Our Stories

2021 Blue Blazes Benefactor Award: Volunteer Spotlight

Categories: Volunteer Stories


2021 Blue Blazes Benefactor Award

Jerry and Nancy Fennell. As longtime members and volunteers of the NCTA, the Fennells are recognized as champions in supporting charitable causes. Jerry is a six-year member of the NCTA Board of Directors, having served with distinction and full participation on multiple committees. Jerry and Nancy joined the Founders Circle giving level in 2014 and have never wavered in their support. Ever conscious of how they might increase awareness and support of the Trail, in lieu of gifts, the Fennells requested contributions be made to the NCTA to honor their 50th wedding anniversary. They are passionate leaders who are always eager to tell the story of the Trail and they serve as ambassadors for the NCTA’s mission.

Larry Bell. A pioneer in the craft beer industry, Larry has found a spot as one of the most successful craft breweries in America. He began Bell’s Brewery in 1985 as a family-owned business, committed to community and the environment. He became an NCTA member in 2013 and has consistently been in the Founders Circle giving level. A public influencer, he has used his social media platforms to share the NCTA’s story and successfully challenge friends to make an annual gift. In late 2020, Larry publicly endorsed the NCTA as one of three charities he personally supported, and he committed to hiking the Trail throughout Michigan. At this same time, Bell’s Brewery began a multi-layer, multi-year collaboration with the NCTA to bring increased awareness, financial support, and new volunteers and members. Larry’s personal commitment of support was elevated in 2021 as he joined a Michigan Chapter and began “boots on the Trail” advocacy work.

Jan Ulferts Stewart and Jim Stewart. Grateful, respectful, and thoughtful, Jan came onto the NCTA Board of Directors ready and willing to lend her talents to advancing the mission. She is deeply involved with the Dakota Prairie Chapter and as co-chair for the Development Committee, leads by example when it comes to donor cultivation and stewardship. She is frequently writing notes and making calls to donors to thank them for their support and to share stories about the Trail. Her kindness extends well beyond NCTA supporters to include members of the staff and volunteers. Always ready with an encouraging word and a supportive ear, she listens without judgment and offers solutions. Jan and her husband Jim are long-standing members of the Founders Circle giving level, donating time, talent, and treasure toward advancing the NCTA’s strategic plan. Jan brings fresh ideas to the table in an enthusiastic and supportive manner, and serves as a mentor to many.

Who from your local Chapter, state or region do you want to celebrate? Nominate them for an NCTA Award! Nominations for 2022 NCTA Awards closed as of May 1, but awards are annual. There is also the option for Chapter Honor Awards.