Celebrating Our Partners

Leaders in Conservation Awards Gala 2014//Photos courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Facebook page//Text by Olivia Pridemore, summer events intern

On July 16, we will be hosting our 6th annual Leaders in Conservation Awards Gala.  At first glance, awards ceremonies have an air of formality and prestige.  While that is certainly the case, it is easy to overlook the indirect benefits of such an event.  So what is it that makes an awards Gala truly valuable for a nonprofit organization like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC)?

Interestingly most, if not all, nonprofit organizations hold an annual awards Gala.  These types of awards ceremonies are great for revitalizing and invigorating current partners, as well as inspiring new members to join the cause.  For the ATC, the Leaders in Conservation Awards Gala is a time to reflect on all that we have achieved.  With more than 2190 miles, preserving the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is by no means an easy task.  Without the hard work of the ATC and our numerous partners, future generations would not be able to experience the natural, scenic beauty of the trail as we do today.  It is important to take a step back and recognize the progress we have made.

Due to the persistence of its champions, more than 99 percent of the A.T. is protected by right- of- ways, easements, state parks, and various other means of private ownership.  However, much has yet to be done.  Now that most of the corridor is protected, our focus can shift to maintaining viewsheds, curbing the impact of invasive species, and mitigating development proposals that threaten the quality of the hiking experience.  The Gala helps boost moral by offering encouragement and recognition of all we have accomplished by showcasing the fruits of our labor.  But it also reminds us to keep pushing forward.  For those who aren’t familiar with the ATC, the Gala offers enlightenment to the challenges involved with preserving and maintaining the longest hiking-only footpath in the world.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Leader’s in Conservation Awards Gala is also one of our biggest fundraising opportunities.

In addition to the fundraising aspect of the event, the Gala allows us to increase our presence in D.C.  Out of the 14 Trail states, 27 congressional districts are represented.  All of the Representatives of the aforementioned districts, as well as 28 Senators, are invited to attend the annual Leaders in Conservation Awards Gala.  The political opportunities associated with the Gala are absolutely invaluable.  The ATC’s connections within the federal government strengthen our ability to effectively preserve the Trail.  Together with our partners in the Department of the Interior, Congressional staff, and many other key individuals and organizations, the ATC uses its political front to lobby for land protection and obtain funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The Gala plays a large role in maintaining these political connections, as well as displaying our appreciation for continued support in preserving the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy.  Moreover, we strive to make the Gala a balanced, bipartisan event by honoring individuals from both political parties.  The main focus of the Gala is, in fact, the Trail.  By taking a fair and equalized approach to the Gala, we hope to create an environment in which we can foster friendly relations between all parties.  Therefore, when moving forward in the future, we can all work together for a common goal.  With bipartisan aid, we will be one step closer to fulfilling our mission:  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.

This year’s Leaders in Conservation Awards Gala is sure to be a success.  We are excited for the opportunity to celebrate our achievements, recognize those who have helped us along the way, and look forward to the future.  This year we will be honoring one of our corporate sponsors (REI), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) for their outstanding contributions to preserving and maintaining the Appalachian Trail.

Want to learn more about the Leaders in Conservation Awards Gala or purchase tickets?  Visit here

Meals so good you won’t want to share with your hiking partner

Janet “Slow n’ Steady” enjoys breakfast on the Appalachian Trail//Antlers Campsite, Maine//Photo by Janet “Slow n’ Steady//Text by Anne Baker, marketing assistant 

Food. We’d like to bet that besides gear, it’s what hikers think the most about while they’re out on the trail. But if you’re tired of getting your calories from those chicken teriyaki Mountain House meals or a Snickers bar dipped in peanut butter, we don’t blame you. Here’s a few tried-and-true backcountry recipes from our staff.

Ingredients: Package of soft tortilla wraps, individually wrapped small cream cheese containers, summer sausage, and a box of grape tomatoes

Directions: Smear cream cheese on wrap. Place cut up pieces of sausage in cream cheese and then add grape tomatoes. Roll up and enjoy!

Comments: It’s a simple meal, but all the ingredients are extremely durable and the individually wrapped cream cheese containers last for a long time even at room temperature.  The cream cheese holds everything in place if you are trying to put it together on an uneven surface, and the tomatoes are a welcome blast of flavor, freshness and water on a hot day. You can also easily turn this into a vegetarian option by eliminating the summer sausage. Perfect!

– Mark Saari

Ingredients: Package of any kind of pasta (Barilla Torellini is great if you’re willing to carry the extra weight), sundried tomatoes, olive oil, pine nuts or walnuts, Italian spices, and a small package of parmesan cheese

Directions: Boil water and cook the pasta with the sundried tomatoes until they become soft. Once the pasta is cooked, toss with olive oil, nuts, spices and cheese. If you want, you can also save the water if you’re hardcore enough to drink some tasty starch-and-tomato broth!

Comments: Pre-trip, package the spices, nutsand parmesan cheese in a zip-lock bag (unless it’s summer, in which case the cheese might melt). This makes the meal easy to prepare on the Trail!

– Kathryn Herndon

Ingredients: Package of ramen noodles, a smear of peanut butter, honey, and cocoa powder

Directions: Open a package of ramen, but don’t cook it! Smear the peanut butter across the top, add the cocoa powder, and then drizzle honey over the whole thing.

Comments: Uncooked ramen might sound disgusting, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Adding the peanut butter, cocoa and honey make this snack a satisfying treat full of energy.

– John Csordas

Ingredients: Canned biscuit dough, vegetable oil, and chocolate frosting

Directions: Rip each portion of biscuit dough into four pieces and drop into a small pot of hot vegetable oil. Once golden, remove the fried dough, let cool, and smear with chocolate frosting. Enjoy!

Comments: This is a really easy recipe to satisfy even the most voracious sweet tooth, and you don’t have to mix anything together at all! Just be sure to pack out that empty can of biscuit dough.

– Olivia Divish

Okay, your turn! What are your favorite Trail recipes? Let us know with a comment below.