Photo: left to right Jim Pelletier (AMC-Berkshire), Shawn Garrard (ATC), Steve Smith (AMC-Berkshire)
Steve Smith of the Appalachian Mountain Club–Berkshire Chapter has a passion for the outdoors. He loves to ski and has climbed the 100 highest peaks in New England, bagging the first one at age eight. He is also devoted to the Appalachian Trail.
Steve began working on trails in New Hampshire in the ’70s with AMC. He attended the first Trailwide meeting for A.T. club presidents in 1985 and joined AMC-Berkshire after participating in ATC’s 1991 biennial conference in Williamstown, MA.
From spring through fall, Steve spends a few days each month working on the Trail, staying nearby overnight, as the commute is several hours each way from his home. He attends A.T. management committee meetings year-round.
His volunteer activities include trail maintenance, corridor boundary monitoring, rare plant monitoring, and managing invasive plants. He also took a lead role this year in cultural resource surveys, with Massachusetts now the second Trail state to complete the process.
ATC Resource Management Coordinator Marian Orlousky attributes much of the success of the rare plant program in New England to Steve’s work, saying that AMC-Berkshire submits more rare plant reports annually than all of the other clubs combined. Steve not only is the primary monitor for several sites (and has discovered some previously unknown populations), but also coordinates that work and meticulously reviews monitoring reports before they’re submitted.
Steve also has brought an increased awareness of invasive plants to the club, working on the restoration of priority habitat sites and managing problematic infestations. Marian says, “I especially enjoy working with Steve because he gives much thought and consideration to a task before committing to it. When Steve agrees to contribute to something, you know he is all in and you know you can count on him. He also always brings homemade cookies to share on field outings!”
Steve says that current A.T. volunteers feel a strong duty of stewardship, and the question for Trail clubs is how to recruit new volunteers with that same dedication. He recommends face-to-face, personal contact as the best way to encourage prospective volunteers.
Cosmo Catalano, volunteer coordinator for the Berkshire A.T. committee, can attest to Steve’s skills in that regard: “Steve has a quiet passion for the Trail, and has proven time and again that there is no job that volunteers can’t perform when given responsibility and the resources to address it. He has a unique skill at recruiting volunteers (and I speak from personal experience), all he needs is a few moments of conversation—and suddenly you find there’s an interesting, meaningful task awaiting your attention.”