Appalachian Trail Conservancy Selects Community Ambassadors For North Carolina

Date Published: Jan 12, 2012

Asheville, NC (January 12, 2012) – Mary Bennett has been selected to serve as the volunteer ambassador to the designated Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Community of Franklin, and Kayah Gadish will serve as the ambassador to the designated A.T. Community of Hot Springs. In this role, each will serve as a community liaison to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the respective local volunteer A.T. maintaining club to bolster volunteerism and stewardship of the Trail at the local level. The A.T. Community Ambassador opportunity is the first of its kind within the A.T. cooperative management partnership.

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited about building off its volunteer base by providing A.T. Ambassadors to designated A. T. Communities to help increase local stewardship of public lands and support healthy lifestyles for community citizens,” stated Julie Judkins, Community Program Manager of the ATC.

Mary Bennett has lived in the Franklin community for nearly twenty years and loves the mountains and forests in the Nantahala region. She is an educator, horticulturalist, and hiker; she has section hiked much of the A.T.  She enjoys designing environmental service learning opportunities for students and leading nature-oriented activities for families.  

Kayah is a member of the Carolina Mountain Club and volunteers on a weekly maintenance crew. She enjoys sharing with others her knowledge of plant identification, uses, and other primitive skills.  She has two children who have inherited her love of nature, and they often spend their time exploring the woods together.  

The Appalachian Trail Community™ program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the A.T.  Towns, counties, and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by A.T. hikers and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. The program serves to assist communities with local initiatives such as sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T.

The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. The A.T. is approximately 2,185 miles in length, ranging from Maine to Georgia, making it one of the longest, continuously marked footpath in the world.  Volunteers typically donate more than 220,000 hours each year on Trail-related work and about 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the A.T.  

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information please visit

Contact: Julie
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 828.254.3708 x11
Fax: 828.254.3754
Email: [email protected]

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