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!