Emily Sellards

February 2023

Emily Sellards has put a lot of work into the Trail physically and logistically. Most of her work is in the background, but very essential. Sellards began volunteering on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in the fall of 2018 as a freshman at Virginia Tech. After becoming the President of the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (OCVT) in 2020 Sellards worked to recruit volunteers and enabled others to connect with and care for the A.T. as a volunteer. During her first years as Club President, Sellards hosted several campfires on campus as a means of engaging Virginia Tech freshman who were not able to join work trips on the A.T. due to restrictions on carpooling.

Sellards also organized a virtual Earth Week event in the Spring 2021 bringing together the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the National Parks Service, and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club to discuss the history of the A.T. in Virginia and the challenges facing the McAfee’s Knob area. “[Sellards’] enthusiasm, communication, and organizational skills kept everyone involved, informed, and well prepared for the virtual event” shares Alivia Acosta, ATC’s Volunteer Development Coordinator. Sellards also attended the ATC’s Volunteer Leadership Meeting that took place in New Jersey in 2021 representing the OCVT.

In addition to much of her behind the scenes work recruiting and connecting with volunteers, Sellards has attended a fair share of Regional Partnership Committee Meetings that take place twice a year in the Virginia and Southern regions of the Trail. This work enables volunteers like Sellards from throughout the Trail to gather, share information, and contribute to the overall cooperative management of the Trail as the important partner and role played by thousands of volunteers.

Sellards radiates a nice, calm demeanor that makes others feel at ease. She is especially reassuring of first-time trail volunteers and is great at making everyone feel welcome. As a graduate student she stays engaged and mentors new undergraduate student club leaders. “[Sellards] has led several hikes and work trips with an infectious positive attitude. Her representation for OCVT at Virginia and Southern Regional Partnership meetings, and this past summer’s AT Vistas demonstrates a high level of commitment. [Sellards’] actions assure me that the next generation of AT stewards are out there” shares OCVT Faculty Advisor, Christine McIntyre.