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WTA's Crew Leaders

Meet your crew leaders.

WTA's experienced crew leaders represent our values of stewardship and volunteerism; cooperation and partnership, community and inclusion on trail. And they sure do like to have fun!

The crew leader for your work party may be a WTA employee or volunteer, but there’s one thing every crew leader has in common: a love of trails and a passion for teaching others.

CLC-6.jpgVolunteers, staff and partners at WTA's Crew Leader College, hosted by the Snoqualmie Ranger District in North Bend. At this annual gathering, crew leaders attend and teach classes on trail building and maintenance. Photo by Anna Roth.

WTA offers ongoing training to help crew leaders keep their trail skills up-to-date, maintain certification for Wilderness First Aid and CPR, and hone their leadership and risk management techniques.

On your work party, you may hear other volunteers refer to the crew leader as the "blue hat," after the color of their hard hat. Crew members in orange hard hats are the assistant crew leaders. They're volunteers eager to pass on their love for building and maintaining trails to you.


Robert AlderBob Adler

Bob joined his first work party in 1998. It was a rainy bust. But the importance of trails kept him coming back. Bob likes being a crew leader to pass on that experience and have fun doing it. He thinks volunteers are the 'salt of the earth' and have the best intentions to give their time to a most worthy cause. Bob is continuously learning from the people he works with about finding joy in one's life. As a Chicago boy, that was an enormous lesson to learn. Bob tries to pass on the joy with fun and smiles.


Clarissa crew leading_200x200.jpgCLARISSA ALLEN (They/Them)

Clarissa's love for the outdoors was sparked during their childhood in rural Kentucky, where they spent lots of time playing with critters, walking in the woods and swimming. They worked on trail crews in Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona before moving to Washington to study education. Although Clarissa loves working on trail with folks of all ages, they especially enjoy working with youth. They're a plant nerd who thinks that nurse logs are just the absolute coolest, so their favorite hikes meander through forests on their way to ... anywhere, really! Email: clarissa@wta.org

 


Jane Baker smallJANE BAKER

Jane adopted Spokane as home in 1984, migrating from the Midwest: "a great place to be from." During the week she is a physical therapist in an outpatient clinic. She got her first taste of trail work more than 20 years ago with the Sierra Club, with whom she did service trips in Idaho and Colorado. When word trickled down that there was an organization right here in Washington that specialized in volunteer trail work, she jumped right in, leading off with WTA Volunteer Vacations. These days you'll find Jane leading work parties on the Colville National Forest, where you have just as great a chance of running into a moose as a fellow hiker, and other locations in Eastern Washington.


Karen BeanKaren Bean

Karen moved here from Chicago IL in 2015 looking for adventure. Illinois was far too flat and had way too much corn. Being just over 5 feet in height, the mountains help her feel tall. Her first day volunteering with WTA had her on one side of a crosscut saw cutting a 3-foot diameter tree. She was hooked. Her background working in museums for the last 15 years helped drive her quest for knowledge. When not hiking, biking, and backpacking she enjoys teaching and learning trail construction skills. The dirt and mud drew her into WTA, and the amazing community of new friends has kept her coming back.


Jacob MandellMichael Bellis

Mike has a passion for wild places and the trails that take him there. Educated in wildlife biology and forestry, he somehow ended up in veterinary medicine and spends his workdays managing a practice in Bellingham. Crew leading for WTA gives him a chance to get a deeper connection with the North Cascades and the wonderful community of people that he shares them with. When he isn’t working on trails you can find Mike deep in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies or Montana...or more likely chasing his favorite band Phish from sea to shining sea.


Carole BianquisCarole Bianquis

Carole moved to Seattle in 1995. The first summer she started solo hiking, starting with hikes in the Issaquah Alps, then venturing along I-90 and Mt Rainier. She acquired most the ‘Best Hikes’ books to find more trails, kept hiking and discovered the WTA website. She started with the trail maintenance program in 2007 and has been hooked since then. It also helped her expand her hiking horizon to Mt Baker and the South while supporting day crews or Volunteer vacations. She enjoys the constant learning of new skills that trail maintenance brings and working with volunteers, teaching the why’s and the how’s of trail maintenance.


Lisa Black

Lisa grew up in Seattle with WTA's original newsletter Signpost fueling her youthful summer hiking. As an adult, she came back to WTA for the magazine and went on her first work party 14 years ago. Since then, she has worn green, orange and blue hats, and served eight years on WTA's board of directors. Teaching new folks about what it takes to maintain trails we love and getting them back to the trailhead safely is challenging, fun, and satisfying. Lisa also works toward strengthening WTA's presence in the south central part of the state around the Tri-Cities, where she now calls home.


Arlen BogaardsArlen Bogaards

Arlen runs the WTA show in Northwest Washington, crew leading work parties, representing WTA at outreach events and promoting hiking in the area. Somehow, in between all of this he finds time to feed the animals on his small farm. After years in the construction field, Arlen finally united his work with his passion: trails. He enjoys a good day hike in a high meadow or a backpacking trip in the desolate North Cascades, and his favorite hike is Skyline Divide. If he ever gets the chance, he would like to section hike the Pacific Crest Trail.


BARBARA BUDD

More than 15 years ago, Barbara succumbed to her need for the mountains by taking a year-long job in Washington. She's been finding excuses to stay ever since, including working trails for the Forest Service, where she started as a volunteer wilderness ranger at her favorite place, Lyman Lake. After all, can anything be better than living in a tent for three months surrounded by mountains, lakes, glaciers, and alpine meadows? Maybe only one thing: working with volunteers maintaining trails to those places. What a deal! When she's not out on the trail, Barbara loves to travel, sing, and dance.  Hmmm...guess you can do those things on the trail, too.


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Meg Bushnell

Meg has always loved active vacations instead of plopping on a beach, hiking in places like Scotland, Ireland, Patagonia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and even admiring the tiny alpine flora of the Arctic Circle. Originally from LA, she knew that forests and mountains belonged in her heart, and was able to go crazy with that love on moving to Bellingham after living in Nashville, TN for 27 years, quickly finding WTA to make a new happy post-retirement career as a trail work volunteer. She loves fleece, the sound of a sleeping bag zipper in the night, and isn’t phased by cloudy rainy weather. She is perpetually amazed by the beauty of Washington and the wealth of wonderful trails, and loves to payback those gifts by helping other trail users learn, maintain and support the intense value of our trails.


Kaci at Nisqually_website.jpgKaci Darsow (they/them)

Kaci grew up poking around the rocky shores of Puget Sound and romping through cedar and sword fern forests. They come to WTA with extensive youth work experience in a variety of outdoor settings and an M.Ed. in Environmental Education. Kaci is returning home to the PNW from their most recent adventure—a year of teaching outdoor education in rural Alabama. They are stoked to ease into the world of office work by splitting their time facilitating youth work parties and serving as a support system for Youth Volunteer Vacations. When they're not inspiring youth, Kaci loves cross-country road trips, learning new things, singing off-key in their car, climbing trees and dismantling the patriarchy. 


Alan Carter Mortimer

Alan carter Mortimer

It took Alan 11 years of volunteering with WTA to decide he liked it enough to stay. If you’ve ever wondered how WTA decides what work to do on which trails, talk to Alan. He coordinates with land managers to plan trail projects in the Olympics and South Sound as well as Central and Eastern Washington. He works to ensure that volunteers have a safe, fun and rewarding experience on trail. Alan, also goes by Ace, Sheldon or Mort. One of his favorite hikes is the Shedroof Divide in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness of Eastern Washington.


Phil Cook

Phil Cook

Phil decided at the ripe old age of 12 to work in the woods the rest of his life after his first week-long hike along the Cascade Crest Trail, and an encounter with a Forest Service trail crew. Midway through his career in forestry he noticed that he was spending more time driving a desk than working in the brush, so in 2000 he volunteered on a WTA work party and found what that 12 year old had been looking for. Since retiring, the pendulum has swung back to more trail time for Phil, and a balance between work and recreation. He looks forward to sharing many more WTA volunteer experiences in the future.


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Todd Dunfield

Growing up in Europe, Todd got started hiking at an early age doing volksmarches (organized 5km hikes) with his family around the German countryside. Today he resides in Spokane with his wife and three children where he works in land conservation at the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy. Todd picked up his first pulaski and volunteered with WTA on the Franklin Falls Trail while completing his masters degree in Seattle back in 2001. Since that time he has served on WTA's board of directors and was an assistant crew leader for a few years before becoming a crew leader in 2016. Todd really enjoys volunteering on work parties in the Spokane area and the Salmo Priest Wilderness.


Austin with helmet_website.jpgAustin Easter

Austin hails from Seattle and holds deep connections to the misty winters and craggy alpine mountains of the North Cascades. He became involved with WTA in high school and now leads volunteer crews all over the state and in week-long backcountry trips. A rock and book nerd at heart, he majored in geology at Whitman College with an emphasis in politics and environmental studies. While there, he worked as an instructor at the climbing gym and led numerous backpacking and climbing trips all over the Northwest. He is most passionate about supporting volunteers to achieve a sense of place and belonging in the outdoors while focusing on the need to conserve, preserve, and protect these wild environments. He loves any hike that involve climbing and obstacles whether traversing the north ridge of Mount Stuart in a day or scrambling over headlands and hiking the 40-mile coast from Rialto to Shi Shi. 


gary.jpgGary Fralick

Gary was born and raised in Whatcom County. He has always enjoyed being in the outdoors, weather it was fishing in the mountain streams or skiing on Mt. Baker. Being in the woods came natural to Gary. It started when he got married and had a wood stove fireplace to heat their house.  Now after cutting over 500 cords of wood, burning it for his family, he is enjoying hanging up his chainsaw and picking up his crosscut saw.  Gary was a runner and used the Chuckanut trails for training. But after a knee injury and retirement he found his passion in trail work with Washington Trail Association.  He enjoys watching and teaching  a first time volunteer what it takes to maintain trails.  Gary also volunteers for other agencies that need trees to be cleared off the trails. He follows in his grandfathers footsteps, who worked for the Department of Natural Resources. 


Jen GradisherJen Gradisher

Jen loves two things: working with people and working outdoors. With WTA, she's grateful for the chance to combine both of these passions. Her enthusiasm for trail work began as a youth when she spent a month building rock structures on the Appalachian Trail with the Student Conservation Association. It took many years and many dreams of Pulaskis before Jen returned to the magical world of trail maintenance as a crew leader for the Northwest Youth Corps and later with WTA in Mount Rainier National Park and the greater Seattle area. In her current role, you can find Jen splitting her time between the office and scouting trails in the Puget Sound region.


Tom Griffith

Tom has been hiking for most of his life; first in Northeastern Pennsylvania where he was born; then in Southern California where he split his love of surfing at the nearby beaches and backpacking in the Sierras including a through-hike on the John Muir Trail; saving the best for last, he has spent the last 25+ years hiking and backpacking in the spectacular Cascades. Soon after retiring from a career in public safety, Tom met WTA’s SW Manager, Ryan Ojerio while out on a hike. Ryan chatted up WTA’s trail maintenance program, of course, the result was that Tom immediately volunteered for his first WTA work party and has been volunteering ever since.

Tom believes that WTA provides a fulfilling opportunity to maintain and build trails in our beautiful state with the nicest, most friendly, and diverse cadre of trail enthusiasts that can be found anywhere. Whether he is wearing a green. orange, or blue hat, Tom always is learning new trail skills from his fellow volunteers, receiving far more trail knowledge than he can provide.

WTA – Come for the trail work, stay for the terrific community of amazing volunteers.


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Guy Hamblen

Guy recently retired as an engineer with UPS IT in north NJ. He's originally from the Portland metro area but moved east with his job. After 23 years, he's back in the Pacific Northwest and he'll trade the PNW rain for the NE cold, snow and/or humidity any day! He's been outdoors oriented all his life and has thoroughly enjoyed skiing/backpacking/mountaineering in the west. After moving back, Guy joined WTA and got involved in trail work as a means to "give back and pay it forward". He's also a seasonal volunteer Wilderness Ranger with Gifford Pinchot NF (Mt Adams District) and spends a lot of trail miles in some fabulous hiking areas as well as weekends on Mt Adams South Climb, Indian Heaven and Trapper Creek wilderness areas. Lately, in his spare time, Guy has been involved in trail skills education with Trailkeepers of Oregon and the Gorge Recover Team efforts.


Don Hammon

Don is a Chief Crew Leader volunteering in the Olympics on Backcountry Response Teams (BCRT). He started volunteering in 2009. He enjoys working with people and ensuring they have a safe and fulfilling time out on trail. No matter what skill level, WTA encourages volunteers to bring what they have and learn throughout the day, all while having fun, being safe and usually working harder than you ever expected. Don believes you never stop learning about trail maintenance: "The folks we volunteer with are amazing and always willing to share what they know. They come from all walks of life, young and even older than me." When he's not scouting his next BCRT, Don works for a technology company as a supply chain materials engineer working with folks all over the world. After work, Don looks forward to spending time with family, working on house projects, and volunteering with WTA.


Stasia and map_website.jpgsTASIA hONNOLD

Legend has it that one of Stasia's first words was "outside," and she's been trying to stay outside as much as humanly possible ever since. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2001, to the chagrin of her sun-loving family, and finally found her way to WTA in 2018. In the interim, she spent her time wrangling kiddos and volunteers as a 7th grade teacher, young adult mentor, conservation crew leader, stewardship coordinator, and volunteer manager—all of which capitalize on her extreme cheerfulness and ability to sit quietly with chaos. In her non-work time, she can be found questing for adventure on her bicycle, running on trails, or getting ridiculously excited about plants and birds. She is a firm believer in wonder and enthusiasm, and her favorite answer to things is a resounding "yes!" 


Leanna JensenLeeAnne Jensen

LeeAnne, a transplant from Michigan, started her trail career after college on the beautiful, wooded slopes of Vermont with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Upon moving to Washington, LeeAnne spent two years working in the Tiger Mountain State Forest for the Washington Conservation Corps, honing her trail skills and learning a lot about the woods of the Pacific Northwest. She spends her work days and non-work days outside in all forms of weather, but prefers snow to anything else. During the summer months she's a roving crew leader, traveling to lead crews where needed; in winter she spends her time leading crews closer to home in King County. 


Elaine Keavney

Elaine Keavney

Elaine is a native of Portland, and grew up doing day hikes with her family, mostly in the Columbia Gorge. When she met her husband Pat, they did occasional backpacking as their own family of three boys grew. She is a registered nurse who worked many years in emergency departments before switching to nursing education until her retirement from full time work in 2015. Elaine volunteers on both sides of the river, with both WTA and Trailkeepers of Oregon. She and Pat have been volunteering with WTA in some capacity since 2004 when they tried their first volunteer vacation. Now most of the WTA work is on Thursdays with the wonderful Southwest Region “Thursday crew”. She serves on the TKO board as well as volunteering as a crew leader. She especially loves new trail construction and teaching new skills to volunteers.


IMG_1747.jpgMicki Kedzierski

Michaelene (Micki) Kedzierski joined her first work party in 2007 and became an ACL in 2009. In Autumn 2020, she became the first Volunteer Blue Hat for the Youth and Family Program. She also leads at the WTA Packing Facility and is an ACL on adult trips primarily in Puget Sound and Western Washington. She’s originally from Wisconsin (where there are no mountains) and loves being in a forest in all kinds of weather.


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Jerome Lemke

Jerome grew up in Minnesota enjoying the outdoors and spending as much time as he could in the woods. He enjoys hiking, hunting, fishing, camping and has participated in dog sled races for the past 25 years. After moving to Washington and finding the WTA website, he became hooked on trail work and the mountains. He likes to be able to use his skills and teach others. One of the most enjoyable things to do is to build rock structures. Being on trail and in the woods is a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is really inspiring to be able to teach someone a new skill and see the look of confidence and satisfaction on their face when we are done for the day. 


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AL MaSHBURN

After spending time since the early 60’s hiking in the Olympics, Al decided to start giving back to the trails when he retired in 2014. It only took a few trips out with Charlie, to get Al “hooked” on trail work, enjoying many BCRTs, and as many Tuesdays as possible. Says Al, “It’s nice to work with so many folks who understand the importance of keeping these trails open and inviting to hike, and want to constantly improve their skills to make that work last longer.” A lifetime resident of Gig Harbor, Al also enjoys various projects around the property during the good weather, and puttering in the woodshop when it’s nasty.


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Erin McMillin

Erin grew up in Denver, CO and loved playing with dirt and seedlings in her garden or exploring the Rocky Mountains through Girl Scout camp. In 2015 she moved to Tacoma to study biology and economics at University of Puget Sound. She was drawn in by the tall trees, endless water, and vibrant art community of the North West and now calls Washington her home. With a background in science education, youth leadership, and habitat restoration, Erin is starting her journey with WTA as the 2021 seasonal Logistics Coordinator for the Volunteer Vacation program. When not working outside, Erin loves to backpack, make homemade hot sauce, and play mandolin and guitar!

Doug MurrayDoug Murray

Doug grew up along the shore of Eld Inlet outside of Olympia. He spent much of his time exploring the beach and the woods around his family home. He also got his first taste of trail work on trails on the family property and cutting firewood with crosscut saws. After over 30 years at a desk job, Doug was glad to get back to doing physical work on trails with WTA. Starting in 2012, Doug worked on local trails in the Puget Sound region and does multiple backcountry trips throughout the state every year. As a crew leader, Doug enjoys meeting and chatting with the wide variety of people who volunteer with WTA. He encourages all volunteers to learn new skills and to see what what can be accomplished using only human muscle, brain power and teamwork. When asked, Doug usually says that whatever trail he is on and work he is doing is his favorite because nothing is like experiencing nature in the present moment.


Doug MurrayJustine nishitani

Justine grew up in Seattle and got her start volunteering with the North Cascades Institute and the Student Conservation Association in high school. Through her volunteer experiences with those organizations she grew to love hiking and trail work and decided to attend Humboldt State University to pursue a degree in Environmental Management and Protection. She has worked for the Mount Baker Ranger District (USFS) as a member of the trail crew, engine crew, and has worked as a Wilderness Ranger and Volunteer Coordinator the last five summers. She loves hiking, doing art, swimming, cooking (and eating), learning to identify new plants, and playing games. Justine is beyond excited to return to the WTA this winter as the Seasonal Crew Lead for the NW Washington region.


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Ryan Ojerio

Ryan is, in and of himself, a WTA microcosm in Southwest Washington. He leads volunteers, scouts projects, advocates for trails and promotes hiking in Southwest Washington. Armed with a Masters in Community and Regional Planning and several years of experience managing crews for the Northwest Youth Corps, Ryan is more than up to the task of handling all these different parts of the program in the Southwest. Although these days his hiking pace is set by his daughter and new son, there was a time when he solo backpacked through Yosemite National Park and mountaineered in Peru. One day, Ryan would like to take a summer-long motorcycle tour to visit all the trails he's ever worked on.


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Charlotte Romine

Out hiking or backpacking almost every weekend, Charlotte (or Charlie) wanted to give back and started volunteering with the Ojai Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest when she lived in California. She wanted to continue this type of work, so the week after she moved to Washington she came out on her first WTA work party -- and she's been a WTA regular ever since. Now retired from the navy construction battalion after 30 years, Charlie is WTA's chief crew leader on the Olympic Peninsula, where she puts her skills to work these days building bridges (and other things) on trails. During the winter Charlie relocates to Florida to be with her parents, but each summer she returns to the Pacific Northwest. When she isn't doing trail work, you can find her out hiking with her dogs or volunteering with other nonprofits. 


dawn-rorvik.jpgDawn Rorvik

Dawn's introduction to trail work came in high school, working for the Youth Conservation Corps in Southern Utah. After graduating high school, growing a small research business, and 38 years she returned to trail maintenance. She joined WTA in 2016 and spends most of her time on the Olympic Peninsula.


IMG_1915.jpgEmily Snyder

Emily discovered WTA in 2013 and fell in love with trail work. She grew up locally, tucked between sword ferns and salmon berries, and was forever climbing trees and covered in pine sap. Not much has changed. Her intro to trail work began building new trails at Evans Creek Park and after her first time on a cross cut saw, she was hooked. As a crew lead, her favorite trips are BCRT logouts and her favorite projects are lost trails found. You will most likely find her with an axe in hand practicing her bucking skills, or talking with volunteers and hikers swapping stories and exchanging trail beta. She is excited to be leading trail crews out of Darrington off Mountain Loop Highway this season.


Gabe Smith

Gabe Smith

Gabe grew up in the Colorado Rockies and spent much of his childhood being out in nature. He moved to the NW in 1978 and found a forever home here. Working with WTA for a number of years has reinforced the sense of creating a positive impact for many people, learning from those participating in a work party, and experiencing the newness of a freshly worked trail were significant incentives. Gabe enjoys all aspects of trail work but really enjoys building structures with wood or rock or being involved with logouts. His focus is to promote trail maintenance to those he meets on the trail, especially to encourage young people to get involved with this type of work. Gabe has six granddaughters who are involved in trail work and they eagerly await the next opportunity to play in the mud. Haeli, Gabe’s daughter’s oldest, is a WTA Youth Ambassador. Gabe's daughter and son and their spouses have all worked on trails and continue to instill in their children the importance of this work. They are the future of trails in Washington.


Elizabeth Storm

Elizabeth Storm

The smell of trees and dirt has always been home for this 4th generation Washingtonian growing up in a family that owns timber land, loves tent camping and being outside. Elizabeth has been covered in dirt for as long she can remember. From Girl Scout camps to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, fresh air has always been a big part of who she is. After getting her taste of trail crew with her dad in the summer of 2017 at Mt. Rainer, she has been coming back ever since – especially Mt. Rainier National Park. When not volunteering with WTA or Girl Scout's of Western Washington you can find Elizabeth planning her next big adventure, camping, or enjoying the beauty of the Cascade Mountains.


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MarjI Sullivan

Mountains and beaches, the more remote the better, were the best part of Marj’s
growing up. Living just a few miles from Northern California beaches combined with helping her parents build a cabin in the Sierras instilled a deep love of nature and the satisfaction of working hard together to create something. The freedom to roam was paramount. Marji’s wanderlust spirit and need for less populated places took her to the Pacific Northwest to attend college in 1970. The beauty of the Cascades with their majestic glacier covered peaks called to some inner place and she knew the PNW was where she wanted to be. Throughout the years, alpine reaches and high peaks offered balance to the complexity of life. In 2016 Marji was introduced to WTA and found a great retirement hobby. Working together with interesting people to create something purposeful, in nature, brings great satisfaction. While her love of the Cascades and the high peaks remains strong she has also discovered the beauty and calling of the deep forests and rushing rivers of the Olympic Peninsula.


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Patrick Sullivan

Growing up Patrick developed an attachment to outdoor spaces in Arizona. While the desert regions were interesting, it was exciting to discover that the mountainous regions of the State have lovely pine forests. The love of the outdoors was cemented while spending summers during college working for the Forest Service in the Diamond Lake District. While hired for fire suppression work, the time between fire activity involved trail building and other forest maintenance activities. During this period he also moved to the Pacific NW. His degree from Oregon State University includes a minor in Forest Products. Upon retirement in 2015, he attended his first work party and shortly thereafter was hooked. “I have met so many interesting folks while out doing the important work of improving the trails. WTA is so much more than just the physical trail work.” He became a volunteer chief crew leader out of a desire to provide an opportunity for WTA work parties on the Kitsap Peninsula and NE Olympic Peninsula.


Jay Headshot.jpgJeremy "Jay" Tarife

Jeremy aka "Jay" hails from northern New Jersey. Longing for a place with dense forests and wide open spaces, he finally found that here in the Pacific Northwest. He began volunteering with WTA which led to work as an assistant crew leader then crew leader on the trails in the busy I-90 corridor. Majoring in Biology and Bio-Defense, he created and managed a medical scribe company prior to moving here. While on Jay's trail work party, you may end up on one of his weekly video recaps and give this week’s trail confession. When not working, you’ll find him pretending to do outdoorsy adventures such as mountain biking, snowboarding, and backpacking for Instagram pictures.


Jacob Tice_200x200.PNGJacob tice

Jacob, dirt, and trees go way back. Raised in SW Michigan, he learned to enjoy working hard outside at the young age of six, when his parents decided to turn ten acres of deciduous woods into farmland and trails...using only hand tools. He has carried an appreciation for the interwoven relationship between land, people, and our histories together ever since. He found his way to the Northwest ten years ago via rugged, rainy Southeast Alaska after working as a bilingual Interpretive Ranger with the National Park Service. Coming to WTA from elementary special education, he is thrilled to join on as a SW district crew lead. He loves playing music, speaking Spanish, and is a forever-grad student at pun university.


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BRANDON TIGner

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Brandon discovered his passion for the outdoors first as a volunteer and then as an assistant crew leader with the Maine Appalachian Trail Crew. Making his way to the Pacific Northwest he WWOOFed on an organic farm, conducted salmonid life cycle surveys, and worked construction. Jumping back into the trail world, Brandon spent two incredible seasons with WTA as the Southwest Regional Trail Crew Leader before joining Trailkeepers of Oregon as their North Coast Stewardship Coordinator. Brandon is excited to be back with WTA working in the Majestic Cascade Mountains as well as the North Puget Sound Region! Brandon’s other passions include playing guitar, eating pizza, and adventuring with his wife and two dogs (and soon to be son or daughter!)


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Zachary toliver

Zachary spent most of his life bouncing around various rural Midwestern towns before finally settling down in the Pacific Northwest—largely because of the region's unrivaled landscapes and its phenomenal vegan food. In 2020, he joined WTA as a member of a paid program that focused on outdoor leadership development for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and LGBTQ+ individuals. Zach now spends his summers leading WTA's backcountry Pro Crew, which strives to restore lost and overgrown trails throughout Washington. Coming full circle, he also works as a program coordinator for the same program that gave him his start at WTA. Outside of advocating for communities historically underrepresented in the outdoor industry, you can find Zach playing banjo for a captive audience (aka "the two dogs who live with him"), rock climbing, or riding around on his motorcycle. 


20201205_113057.jpgLiz Ulloa

Growing up in rural Maine, Liz spent as much time as possible playing in the woods near her home.  As life went on, she gradually moved West - Indiana, Wisconsin and eventually Western Washington.  The ability to easily get to mountains or ocean brings her joy. Liz started volunteering with WTA in 2007 after thru-hiking the AT, where she discovered that trails don't make themselves. Upon becoming an orange hat in 2009, she found a love of teaching trail work with a lot of humor. When not doing trail work, you may find her wandering around the Middle Fork Snoqualmie valley, specifically the Pratt Connector. She's the first to say there are trails that just suck us in.


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KEN VANDVER

In 1998, Ken discovered WTA while seeking something to do on National Trails Day, got hooked, and has remained active since then. In 2000, Ken undertook his first self-supported overnight backcountry work party (the precursor to Backcountry Response Teams or BCRTs) with Matt Contorchick. Starting with Greg Ball in 1999, Ken was eventually persuaded by Olympic Peninsula crew leaders to take on a leadership role. He became an assistant crew leader in 2006 and a chief crew leader in 2013. Being a crew leader enables Ken to teach others about trail maintenance safety and skills, and affords him the satisfaction of watching them beam with pride over their work. Ken believes the trail work program is important because volunteers learn what it takes to maintain trails, thus fostering respect for them.


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BEATRIZ ROJAS VAZQUEZ

Beatriz Rojas Vazquez aka "Bea" is a movie fanatic, thespian, and foodie. When Bea isn't trying to learn useless skills (if there ever is such a thing), like speedcubing (I stand corrected). You will find her planning "gameshows and tournaments" in which Bea's most competitive and ruthless friends attempt to complete a series of challenges (poor sportsmanship, cheating and playing dirty is encouraged) in order to win the golden Pineapple. When Bea isn't talking malarkey she enjoys rock climbing, biking, and the occasional polar bear plunge. Bea is a climate activist focused on dismantling the patriarchy and move towards rebuilding an equitable society. Bea won't neglect the power of her peoples stories'. Bea wears her braids proudly. Bea speaks her language excitedly.  Bea hopes to embody WTA's mission of safety, FUN, and work on her work parties. They hope that people can find a place to be their authentic selves, be treated the way they want to be treated and have fun.


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Owen vogeli

Owen was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and has been hiking on its trails since he was young. He loves to rock climb, mountain bike, hike, and ski; anything that gets him into the mountains and fresh air. He has worked for WTA for the past 5 years when he wasn’t in school studying environmental science. While he loves to camp, he also loves comfort. If you see Owen out on a trip, he will almost certainly have his beach chair and pillow in tow!


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Rebecca Wanagel

Known as Becca to her WTA family, Rebecca first got into trail work as a way to be in the mountains after doing too much trail running. Becoming a volunteer crew leader was an offshoot of this passion, combined with a talent for teaching and a love for leading people of similar passions. When she's not not out sawing trees or fixing trails, Becca works as a private math tutor in Port Angeles. Working on trails brings her joy, but so does using them. Becca loves remote mountain lakes and getting far enough into the backcountry to be able to easily step over the headwaters of all our major, glorious and wild rivers. Some people bag peaks, Becca bags lakes and headwaters.


Holly Weiler Staff Photo

Holly Weiler

Holly’s passion for trails has its roots in trail running, but over the years she has transitioned into a seasoned backpacker who loves her time in the backcountry. When she’s not running or backpacking, you can find her doing trail maintenance. An early introduction to trail work through Conservation Northwest turned into a bit of an obsession, and she's now the proud owner of four crosscut saws and two Pulaskis. After several seasons of volunteer trail work and Hike-a-Thoning for WTA, she's excited to be doing outreach and leading trail work in the Spokane area.


Mason "Mace" White

Mason started volunteering with WTA in 2002 and served on WTA's board of directors for several years. One thing he loves about crew leading is helping people learn how to tackle a complex project by breaking it down into manageable elements of effort and risk. He also enjoys listening to people describe their recent or favorite hikes. He's personally partial to trails that get people out to remote reaches of wilderness and the ones he can walk to from his home. Mace has a reputation for running strenuous Backcountry Response Team trips, but he wants future crews to know that he isn't that bad. He often lets people eat lunch while there's still light in the sky.


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Bob Zimmerman

Bob hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in 2015. In his teens and early twenties, he was an avid hiker, and subscribed to the Signpost newsletter to help direct his hikes. His worn copy of "100 Hikes in Western Washington" is one of his favorite treasures. His PCT hike inspired him to want to give back to the hiking community. In 2016, he discovered WTA. His first volunteer trip was a Volunteer Vacation to Prince Creek on Lake Chelan. Ever since, he has been hooked on volunteering. Bob is known for his love of tread work, and views trail work as a form of artistic expression.


Gary Zink

To Gary, the best part of leading is the camaraderie built with great volunteers and having the chance to continuously learn from crew members. He started volunteering with WTA in 1999, was asked to be a leader shortly after, and hasn't stopped since. Gary attends day trips, leads BCRTs and fills in where needed, but logouts are his favorite. He especially enjoys logouts on the PCT in the Pasayten from Harts Pass to Rainy Pass and the Pratt River trail. If he has one bit of advice for his future crews, it's this: become a champion of anything, just something. When it comes time for candy breaks, Gary reaches for the KitKat bars first.