by Alivia Acosta, ATC Volunteer Development Coordinator

A Look at Volunteer Impact in 2021

In the federal fiscal year from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, ninety-seven events were shared through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s clearinghouse for Appalachian Trail (A.T.) volunteerism at as a means of connecting new volunteer interest with organizations coordinating the work of volunteers.  

Partnerships continue to be of great support for the Trail. Many projects took place in 2021 thanks to a variety of partnership groups. To name a few: 

  • graffiti removal at Bake Oven Knob was largely thanks to the Pennsylvania Game Commission 
  • staff from a local Asheville, NC coffee shop contributed to a volunteer workday at Max Patch with the Carolina Mountain Club 
  • an Eagle Scout installed a bridge for a stream crossing with the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club 
  • virtual gatherings continued for regional A.T management committees

Similar to how partnerships throughout the Trail adapted to the reality of public safety protocols, Trail work continued to adapt as well. Sixty-one volunteers joined the Carolina Mountain Club on National Trails Day. Participants were divided into 14 groups and contributed a total of 425 volunteer hours in this one day alone. Appalachian Trail Conservancy and local volunteers have launched a 3-8 year plan to remove Autumn Olive, an invasive plant species, from the Trail Corridor near Swatara Gap in Pennsylvania. 

The Konnarock Trail Crew also adapted its structure this year and welcomed historic Konnarock volunteers to join a small paid professional crew from June 24 – August 12 where 13 volunteers contributed 1,146 hours. Forty-seven members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club completed 155 Volunteer Ridge Runner Patrols totaling 990 hours. Also, two moldering ADA privies were constructed in Maine this year.  

The flagship virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy also took place at the beginning of this year in lieu of the traditional in-person Volunteer Leadership Meeting. Through this adapted virtual framework, 125 volunteers attended pathways of learning related to Cooperative Management of the A.T. along with requisite resources for volunteer and project leaders, as well as Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI). A Volunteer Roundtable in August was centered around gathering coordinators within clubs to discuss the outcomes of a recent study from Points of Light on volunteer trends nationwide and what implications they could have for A.T. Clubs. 

This year saw 198 more volunteers and 31,255 more hours than reported in 2020. In total throughout the Trail, 3,750 individual volunteers contributed 142,649 hours of service in support of the Appalachian Trail and none of it would have been possible without the steadfast and adaptable spirit of dedicated volunteers.