CJ Bradbury

April 2024

“CJ Bradbury is an active Trail Ambassador and trail maintenance volunteer with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. Despite having a young family with many kids, CJ is often on the Trail doing all kinds of activities that help leave the Trail and people using it in a better place,” said Sarah Adams, ATC’s Regional Manager for Georgia and Nantahala who made the nomination for this volunteer spotlight.  

Ashley Luke is the Trail Ambassador coordinator with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and says that CJ joined the club in 2021 and jumped in with both feet.  

“For the last 2 years he has been one of our most dedicated Trail Ambassadors. He connects with hikers through his friendly demeanor and sense of humor, and his passion for wilderness and conservation comes through in every interaction as he helps others learn the best Leave No Trace practices to reduce impact on our heavily used trail,” said Ashley.  

CJ appreciates the social aspects of trail ambassador work, in particular. He says while the rewards and the opportunities are social, his motivation is as much to be an example of the importance of people’s connection to nature.  

“Benton MacKaye’s vision of the Trail was to get away from big cities and industrialization at the time. I feel that’s even more important these days with technology. The physical, mental, and spiritual connections we feel in nature is so important to people, and I like being able to support that for others.”  

He says that once he learned more about the Appalachian Trail and what it takes to upkeep it through trail maintenance, that he feels even more privileged to care for it.   

“I want to give back so my kids can have the same experiences,” said CJ, who is the primary caregiver for his children aged 11, 9, 8 and 5.  

CJ says volunteering on the Appalachian Trail began when he stepped away from work in the restaurant business to take over childcare and sought out another passion to follow. His experiences with the Appalachian Trail led him to become a Leave No Trace Master Educator who is a dedicated trainer within the club and beyond it.   

“My resume had nothing outdoorsy and I had been with the same company for 18-years. This was about jumping in and finding out where I wanted my life to go at this point,” said CJ, who is often camping and hiking with his family.   

When asked about how he finds time to seemingly “do it all,” CJ said it’s a balancing act for something he cares deeply about. He must navigate his wife’s and kids’ schedule with available times to hit the trail for maintenance on Sassafras Mountain, join a Saturday work trip, or work as a Trail Ambassador.  

To anyone thinking about volunteering, CJ suggests reaching out to an Appalachian Trail Club nearby and sticking with the process to discover the right kind of volunteering for you since there are activities from leading day and overnight hikes to administrative tasks like membership and marketing. “The different ways to volunteer are staggering,” he says, “so don’t hesitate to ask questions so that you can contribute in ways that are of the most interest to you.”  


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