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.
I first met Kevin when I volunteered for a proposed Trail program for aspiring crew leaders in 2002. Along with former Trailway Director, Tim Malzhan, the two of them brought the Mobile Skills Crew program to life with 19 participants. Kevin’s skills and experience were very evident to me on day one.
His commitment and dedication to the Foundation grew, and in 2004 he was promoted to Land Stewardship Coordinator and moved to Dane County. His charge was specific: achieve compliance for the Foundation with Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices; write what would become over 25 management plans for properties; craft almost 50 baseline documents to provide acceptable and durable records of the Foundation’s land archives.
Noteworthy Achievements Since 2008:
- 119 properties were permanently protected
- 7,466 acres were protected
- 52 new miles of Ice Age Trail (are, or soon will be, available)
In 2006, the Foundation found itself with growing pains, both financially and organizationally. As we grew and became more sophisticated, the organization struggled with finding common ground with partners, volunteers and chapters. Kevin’s pleasant demeanor and progressive attitude brought a measure of stability in difficult times. On top of all that, he had to deal with and help “train” a newbie Executive Director…me.
In 2008, he was again promoted, this time to his current position of Director of Land Conservation. His primary (not only) responsibility was to acquire land aggressively for the Trail. Doing so included assisting our partners to do the same.
In a recent conversation with Kevin, he fondly recalled many, many great volunteers, landowners, partners and coworkers. It was clear, he has come to regard most as friends. And through the long arc of friendship, he’s been able to witness the happiness the Trail provides these folks as well as share in some of life’s inevitable sadness.
The finest measure of success is not his tenure, but rather the spirit he has brought to so many of the Alliance’s successes.
Mike Wollmer, Executive Director