North Country Trail Association

Next Generation Coalition

If you would like to join the next generation of trail stewards on the North Country Trail, you have come to the right place.

As the popularity of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) grows, it is vital that future generations of trail stewards are given the opportunity to experience, work on, and fall in love with the beauty of the Trail. The Next Generation Coalition (NGC) is a program aimed at increasing youth engagement along our eight trail states via networking and mentorship opportunities. Every April, the NGC will recruit a new cohort of volunteers to participate in training related to trail building and maintenance, marketing, outreach, and advocacy. A two-year commitment from each NGC cohort will allow members to build relationships with each other, and gain the knowledge and abilities necessary to fulfill the program expectations.

Meet the Current Cohort!

Felicia Hokenstad
Felicia Hokenstad, Minnesota
Instagram: @feliciahokenstad
Felicia is the Next Generation Coalition Lead. She has been involved with the Coalition for several years and is a board member for the Border Route Trail Association. She is already involved in outreach, volunteerism, and advocacy for the NCTA (the Coalition’s three pillars), and is a great fit to brainstorm ideas on how to connect more young people to NCTA’s work at both the national and local level.
Peyton David, Wisconsin
Peyton wants to be a louder voice for conservation advocacy and loves to share their experience with nature, including education about flora and fauna, mushrooms, and rocks along the Trail.
Katelyn Hacker, Michigan
Instagram: @krhysanthemum
Katelyn is a member of the NCTA Peter Wolfe Chapter in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Katelyn spends a lot of time hiking the Trail alone and is optimistic about building community with other hikers. She wants to give back to the Trail by volunteering her time, effort, and by spreading community awareness.
Madeline Blyveis, Michigan
Instagram: @madeline_claire_creature
Madeline is a member of the NCTA Western Michigan Chapter. She is excited to give back to the Trail that has given so much to her. She wants to provide opportunities for others to do the same that will, in turn, cultivate a stronger community of folks willing to advocate for, and work toward further success of the NCNST.
Conor Dietrich, Michigan
Instagram: @conorfortyhandz
Conor has a deep love for the NCNST and is looking forward to learning more about the maintenance aspect of volunteering for the Trail for future generations to enjoy.
Tessa Fenstermaker, Ohio
Instagram: @tessa.on.the.go
Tessa lives in Ohio, but works seasonally for the U.S. Forest Service in Michigan and is a member of the NCTA Ni-Miikanaake Chapter. She has the unique opportunity of having the Trail in both of her backyards, and is familiar with sections along the Ottawa National Forest (Mich.) and the Buckeye Trail (Ohio). Tessa wants to see the Trail become as talked about and used as other National Scenic Trails and is willing to get her hands dirty to make that happen.
Sarah Waite, Ohio
Instagram: @yogahikesw.sarah
Sarah is hopeful to help create an environment on the Trail where others feel safe to learn about volunteer opportunities like trail maintenance, and she wants to meet other people in her age range with similar interests.
Lauren Kennedy-Little, Pennsylvania
Instagram: @mtnlaur_el989
Lauren is a member of the NCTA Wampum Chapter in Pennsylvania. She has been working in volunteer related conservation for a few years and enjoys connecting people with the outdoors while promoting safe and healthy recreation options, while also respecting the land.
2021 Cohort
Courtney Schaff
Courtney Schaff, North Dakota
Dennis Olson
Dennis Olson, Minnesota
Lisa Szela
Lisa Szela, Wisconsin
Katie Cothran
Katie Cothran, Michigan
Brianna Elizondo
Brianna Elizondo, Michigan
Stephanie Sleda
Stephanie Sleda, Michigan
Lacie Tryan
Lacie Tryan, Michigan
Sara Dudzik
Sara Dudzik, Michigan
Heather Johnson
Heather Johnson, Ohio
Application Requirements
Must be in the age range of 18-35 with an interest in volunteering for the North Country Trail Association (NCTA). Prerequisite to either live in a NCNST state (North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, or Vermont) or willingness to travel to the Trail for volunteer opportunities. Submit your online application by deadline (set annually by Next Generation Coalition Lead).
Program Expectations
  • The NGC will participate in a virtual orientation session each June following induction of new cohort members, where they can meet each other, engage with NCTA staff members, learn about the program objectives, and create a work plan with goals, objectives, and tasks which feed toward measurable outcomes.
  • The NGC will work closely with the NCTA’s Trail Management staff to become familiar with local Chapters and Affiliate organizations to learn about trail development and maintenance.
    • Complete and report 100 hours of volunteer work within the two-year commitment.
      • Join annual National Trails Day event(s) in June as a host or participant.
      • Join annual NCNST Day / National Public Lands Day event(s) in September as a host or participant.
  • The NGC will work closely with the NCTA Marketing staff and Annual Events Coordinator to contribute content for fundraising appeals, and assist in planning for the NCTA’s Annual Celebration event.
    • Create one video message to be used during one of the NCTA appeals: Spring (April-May), fall (September-October), and/or end-of-year (November-December).
    • Provide two pieces of content during the calendar year for NCTA e-communications related to NCTA programs, volunteer, or advocacy efforts.
    • Provide content to at least one issue of the NCTA’s quarterly membership magazine, the North Star, during the calendar year.
  • The NGC will work closely with the NCTA’s Advocacy Committee to learn the basics of building relationships with policy makers to positively affect the NCNST and trail users.
    • Participate in annual Hike the Hill® with American Hiking Society and Partnership for the National Trails System, and/or take part in the NCTA Leadership Summit.
  • The NGC will participate in monthly workshops via Zoom that feature presentations from leaders and professionals to learn about different employment and volunteer opportunities in the outdoor community. This will also be a time to go over upcoming opportunities and events, needs for volunteers, and share about individual goals to encourage accountability.
  • The NGC will be committed to a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive hiking community.
Program Benefits
  • Camaraderie with other North Country Trail volunteers and users, including a complimentary one-year NCTA membership to a Chapter of your choosing.
  • Invitations to exclusive events, hikes, and other activities, including the Next Generation Coalition Summit and the NCTA Annual Celebration.
  • Scholarship to attend events with NCTA and across the National Trails System, like Hike the Hill or the PNTS Workshop.

Questions or Comments?

NGC Inquiry Form
Header photo by Emily Rodriguez