James Newman

May 2021

James Newman was recognized by his peers in the Virginia Region (VARO) of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in 2020 as their Volunteer of the Year.  

Newman has been a member of the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club (TATC) since 1984. Following his retirement as a high school principal, Newman has been providing an enthusiastic interest and dedication to the A.T., the TATC, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). All the while, he has been garnering support from TATC members who have elected him into the leadership positions of Vice President and hike master from 2009 – 2011, followed by President from 2012 – 2014. When it seemed as though no one was willing to volunteer as TATC Trail Supervisor, Newman stepped forward and has currently been serving in that key position since 2015. 

As an active leader and participant in every endeavor he pursues, Newman has accumulated many hours of volunteer service, particularly by getting out on the Trail and maintaining it.  Newman is a certified cross-cut sawyer and actively participates in Konnarock volunteer work crews as well as with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS). He has actively organized, managed, and supervised the maintenance of the TATC’s A.T. section from Reid’s Gap to Route 56 at the Tye River Bridge. This includes performing “walk-thrus” of the section to scope out the specific maintenance work needed to be accomplished during the TATC’s two major work weekends. During these major work weekends, Newman has also helped to ensure group safety by developing and providing innovative safety briefings prior to performing the work, which may explain the accident free events that take place 

Faced with a continuous shortage of volunteers and after recognizing the need for additional work in the hardtoaccess Trail sections; Newman organized and led a “Lopper and Swing Blade Festival” during the summer growing season that helped to keep the Trail in the best possible condition while also attracting newly interested volunteers. Newman has also had success actively pursuing outreach initiatives with the goal of attracting young and new members to the TATCBy conducting Trail related presentations and displays at local parks, as well as at other local outdoor tabling events he works to encourage others to get involved with maintaining the TrailNewman has also coordinated with U.S. Navy commands recruiting personnel from the U.S. Naval Academy to work with SAWS on significant A.T. projects. 

Newman has also initiated a multi-organizational effort to organize the removal of 105 hazard trees from the Maupin Field within one day. Newman is the TATC’s representative assisting the Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail Park Office (APPA) and the ATC with their Wayfinding project.  

More recently, this past Fall, after postponing TATC maintenance trips due to the pandemic, Newman was successful in organizing a Fall Maintenance Trip within COVID-19 safety guidelines that resulted in the installing of new fire rings and campsites at Maupin Field. Though a team effort, like with many of his accomplishments, Newman was the driving force in getting things accomplished.