Our Stories

2023 Volunteer Awards: Lifetime Achievement

Categories: Volunteer Stories


Dennis Garrett

Dennis’s contributions start at the Chapter and community level, reach throughout the state of Pennsylvania, then beyond to the entire length of the NCNST. Thanks to his leadership, the NCTA Wampum Chapter has evolved from a 34-member group to an aggregation of over 200 volunteers, community organizations, and landowners. He has established committees that drive the NCTA’s mission, and his leadership brings out the best efforts of everyone involved. His wheels are always turning as he listens; he never starts a project he hasn’t thought through. He has been the driver of efforts to gather representatives from across the Wampum Chapter’s range to ensure cooperation. He has successfully pursued a number of working partnerships with state and local entities and landowners, resulting in win-win scenarios for both the Trail and the communities it traverses. Recently, Dennis was the recipient of the National Park Service’s Hartzog Award for Enduring Service. He serves on the NCTA Board of Directors, dedicating much of his time to the good of the greater organization, supporting the entire 4,800 miles of Trail. Yet, he still finds time and energy to serve several other community organizations.

Linda + Bruce Johnson

Linda and Bruce have built and maintained trail, led hikes, organized meetings, and promoted the NCNST across the state. As an NCTA Itasca Moraine Chapter trail crew member in Minnesota, Bruce was instrumental in the completion of the Chapter’s trail segment between Itasca State Park and the Chippewa National Forest. They both played crucial roles in the creation of the first-ever Minnesota NCNST guidebook. Linda was co-editor and translated about 50 volunteers’ written submissions into common language. Bruce hiked most of the Trail in north-central Minnesota, field checking the written descriptions that volunteers provided. Most of the guidebook committee meetings were held in their living room. Bruce served as Chapter President for multiple terms, and has been on the Chapter board for over 15 years. He also led the fundraising, planning, and construction of the first ever trail shelter built specifically for the NCNST in Minnesota. Beyond their countless volunteer hours, their positive attitudes and knack for collaboration have been some of their greatest contributions to the NCTA.

John Derick

John is a paragon of devotion and perseverance, acting selflessly over several decades to build a 19-mile trail system for his community: the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM). Not only did he build this trail from the ground up, but he was a key actor in bringing the NCNST into Vermont, by allowing it to be co-aligned with sections of the TAM. From the beginning, John used his strong local connections and knowledge of working with landowners and creating easements from his career as a telecommunications utility business owner, as well as his impressive ability to work with his hands to create this trail network across Middlebury, Vermont. He is currently the primary caretaker of the NCNST in the Middlebury area, though he is actively working with his associated organization, Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT), to secure legacy protection for the Trail. On top of all this, he finds time to mentor young volunteers, helping to imbue them with the spirit of selfless service he himself so effortlessly embodies. In his honor, MALT has created the John Derick Endowment Fund for the Future of the TAM, to ensure the TAM/NCNST will be cared for in perpetuity.

Learn more about how the you can honor NCTA volunteers for their service on and for the North Country National Scenic Trail, and submit a nomination at northcountrytrail.org/volunteer-awards.