At the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference’s annual meeting this month in Ossining, the group honored two Mahwah volunteers who keep the group connected online.
The Mahwah-based trail conference, which helps maintain hiking paths and trails throughout the area, called volunteers Doug Cleek and Phil McLewin are “crucial” to its operation in a release last week.
The Trail Conference, which coordinates volunteers to “protect and promote” 1,800 miles of trail in NY and NJ, released the following about the contributions of these two dedicated volunteers:
Doug Cleek’s professional expertise is in designing and supporting websites, and he donates his considerable design and technical skills to the Trail Conference, helping to provide an attractive, useful source of trail and hike information for the public. The website includes detailed information on hundreds of hikes and parks in the region as well as opportunities for the public to easily support and volunteer for trails and parks.
Doug also manages and contributes to many of our social media projects, such as our Twitter account, and contributes to our Facebook pages (now closing in on 3,000 fans). Doug’s volunteer efforts for the Trail Conference have helped keep our organization at the forefront in the communications revolution and raised our visibility to the trail-using public.
Doug can often be seen on trails in our region in the company of his son, Justin, wife Linda, and dog, Buddy, or with his son’s Boy Scout troop.
Phil McLewin, professor emeritus of economics at Ramapo College, is the very model of a new kind of volunteer—one who can make enormous contributions to a project or organization without necessarily being on site. Phil does his Trail Conference volunteering on a computer from the comfort of home. He writes and edits content for the Trail Conference website, focusing on developing information about the hundreds of parks in the region.
Phil started with the project in May 2008. He uploaded his very first park write-up—of his beloved Ramapo Valley County Reservation—on May 19, 2008. Hundreds of parks later, the project continues, though all of the parks mentioned in the New Jersey Walk Book (published by the Trail Conference) now have a place on the website. Phil also volunteers as editor of hike descriptions submitted by the public for publication on our website. These detailed descriptions now number more than 300 (nynjtc.org/view/hike).
“The Trail Conference is extraordinarily lucky to have Doug and Phil as volunteers on our communications team,” says Georgette Weir, communications manager for the Trail Conference. “The current website, which launched in 2009, now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. These visitors research hikes in the area, buy trail maps and books, and support our volunteer trail programs.
“With staff and budget cutbacks to park budgets, trail volunteers become ever more crucial to keeping these important resources open to the public. And with nonprofit budgets also under stress, volunteers who donate their talents and skills to supporting our operations help to sustain the organization’s vitality. We can’t thank people like Doug and Phil enough.”