Press Release

Bennington, Vermont, Celebrated as Newest A.T. Community™

May 19, 2021


BENNINGTON, Vt. (May 19, 2021) – The Town of Bennington invites the public to celebrate and recognize its designation as the newest Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Community™. The official designation ceremony will be held via Zoom on Thursday, June 3, 2021, from 6-7 p.m.

The virtual ceremony will feature U.S. Representative Peter Welch as the keynote speaker. Additional speakers will include several local spokespersons, including historian Phil Holland, A.T. thru-hikers Hamilton Topping and Lorna Cheriton, and aspiring A.T. thru-hiker Retha Charette. Other scheduled speakers include state and local officials and partnering organizations that work to preserve and maintain the A.T. and Long Trail, including the National Park Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the Green Mountain National Forest Service and the Green Mountain Club.

“Being recognized as an Appalachian Trail Community™ puts Bennington on the map of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the organization known as ‘the stewards of the world’s longest hiking-only footpath,’” said Shannon Barsotti, the Town of Bennington’s Community Development Director. “Our A.T. Community committee is highlighting our local resources for hikers that will be shared on the ATC website, such as public transportation to and from the Trail, area lodging, dining and activities. This designation will bring more local awareness of the Trail and spread the word that Bennington is a destination for outdoor recreation.”

Bennington, Vermont, will be designated as an official A.T. Community™ on June 3, 2021. Photo by Lorianna Weathers.

Event Overview:

Bennington, Vermont, A.T. Community™ Designation Celebration

  • Date: Thursday, June 3, 2021
  • Time: 6-7 p.m.
  • Location: Online Event
  • Featured Speakers (in order of presentation):
    • Hawk Metheny, Appalachian Trail Conservancy Senior Regional Director, Northeast
    • Jeannie Jenkins, Chair, Bennington Select Board
    • Phil Holland, Historian
    • Hamilton Topping, A.T. Thru-Hiker, Green Mountain Club Club, Bennington Section
    • Martina Barnes, District Ranger of Green Mountain Nat’l Forest, Manchester Ranger District
    • Wendy Janssen, National Park Service Superintendent of Appalachian National Scenic Trail
    • Mike Debonis, Executive Director of Green Mountain Club
    • Retha Charette, Current A.T. Thru-Hiker
  • Keynote Speaker:
    • U.S. Representative Peter Welch
  • Register to Attend:

Administered through the ATC, the A.T. Community™ program is designed to recognize towns and cities that help promote and protect the A.T. The program serves to support regional collaboration to grow outdoor recreation economies while amplifying stewardship opportunities to protect the Trail and adjacent lands. The Trail co-aligns with the Long Trail in the Bennington area, making it a frequent stop for visiting outdoor recreationists.

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is thrilled to celebrate Bennington, Vermont, as the newest A.T. Community™ partner helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” said Julie Judkins, Director of Education and Outreach for the ATC. “Bennington representatives have worked hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to plan education- and stewardship-focused events to reinforce the Trail’s continued protection. In this landmark year, when the ATC celebrates the 100th anniversary of Benton MacKaye’s groundbreaking article proposing the creation of the A.T., community partnerships like the one with Bennington will help us lead the way in another century in Trail conservation.”

To register for the online event and receive your link to the online ceremony, visit

The Bennington A.T. Community™ Committee is also searching for new members to help plan and manage engagement opportunities throughout the community. If you would like to participate in this group and help support regional collaboration, please send an email expressing your interest to

To learn more about the A.T. Community™ program, visit

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is 2,193.1 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to protect, manage, and advocate for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Shannon Barsotti
Town of Bennington
Tel: 802.445.1330

Jordan Bowman
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 304.885.0794