Our Stories

2022 Trail Builder + Trail Maintainer Awards

Categories: Volunteer Stories


Trail Builder Award recipients are volunteers whose work in trail planning, landowner negotiations, layout and design, and/or construction, have resulted in the development of outstanding new Trail or facilities over a three-year period or more.

Jim Howell. Jim accepted the position of Vice President for the NCTA Jordan Valley 45° Chapter (Mich.) in 2019. He is so organized, and brings a lifetime of work and volunteering experience to the Chapter. He is always willing to step up when the President is unavailable due to work obligations. Jim is a hard worker who pitches in at work days, and is willing to get dirty to get the job done. He frequently volunteers his equipment for use on trail building projects, including his truck, tractor, trailers, and hand tools. Jim participates in most monthly group hikes and always adds to the fun.

Trail Maintainer Award recipients are volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements over a three-year period or more in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Trail segment(s).

Jim Antonson. Jim has served the Trail and the NCTA Brule-St. Croix Chapter (Wisc.) for more than 20 years. For over a dozen years, he was the Trail Maintainer for the Brule Bog Boardwalk, a very popular segment. At the same time, he was an active participant in Chapter workdays, helping carry out projects both with Chapter leaders and with the Wisconsin Roving Trail Crew. Jim eventually became Chapter Vice President and served for more than eight years. When the Solon Springs School District began its annual student hiking program on the NCNST in 2015, Jim, a retired teacher, was among the first to be asked to lead hikes. He has done regularly for seven sessions, often leading multiple hikes a year with classes of students. Jim has also served as an active hike leader in the Chapter’s hiking program, leading a group hike annually for more than five years. His quiet, steady service is a fine example of the ways volunteer efforts help the NCNST and NCTA grow. He is always ready to pitch in.

Preston Bartlett. Preston has been a maintainer for the St. Mary’s section of the Buckeye Trail/NCNST (Ohio) for over a decade. He takes great pride in working on his adopted portion. His section is always clearly marked and maintained, and he was the co-section supervisor for many years. He is always eager and willing to help elsewhere, too.

Chuck Hoard. Chuck has been the Trail Maintenance Manager for the NCTA Chief Baw Beese Chapter (Mich.) since 2016. He schedules and leads trail maintenance monthly, and responds to trail reports of issues needing immediate attention. He keeps the equipment organized, secure, and in proper working condition. He spent many hours outfitting the Chapter trailer with storage features such as hooks and shelves. Chapter members enjoy working with Chuck. He organizes the projects, recruits help from members, shows up with the equipment trailer, and makes workdays fun. He is always encouraging and smiling, and is always seeking ways to improve our section of the Trail. He works well with others but can also spend many hours working alone. Chuck is a wonderful asset and many see him as the face of the Chapter.

Dave Jansen. Dave is a section adopter on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), performing basic maintenance on a routine basis. His section is about 3.5 miles long, just outside of Grand Marais, Minn. It is a fairly popular and well-used section year round, due to its proximity to town. Dave has adopted this section for about eight years, and has single handedly transformed it. It is a textbook example of care and attention to detail. He cuts back trees and brush to keep the trail corridor at the width standards of the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) and NCTA, which is a very rare thing on the SHT. He also keeps his section packed down with snowshoes in the winter, so users have an easier time and don’t get lost. This past winter, when the person who had been plowing the trailhead quit without notifying the SHTA, Dave shoveled it out by hand. (And that winter saw record-breaking snowfall, even for northern Minnesota.) He never seems to hesitate when asked for help. Dave shows great dedication, has a high quality of work, and is a pleasure to work with.

Dan Proctor. Dan is a tireless volunteer on a very demanding section of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) / NCNST. The Trail was virtually destroyed in this area by record flooding in 2012, suffering from massive erosion and blowdowns. It was largely rebuilt by Dan’s hands. He is on the Trail almost daily. He works with the City of Duluth on larger maintenance tasks, but does much of it by hand in this steep area of rock and clay. He asks for nothing other than users enjoy this section of ups and downs, waterfalls and overlooks. Dan has also begun to use battery powered tools to preserve this wild section of Trail in an urban area, and to be as eco-friendly as possible. Maintaining this section has been a labor of love for Dan for decades.

Nominations for 2023 awards are closed as of May 1. See all awards categories, past winners, and nomination information at northcountrytrail.org/volunteer-awards.