Let’s Rendezvous!

photo by Tim Malzhan

photo by Tim Malzhan

As the calendar shuffles along toward spring and shadows get shorter our thoughts of trailbuilding are gaining momentum. Soon it will be time to slap new laces on steel toes, pick up a fresh pair of gloves and file a clean edge on the pick mattock. In a few short months we’ll be back in morning roundup and our tools of the craft will have a nice patina of duff and sawdust. Until these warm thoughts come to fruition, we’re planning on helping you scratch that trailbuilding itch with the Winter Rendezvous!

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photo by Dave Caliebe

Just like the French voyageurs of the past, hearty souls will gather at UWSP – Treehaven in Tomahawk from February 5 – 7 to share stories of winter adventures, enjoy the landscape and rekindle fires. Please join us and catch up with old friends or make new, and find out what is in store for the 2016 Mobile Skills Crew season. There will be plenty of frivolity mixed in with x’s and o’s. No previous trailbuilding experience is necessary as all are welcome. You can register and see a full agenda here.

We look forward to seeing you at the Winter Rendezvous or on the Trail in the near future. Until then, we hope your thoughts of creating new Ice Age Trail experiences break up cabin fever and help you gain a spring in your step.

Alliance Accepting Scholarship Applications

For decades Wisconsin citizens have rallied around the Ice Age Trail, from when the idea of a thousand-mile footpath was freshly born to when the first tread was built. The future of the Trail will rely on future generations to carry on vision. The Ice Age Trail Alliance is making a down-payment on the future with the Doug “Stickman” Sherman scholarship.A photo of Doug "Stickman" Sherman

The scholarship is awarded to a college-bound young adult who has volunteered with the Alliance, in honor of the work of Doug “Stickman” Sherman, a longtime Alliance volunteer who passed away in 2014. Over a number of years, Stickman hand-carved hundreds of hiking sticks for students taking part in Saunters, the Alliance’s school program that brings kids onto the Ice Age Trail.

For weeks on end, students carried Doug’s creations all across Wisconsin – along the shores of the Wisconsin River, on towering bluffs overlooking Devil’s Lake, through the deepest northwoods forests, around the crags of Eau Claire Dells and across vast prairies.

The sticks provided balance, confidence and a helping hand. In essence, Stickman was with young hikers every step of the way as they explored the Ice Age Trail and took on a steady calm that only the solace of nature can provide. We are happy to carry on Mr. Sherman’s positive impact to tomorrow’s Trail supporters through this scholarship.

                                                  How to Apply

photo by Leah Bradley

photo by Leah Bradley

The Doug “Stickman” Sherman Scholarship is a one-time $500 award and is open to young adults who are preparing to go to college. In order to qualify, applicants must have:

• A history of volunteering with the Ice Age Trail Alliance and/or serving as a Saunters mentor
• A love of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and a desire to create, support and protect the Trail for future generations
• Future goals that include a degree in the environmental or education fields or a related field

Interested students should reference the application form [PDF] for complete instructions on how to apply. All submissions must be postmarked by September 30th, 2016.

Volunteers take first step toward opening new Rib Lake Segment

Crew members look on as a volunteer places a rock while building new trail.

Volunteers made the first large-scale trailbuilding project of the season a great success! The Rib Lake Mobile Skills Crew project in Taylor County saw 2,000 feet of newly-constructed trail, another mile cleared and ready for construction and 190 feet of new stone retaining wall.

This was the first project in building and opening the 4.7-mile Rib Lake Segment. Volunteers will be back with another MSC event in September to keep the rolling stone moving forward.

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Call for volunteers – upcoming MSC event: Rock County!

The next stop for the MSC program brings us to the Storrs Lake Segment June 24-28, just outside of Milton in Rock County. Join fellow volunteers for a day of being outside, working with your hands and enjoying good company!

The Milton Moraine left behind dry kettles settled by massive white oaks and shagbark hickories, and the event will delve into the heart of this landscape. Work to be done includes a half-mile reroute, boardwalk repair, signage upgrades, a full-blown attack on invasives andprep work to create…drum roll please…a new 1.5-mile section of trail to the north!

Learn more and register here

 

Thelma Johnson wins National Park Service 2014 Hartzog Award

Volunteer Thelma Johnson takes in the sun at a Mobile Skills Crew Project

Celebrating you, the Ice Age Trail volunteers, at our 2015 Annual Conference, we announced one of our proudest volunteer recognition awards given by the National Park Service. Thelma Johnson of Cumberland, Wis. is the 2014 recipient of the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Enduring Service. Congratulations, Thelma!

Dan Watson, National Park Service Volunteer Coordinator for the Ice Age & North Country National Scenic Trails, submitted the winning nomination for Thelma for the 2014 award.

See a snapshot of Thelma’s dedication to feeding her fellow volunteers through an excerpt from Dan’s nomination:

“Drawing large crowds to fairly remote areas in Wisconsin for back-breaking trail work isn’t easy, yet the Mobile Skills Crew and 12,000 volunteers continue to make the Ice Age National Scenic Trail successful. The food may have something to do with that.

For the past 12 years, Thelma Johnson, now 80 years old and still going strong, has fed an army of volunteers along the 1,200-mile trail. She has donated more than 2,000 hours to serve more than 30,000 meals to hungry volunteers. She commands a crew of cooks to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner for projects that run five days at a time.

Camping alongside the trail crews, she’s the first one up, setting up her mobile kitchen by flashlight at 4:30 a.m. She’s often the last to stop work in the evening, scouring pots as crews rest by the campfire. Finding food for the masses in remote areas may be difficult, but Johnson has kept it flexible and frugal, clipping coupons to keep the budget down.

Johnson’s selflessness and dedication have been noted by fellow volunteers. She is known to have dumped personal contents of her suitcase to fit more food for workers and to have sat in her car to keep her fingers warm in the frigid cold while peeling mountains of onions.”

Thelma’s positive attitude and constant smile add the extra touch to the hard work Dan described, and we’re grateful to have her as a volunteer on the Ice Age Trail!

As Thelma demonstrates, trailbuilding is more than swinging a pick mattock or using a chain saw. Join fun, welcoming and hard-working volunteers at a Mobile Skills Crew project this season and choose from a variety of jobs. You may even get to experience Thelma’s famous bread pudding!

 

Help build new Ice Age Trail in Taylor County May 27-31

The hills and forests around Rib Lake in Taylor County have a rich history. From the great Wisconsin glacier that shaped the terrain 10,000 years ago to men atop ice sleds hauling hardwoods to build Milwaukee and Chicago in the last century, our stories abound.
IATA Mobile Skills Crew program logo
In the 1970s, efforts to create the Ice Age National Scenic Trail took root in the area. Join forces with volunteers young and old during a Mobile Skills Crew project to build a new section of the Ice Age Trail near Rib Lake!

The project takes place Wednesday, May 27 through Sunday, May 31. You’re welcome to join for any amount of time – even a few hours are a big help!

Learn more and register here.

We hope to see you soon!

 

 

A shout out to volunteer crew leaders

At the end of March, 23 volunteers gathered for the first-ever Crew Leader Retreat. This was a chance for those who lead fellow volunteers on the Ice Age Trail to spend time together in an environment of reflection, learning and growth.

Volunteer Wendell Holl reflects

Many of those who attended are certified as crew leaders through our Crew Leadership and Skills training, and others are on the path to crew leadership. Everyone contributed to an inspiring weekend focused on leadership on the Trail.

The volunteers moved through some team-building challenges, training modules and lots of idea sharing. The enthusiasm to continue improving how we do work on the Trail was infectious!

A group of participants at the Crew Leader Retreat work through a team-building exercise.

Thank you to all those who participated – this is a group of seriously passionate and dedicated people. If you know or work with a volunteer crew leader on (or off) the Ice Age Trail, send a thank you their way!