By Justine Kapitzke, AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Support Specialist
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.”
Riley’s connection to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail also runs deep. She has many fond memories with her family out on the Ice Age Trail. When asked about her favorite segment of the Trail, she elaborated, “The Baraboo Segment runs right through town, it’s all paved, so I walk that with my Grandma. I really love the Blue Hills Segment because that one is a little more challenging, and I have two brothers who really like that. And, my little sister did the Mecan River Segment with me. It was about 12 miles altogether, and she just came alive out there, she was super excited to push herself.”
Riley began her internship this June and will be with the Alliance until October 2021. In her capacity as Trail Program Intern, she will primarily be working in the field, assisting the Trail Program Manager, Dave Caliebe, with trail maintenance and trailbuilding duties. From inventorying trail signage to spending a week camping in the field while building trail, Riley is excited to contribute to all things trail-related this summer and early fall.
In her first month, Riley jumped in boots first with a three-day Mobile Skills Crew event. She worked with volunteers and trail maintenance staff to construct 154 feet of boardwalk and a 24-foot bridge on the Jerry Lake Segment.
Riley is excited to dig into her work and give back to the Ice Age Trail. She shares, “My one goal is to leave the Ice Age Trail better than I found it. If I can do that, I will count this experience as a success!”
We look forward to working with Riley to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age Trail!