Doug and Stacey Levin

August 2015

Doug and Stacey Levin’s search for the ideal place to retire led them to Abingdon, Virginia, where they found plentiful opportunities for hiking, kayaking, cycling, gardening— and volunteering.

They attended a presentation at the local library on rare plant monitoring with the Mount Rogers A.T. Club (MRATC) and signed up as volunteers. They also began participating in regular Wednesday trail-work trips and soon adopted the A.T. section between Thomas Knob Shelter and Elk Garden.

Doug has become chainsaw and crosscut-saw certified, and especially enjoys crosscut sawing in the wilderness area. Stacey now serves on the club’s board.

A couple of years ago they began monitoring the A.T. corridor, and it has become their favorite volunteer job. They appreciate the different perspective that comes from being on the side of a mountain instead of on the Trail. “It’s like going on a treasure hunt, using a compass and map and navigating skills to find hidden monuments,” says Stacey.

According to ATC’s Regional Resource Manager Josh Kloehn, “Within two years, Doug and Stacey led the charge to monitor and maintain the club’s entire section of corridor—over five miles of boundary with close to a hundred monuments.

“Not only are they hard workers, but they are fun and a joy to work with. Their commitment to the Trail, boundless energy, high standards, and friendly demeanor make them a dynamic duo.”

They also updated boundary records from the 1980s and 90s. Former MRATC President Anne Maio praises their accurate observation, recording, and reporting and says, “They are always upbeat, work hard, take time to do trail rehab in the best way, and are a pleasure for all of us in MRATC to work with and to know.”

Current President Terry Walker says, “Their contributions for a mentally and physically demanding project were outstanding. They did this quietly, thoroughly and without any fanfare [while] still participating in our regular work days and their American Chestnut Foundation activities.”

Stacey and Doug have some suggestions for clubs looking to attract volunteers:

– Plan activities for all skill levels and interests, from trail construction to rare plant monitoring—it doesn’t all have to be hard, physical labor.

– Especially with younger volunteers, plan projects that show results they can look back on after a day’s work and feel a real sense of accomplishment.

– Plan projects that long-distance hikers can help with as they pass through your Trail section.

[Photo: Stacey (left front) and Doug Levin (right front) leading a boundary project with ATC’s Josh Kloehn and Emory & Henry College students]