Diane Petrilla is currently the President of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club (SMHC), and has previously served as the Chair of the SMHC’s A.T. Maintainers Committee. While Petrilla has led multiple hikes for the SMHC and plans amazing board retreats, her dedication and leadership to all things A.T. show in the numerous roles she fills as an A.T. volunteer.
Petrilla is also the SMHC’s newsletter editor and serves as a Regional Partnership Committee representative for the SMHC during regional meetings of A.T. maintaining clubs, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and agency partners. Chloe Decamara, ATC’s Trail Education Specialist states ” Diane has been a steady heartbeat for SMHC in the recent years and has been a tremendous support for the ATC Ridgerunner Program.” Petrilla also coordinates all of the Club’s mulching operations; making multiple resupply trips herself and to privies in sometimes remote locations in Smoky Mountain National Park. For multiple years she has helped to maintain the Indian Gap section of the A.T. alongside fellow volunteer Patti Grady.
ATC’s Trail Facilities Manager, Stephen Eren states “Diane enthusiastically fills crucial leadership roles, she is a dynamic thinker who is success oriented and she has a passion for stewardship that I personally admire. Diane is a treat to work with!” Last year she directed a National Trails Day event that attracted a record number of volunteers to the Trail. She also coordinates maintenance projects with college outing groups, oftentimes joining the work party and staying overnight with these groups at the Park’s Soak Ash facility.
Petrilla’s passion for the Trail shows in her dedication to her responsibilities that may sometimes require her to spend less time outdoors on the trail she loves. However, she continues to embrace her role as a volunteer and guardian of the A.T. while amplifying her impacts by engaging new volunteers and the next generation of A.T. stewards.