Volunteer Voices

As American Hiking Society celebrates 40 years as the national voice for America’s hikers and trails, the organization reflects on its longstanding history on the front lines of trail stewardship across America.  The bedrock of our stewardship programs is our dedicated and hardworking volunteers.  We want to make sure their voices are heard and they remain the driving force behind the “on-the-ground” work that we are able to accomplish.  In the upcoming months we will be featuring interviews with American Hiking volunteers, past and present, and hope that you are inspired by their stories as much as we are. Our first feature is Bonnie Key, a dedicated volunteer from Maryland.

bonnie-key-002Name: Bonnie Key

Years volunteering with American Hiking Society: 3

What made you sign up for your first Volunteer Vacation?

Actually, my initial exposure to Volunteer Vacations was through my husband, Edward. He was retired and looking for volunteer work in a warm, sunny location to help get him through the cold Maryland winters. He signed up for an AHS project in SC. Unfortunately, the week of the project, SC experienced freezing temperatures the entire time he was there! We still laugh about it, but the experience he had was so rewarding for him, that I wanted to participate and experience it myself. We’ve been hooked on VV’s ever since!

What is the most rewarding aspect of participating on a Volunteer Vacation to you?

I love being outdoors and experiencing new things in nature. I love working with my hands and being able to step back, see the results of my hard work, and know that it will be appreciated. I especially love meeting new people!

What is your favorite experience from a past Volunteer Vacation?

I’ve made wonderful memories on each project in which I’ve participated. If I have to name my absolute favorite experience, it would have to be the people I’ve met. It may sound sappy, but it truly inspires me and it touches me deeply to see a crew of total strangers, from all aspects of life, happily come together, live and work cohesively, all while giving of themselves to a common cause. It’s such a win-win experience on every level!

What advice would you pass onto first-time volunteers?

#1: Go for it, just go ahead and sign up.

#2: Go with an open mind and with no particular expectations.

#3: Plan on blocking out a week or two on your calendar each year, because after you do your first Volunteer Vacation, you’re going to be hooked!

What hiking trail/location is currently on top of your bucket list?

In early September, I’m going to be hiking the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire!!!

For more information about our stewardship programs and how you can get involved, please visit HERE.