Harpers Ferry, WV (March 1, 2013) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has selected two Appalachian Trail Community™ ambassadors in the state of North Carolina. Mary Bennett has been selected to serve as the volunteer ambassador to the designated Appalachian Trail Community™ of Franklin and Anne Baker has been selected to serve as the ambassador to Hot Springs. Bennett will serve as a community liaison to the ATC and the Nantahala Hiking Club and Baker will be the ATC liaison to the Carolina Mountain Club; both will work to encourage volunteerism and stewardship of the Appalachian Trail at the local level. This year there are 16 ambassadors serving 14 different communities along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited about building 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.
Bennett has lived in the Franklin community for nearly 20 years and loves the mountains and forests in the Nantahala region. She is an educator, horticulturalist, hiker and has section hiked much of the A.T. She enjoys designing environmental service learning opportunities for students and leading nature-oriented activities for families. This is Bennett’s second year as an A.T. Community™ Ambass
A Madison County native, Baker has a double Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Technical Photography from Appalachian State University in Boone. She has professional experience in media, social networking and in the field of education. Her passion for the Trail developed last summer while hiking the A.T. with her father, completing a total of 200 miles through Tennessee and North Carolina.
“I’ve seen what the Appalachian Trail means to the community and what the community means to the Trail,” stated Baker. “I’ve realized that the Trail provides a wonderful place for family and friends to come together in a way that only the stillness of the woods allows.”
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. Since the program’s inception in 2010, 28 communities have been designated with 5-10 communities expected to be entered into the program in 2013.
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 a unit of the National Park System, stretching from Georgia to Maine, at approximately 2,180 miles in length. It is the longest hiking- only footpath in the world. Volunteers typically donate more than 220,000 hours of their time doing trail-related work each year, and about 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s 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 www.appalachiantrail.org.
Contact: Julie Judkins
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 828.254.3708 x11
Email: [email protected]