ITA member and volunteer Pauline Irish has been working hard on ITA trail maintenance projects since 2021 and this spring was trained to become an ITA backcountry cook. She cooked for her first crew on the Little Queens River Women Only project in July. Pauline is also a skilled outdoor photographer who most likes to take photos of any kind of water and her dog Bella. She recently volunteered to help represent ITA at a booth at an event in Boise and shared a sweet story with us from her experience:
On August 27, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the ITA booth at the Goathead Festival in Boise. My day was spent telling people about Idaho Trails Association and what we do and how they can be part of ITA. Our booth had a lot of people stop by, very interested in the organization and the trail maintenance projects. There were men and women of all ages who stopped and asked questions, and of course, lots of kids and adults taking a turn at the cross saw. I was really glad to see the interest expressed by women who wanted to get involved, but many were hesitant about doing trail maintenance. I explained the WOW (Women’s Only) projects and several people indicated they were going to look into it further.
Fast forward to this past weekend, where I was volunteering on a WOW project at Bear Valley Hot Springs. As we were getting started on Saturday morning, a young woman came up to me and asked if I was at the Goathead Festival a few weeks earlier. Her name was Alyssa Felzien and she told me that after we spoke at the Goathead Festival she went home and got on the wait list for the Bear Valley weekend project. On Thursday, just two days before the project began, a space opened up on the trip. Alyssa said she cancelled all her weekend plans and made new plans to attend the ITA project.
During the first day, I checked in with Alyssa and asked her how she was enjoying the day. She had a big smile and said that it really made her look differently at trails and to think about who maintains them. On Sunday, Alyssa and I were on a crosscut team together and she shared that she really enjoyed meeting new people and working together with complete strangers to accomplish so much. She said she was already trying to figure out how to get time off to do longer projects next year. As we were hiking out on Sunday, after clearing over 4 miles of trail, we passed a couple hiking in with their dogs. They thanked us and said they really appreciated the work we were doing. Alyssa was hiking in front of me and turned around and said “Yeah, that felt good.”
I am looking forward to working on more projects with Alyssa.
Thank you so much Pauline for the many different ways that you are supporting trail work including sharing your passion with new volunteers!