Sazama

We Make a Life by What We Give

By Tricia Baker, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Trail Steward of the Year, Jerry Sazama
Jerry Sazama, 2021 Trail Steward of the Year, is in his element, leading the morning round-up at a Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
While we feel like explorers as we hike the Ice Age Trail National Scenic Trail, it is important to remember the people whose footsteps we follow. The dedicated and inspiring volunteers of the Ice Age Trail Alliance make the Ice Age Trail the national gem that it is. Each year, we recognize our most esteemed volunteers. One award, the Trail Steward of the Year, recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to Trail management and development.

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Ice Age Trail Community Partnership Thrives in Slinger

By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Slinger, Trail Community, Trail Community Celebration, Mammoth Hike Challenge, Monty, Monty the Mammoth
Monty the Mammoth and Hootie the Owl oversee the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new multi-use trail in October 2020. From left to right: Joe Fay, Slinger - Allenton Rotary; Monty the Mammoth - Ice Age Trail Alliance; Russ Brandt - Village of Slinger President Hootie the Owl Slinger School District Mascot; Wally Steger - Slinger Allenton Rotary. Photo courtesy of Village of Slinger.
In October 2020, the Ice Age Trail Community of Slinger opened a multi-use, community trail that hosts a new section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The multi-year effort to build the trail came about through strong partnerships and coordination between the Village, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA), and multiple landowners, businesses, and community organizations.

The new route of the Slinger Segment replaces a previous 0.7-mile road walk with a new 0.9-mile section of Ice Age Trail connecting the Slinger Segment to the Cedar Lakes Segment. The scenic trail corridor passes through Slinger’s Community Park and continues north along wetlands adjacent to Little Switzerland Ski Area. Continue reading

Do-dos and Don’ts of Dog Poop

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Dog Poop, Dog Poop Bag, Dog, Trail Etiquette, Leave No Trace
Remember your baggies! Ice Age National Scenic Trail users should pack out ALL of their pet's dog poop while hiking, Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Dog waste is more than a nuisance to hikers on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: it also can cause water quality issues and negative health effects for humans and wildlife. For these reasons, Ice Age Trail users should plan to pack out all dog waste generated by their pet while hiking.

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AmeriCorps VISTA Member Joins the Alliance!

By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Justine Kapitzke, VISTA, AmeriCorps, Spring, Headquarters, Cross Plains
Justine Kapitzke began her year of AmeriCorps VISTA service in April 2021. Photo by Elena Mederas.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is pleased to welcome Justine Kapitzke as the newest addition to the Alliance communications team! Kapitzke is joining the Alliance as an AmeriCorps VISTA member through Conservation Legacy’s Stewards Individual Placement Program.

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Happy Anniversary, Kevin … 20 Years!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Director of Land Conservation, Kevin Thusius
In 2000, a young man applied for a position with the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation as its Eastern Field Coordinator based in West Bend. A two and a half hour interview ensued, and a day later, Kevin Thusius accepted the position. Within 24 hours, he was meeting with a landowner in Door County. That’s baptism by fire, but it was a productive meeting. It would eventually lead to a permanently protected corridor for the Ice Age Trail 12 years later! Talk about patience. Continue reading

We are hiring an AmeriCorps VISTA member!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, AmeriCorps VISTA, Stewards Individual Placement Program, Hiring
The Ice Age Trail Alliance believes the 1,200-mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a place where all people can enjoy and embrace the unique natural landscapes and cultural histories of Wisconsin, while finding physical and mental renewal in a peaceful setting, and an enduring spiritual connection to the land. In addition to the personal wellness and motivation one finds on the Trail, the broader community benefits from this resource. Indeed, the characteristics of the Trail are the same forces which create a variety of economic development streams communities may capitalize upon.

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IATA Preserves Benefit from Knowles-Nelson Funding

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Liebetrau Prairie, Table Bluff Segment, Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund
The Liebetrau Prairie in full bloom along the Table Bluff Segment. It's a view courtesy of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Photo by Gary Hegeman.
Strung like pearls along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail’s winding route are both beautiful and geologically significant properties owned by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Take, for example, the Marimor Preserve, in Taylor County, known for hosting one of the state’s finest examples of a terminal moraine. Another is the Moraine-Outwash Preserve in Langlade County – it offers spectacular views across the Antigo Flats and illustrates its name-sake glacial feature. And then, the Muir Preserve, in Marquette County, which protects the area surrounding John Muir’s boyhood homestead, allowing Wisconsinites better to appreciate the land’s hold and influence on Muir.

Another commonality among these properties? The Alliance purchased them using matching grant funds awarded from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

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We’ve Partnered with Target Circle

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Target Circle, Voting
We are excited to announce that the Ice Age Trail Alliance has been chosen to participate in a special charitable giving campaign, sponsored and funded by Target. And you have the chance to help direct a portion of Target’s donation to us!

Each purchase you make at Target, online or at a store – provided you’ve signed up for the Target Circle program – earns you the opportunity to vote. You can keep voting multiple times during the campaign!

Thank you for your support, and we encourage you to share your support for us (and your thanks to Target) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!

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Support the Trail Through Online Shopping!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Gibraltar Rock Segment, Santa, Santa Claus, Winter, Holidays
You're not the only one who loves the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: Santa enjoys a hike or two as well! Consider supporting the Ice Age Trail while online shopping this holiday season and help protect the places you love.

This holiday season, consider supporting the Ice Age National Scenic Trail while buying gifts for the people you love!

There are several ways you can support the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this holiday season AND get all of your holiday shopping done. See a list of three ways you can shop online and support the Ice Age Trail below.

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Spend Your Thanksgiving Holiday on the Ice Age Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Hiker, Fog, Mammoth Hike Challenge, Fall, October
Looking for an alternative to large gatherings and Black Friday shopping this Thanksgiving holiday? How about a stroll on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail! Photo by Joshua Fager.
With many Thanksgiving and Black Friday plans canceled, you may be looking for safe and family-friendly alternatives to gatherings. When making your holiday plans, consider taking a walk on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It may be the perfect place to slow down, find internal peace, and gain clarity during the season of gratitude.

However, the Thanksgiving holiday also takes place in the heart of the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Keeping this in mind, we have 13 hikes to share with you where deer hunting is not allowed. All of the following suggested hikes take place in or near Ice Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.

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Donors Instrumental in Protecting Rice Lake Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Rice Lake, Rice Lake Preserve
Sunrise on Rice Lake bog in Marathon County. The efforts of 111 donors will help us conserve 64-acres along Rice Lake and Rice Lake Creek. Photo by Roger Zimmerman.
Wow! For the second time this year, generous donors stepped up to help the Ice Age Trail Alliance permanently protect a future home of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The support of 111 donors will help create a 64-acre preserve along Rice Lake and Rice Lake Creek in Marathon County.

Fundamental to this campaign’s success was Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust, which also kindly supported our efforts to protect and expand the Rice Lake Preserve.

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Enhance Biodiversity Through Seed Collecting!

By Eva Ballering, Land Steward at the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Prairie, Sunset, Summer
A blooming prairie in summer: insects buzz from flower to flower, enriching themselves on sweet nectar. Thick leaves rustle loudly in the hot humid air. Purples and yellows blend together at the horizon. Photo by Eva Ballering.
Following the phenology of the season can be one of life’s greatest pleasures for prairie enthusiasts. With the late summer burst of color, in its final hurrah for the season, the majority of plants start to wind down and prepare for winter. Although this is a notable event, the prairie has been busy all season.  By the time the prairie is in full bloom, many species have already taken their turn to flower, attract pollinators, and produce seed.

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Ray Zillmer Award: David Kinnamon

By Sevie Kenyon, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ray Zillmer Award, David Kinnamon
David Kinnamon is a recipient of the Ray Zillmer Award, which honors those whose work exemplifies the long-range, big-picture ideals that inspired the establishment of the Ice Age Trail. Photo courtesy of David Kinnamon.
The Ray Zillmer Award recognizes individuals whose work exemplifies the ideals that inspired the establishment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This year, the award recipients are David Kinnamon and David Phillips, both of whom have steered the course of the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s history.

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Ray Zillmer Award: David Phillips

By Sevie Kenyon, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
David Phillips (pictured above) is a recipient of the prestigious Ray Zillmer Award. Photo by Elena Mederas.
David Phillips (pictured above) is a recipient of the prestigious Ray Zillmer Award. Photo by Elena Mederas.
The Ray Zillmer Award recognizes individuals whose work exemplifies the ideals that inspired the establishment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This year, the award recipients are David Phillips and David Kinnamon, both of whom have steered the course of the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s history.

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Trail Steward of the Year Award: Gail Piotrowski

By Bill Polacheck, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Trail Steward of the Year, Gail Piotrowski
Gail Piotrowski affixes a temporary blaze to help mark a newly opened section of Trail. Photo by Rachel Roberts.

While we feel like explorers as we hike the Ice Age Trail National Scenic Trail, it is important to remember the people whose footsteps we follow. The dedicated and inspiring volunteers of the Ice Age Trail Alliance make the Ice Age Trail the national gem that it is. Each year, we recognize our most esteemed volunteers. One award, the Trail Steward of the Year, recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to trail management and development.

Bill Polacheck spoke with this year’s winner, Gail Piotrowski. Gail is a Co-Coordinator for the Central Moraines Chapter.

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Our Commitment to Justice and Equality

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Statement of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Alliance is committed to making the Ice Age Trail and our community of supporters a safe and inclusive experience. Photo by IATA staff.

Outdoor spaces are everyone’s right to enjoy without being subjected to danger, suspicion, and violence. The tragic events in recent weeks, resulting in the senseless deaths of black Americans, exposes a challenge to our mission that goes well beyond the Trail.

Simply, we are appalled.

The Alliance is wholly committed to making the Ice Age Trail and our community of supporters a safe and inclusive experience for all people. Continue reading

Hiking Responsibly During a COVID-19 Pandemic

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Hiking Responsibly, COVID-19, coronavirus

Note: Updated 5/27/2020

A hike on a favorite segment of Ice Age National Scenic Trail offers mood-boosting fresh air and sunshine and provides a respite from the uncertainty around us. The Ice Age Trail is a perfect place for slowing down, gathering your internal resources, and gaining clarity.

It’s also important, while we are out exploring the Trail, that we remain respectful of the fact COVID-19 is still in our midst. It’s important to help stop the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve with considerate and responsible behavior.

Is Hiking Still Allowed?

Yes! It’s allowed and good for you, too! However, best practices call for thoughtful social distancing.

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Preventing Tick-borne Illnesses

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month!

With warm weather enticing hikers into Wisconsin’s wild spaces, it’s a good time to consider how to prevent tick-borne illnesses while recreating outdoors. Tick-borne illnesses typically first cause flu-like symptoms and usually can be treated with antibiotics if caught early. Untreated, they may cause serious health problems, including death in rare cases. Information on tick-borne illnesses and tips to prevent tick exposure can be found below.

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Mammoth Steps to Reconnect

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mammoth Steps, National Trails Day, Straight Lake Segment, Polk County
Overjoyed to Reconnect with the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Mary Johnson.

National Trails Day, Saturday, June 6, 2020

A Day to Reconnect, Refresh, and Assess.

Some days feel like they take FOREVER to get here. This year, Saturday, June 6, National Trails Day, is one of those. We’re marking its arrival by joining together and taking Mammoth Steps on behalf of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

This day will be among the first opportunities for Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers to get back to doing what they love best: creating, supporting, and protecting the Ice Age Trail.

It’s a day to reconnect with the Trail from which they’ve been apart during the last few months.

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Mammoth Beauty Celebration!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mammoth Steps, National Trails Day, Lodi Marsh Segment, Dane County
A mother and son enjoy a spring saunter on the Lodi Marsh Segment in Dane County. Photo by Joshua Fager.
Imaginehikers safely sauntering along the entire Ice Age National Scenic Trail from end to end in a single day!

Imagineif they photographed the best features of the Ice Age Trail along the way: the expansive views, tread unfurling ahead, and ephemerals peeking up from the forest floor.

Imaginea snapshot of the Ice Age Trail, in its entirety, as it looks on a single day!

This vision could become a reality with your help.

We have 120 Ice Age Trail segments waiting for you to enjoy, camera in hand and eyes finely-tuned for beauty, as part of our National Trails Day celebration on Saturday, June 6.

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