Bill Neilan

April 2019

Bill Neilan retired in June 2016 and joined Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club in October. He has since become one of the most active Volunteer Ridgerunners that patrols McAfee Knob and Dragons Tooth. He attends almost every training day to welcome new ridgerunners to the team and ensure that they feel prepared both mentally and physically for the task ahead. Kathryn Herndon-Powell, the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, says “His orientation hikes are great fun and very informative, as he points out every interesting feature while modeling friendly and engaging ways to approach the public.”

Volunteer Ridgerunners are asked to make one patrol per month and Bill consistently rises above and beyond that commitment. In 2017 alone Bill racked up 29 patrols for a total of 190 hours of volunteer service. Kathryn continues, “His friendly, upbeat attitude makes a meeting of the Volunteer Ridgerunners feel like a family reunion.”

Bill Neilan has consistently attended regular work hikes since he moved to the area and joined the club. Volunteer stewardship opportunities through trail maintaining clubs ensure that the Trail is maintained for public enjoyment throughout the year. About his stewardship, Bill says “I love to walk/hike, I love to meet people and I especially love being outdoors. Combine all three and you have RATC. Volunteering was simple and if I’d known what it was like I would have retired fifty years ago.”

Kathryn elaborates, “Bill is the kind of volunteer whose steady, behind-the-scenes contributions make the A.T. the world class hiking experience it is. He gives a staggering amount of his time and talent to protect special places and repair and improve trail structures, and always seems happy to do so. Both the physical tread of the Trail, and the community that maintains it, are stronger thanks to Bill.”