We Make a Life by What We Give
By Tricia Baker, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
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.
Gerald Sazama (Jerry) is named after his Uncle Gerald, who lived to be 99 years old. When young, Jerry asked his Uncle Gerald the secret to his long life. Uncle Gerald offered this wisdom: don’t stop moving! Jerry has indeed taken that advice.
If you have volunteered for any Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crews events around the state over the past 12 years, you have likely met Jerry. You will find him at the seven to eight major trailbuilding events per year acting in his current role as volunteer Crew Leader Manager.
Since retiring from his Chippewa Falls law practice, Jerry became involved in maintaining the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. After years of running marathons, with his wife of 53 years consistently found cheering at mile 17, Jerry was no stranger to being active. But with retirement came the time to give back – and he has done so in a big way.
But with retirement came the time to give back – and he has done so in a big way.
During an average summer week, Jerry is in the forest three days working on Ice Age Trail segments where the local Chippewa Moraine Chapter manages 20 miles of Trail in Chippewa County. During a few months each winter, Jerry moves to Arizona, where he volunteers for the US Forest Service on designated wilderness land. This past winter, Jerry led nine volunteers to complete a two-mile remake of a trail in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Jerry loves to hike and has a special love for the wild. He points out that we all have access to wild places because someone built trails – someone before us invested time and energy so we could enjoy it. As Jerry says about our Trail, “They were built by people – people I will never know – but they are a gift.” And every time Jerry volunteers on the Ice Age Trail, he recognizes it as a chance to give a gift back.
In addition to Uncle Gerald’s advice to ‘keep moving,’ Jerry heeds this quote by Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” This year Jerry received the Ice Age Trail Alliance Trail Steward of the Year award for his unswerving allegiance to giving back.
As Jerry says about our Trail, “They were built by people – people I will never know – but they are a gift.”
About the Author
Tricia Baker hails from Summit, Wisconsin. She started Baker Creative/Consulting, a marketing firm, after a career in business and marketing. Tricia also serves on the Boards of an ad agency and a Milwaukee-based non-profit. In her free time, Tricia, along with her husband Brian, hikes Ice Age Trail segments on her quest to become a Thousand-Miler.