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May 2019 E-blaze

May 2019
2019 Florida Folk Festival
North Florida Trail Program Manager, Jeff Glenn, writes:
The 67th annual Florida Folk Festival took place at Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs this past Memorial Day Weekend. The Florida Trail Association was there doing outreach work for three days talking to festival goers about the trail and soaking in the hundreds of musical performances, folklife, and crafts. The trail crosses through the State Park and one of the music stages even sits directly on the trail! Jeff and Alex were there representing FTA staff, and Shawn Thomas with the US Forest Service was also representing the trail. Two rockstar FTA volunteers from the Panhandle Chapter, Melissa and Darryl Updegrove, also tabled for the FTA. They graciously led a hike in near 100 degree heat on Sunday morning! This is an annual outreach event that we look forward to throughout the year and it is never disappointing.
Thank you, Halle!
Halle hiking the Pacific Crest Trail during the National Trails Conference in Vancouver, WA. October 2018. Photo captured by Samantha Haas, Partnership for National Trails System.
FT Program Director, Alex Stigliano, writes:
The FTA is saying goodbye to Halle Goldstein, our now former Gateway Communities Program Coordinator. Since July 2018, Halle has worked with local business and government partners in our 11 Gateway Communities. She also coordinated the implementation of the very popular Florida Trail Passport program. Halle is moving on to work full time with the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection as an Environmental Specialist. When Halle first started her work with us, she had just finished her undergraduate studies at FSU (Major in Psychology & Minor in Child Development), and her brief professional experience was in occupational therapy. We believe Halle’s work with the FTA inspired her decision to work in environmental protection. 😉
Fair winds and following seas, Halle!
If you know a recent college graduate that would be interested in applying for the now vacant part-time position of Gateway Communities Coordinator, please direct them HERE to learn more.
National Trails Day
American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day© is a nationally recognized trail awareness program that occurs annually on the first Saturday of June and inspires the public to discover, learn about and celebrate trails while participating in outdoor activities, clinics, and trail stewardship projects. National Trails Day encourages people to discover their local trails, become active concerning trail issues and share their excitement for the outdoors. National Trails Day is a registered trademark of American Hiking Society.
How will you celebrate National Trails Day®?
Join the FTA Central Florida Chapter on Saturday, June 1 from 9AM to 12PM in celebrating National Trails Day®! They will be hiking 5-6 miles at Orlando Wetlands Park to celebrate. More information can be found on their Meetup page.
Be sure to pack out trash along your hike and join the effort in leaving our trails better. Be sure to capture the spirit of your National Trails Day® experience with a photo and you could win a gear prize package. Share you photos with us on Instagram by using #NationalTrailsDay and tag @AmericanHiking to enter your best photos from the trail. Tag your photos by June 9 for a chance to win.
For a list of National Trails Day events in other places, visit the American Hiking Society website.
Alaqua Bridge Dedication
June 14, 2019 in Niceville, FL
Join us in celebrating the Florida Trail’s newest and longest suspension bridge! Planning and construction of the Alaqua Bridge has been an extensive, long-term and collaborative project between the U.S. Forest Service, the Florida Trail Association, the Choctawhatchee and Western Gate Chapters, Framing Our Community, Eglin Air Force Base/Jackson Guard and land owners, Mr. Winegarner and Mr. Gainey. This inaugural event and ribbon cutting will showcase the significant efforts of these partners.
If you are interested in attending, please contact Shawn Thomas at shawn.c.thomas@usda.gov as he will be coordinating shuttle access and meeting locations.
Save the Date
Upcoming FTA Special Events
The Panhandle Chapter Presents:
@ Compass Lake in the Hills: Cabins, Camper sites & Tent sites available
Come celebrate hiking Panhandle Trails again after Hurricane Michael!
*More details to come
Join the Panhandle Chapter’s Meetup page & follow them on Facebook for continued updates.
Ride the Divide
Warrior Expeditions
FT Program Director, Alex Stigliano, writes:
I first learned of Warrior Expeditions in 2014, shortly after joining the FT Program staff, and I immediately connected to their mission. I came from a professional background of leading people on multi-day backcountry expeditions. I saw first-hand the transformative effect of time spent outdoors. I believe nature can bring out the best in people. Time spent away from roads, electricity, and commerce challenges us with new perspectives that inspire positive changes to our lives and communities. This is the basic premise ofWarrior Expeditions.
Warrior Expeditions is a veteran nonprofit outdoor therapy program that helps veterans transition from their wartime experiences. The program recognizes the therapeutic effects of long distance outdoor treks. With the support of the FTA and US Forest Service, Warrior Expeditions has sponsored veterans to hike the entire Florida Trail. These warriors and their stories have inspired many of us, including Mike Umbarger, an FTA member, volunteer and veteran.
Mike recently spoke with me about how Warrior Expeditions inspired him to create Ride the Divide for Warriors, a long-distance biking journey designed to raise support for this impactful program.
“Back in 2013 I was fortunate enough to complete my 2 ½ year section hike of the Florida Trail with my two sons, Zack 15 years old and Cody “Bear” 12 years old. We are still very thankful to the members and volunteers of the Florida Trail Association who made our adventure possible. I believe Ride the Divide for Warriors is a cause that FTA members would want to support.
“This August, Scott Renaux, Wilson Ospina, and I will be riding our mountain bikes along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. This 10 week, 3084-mile adventure will start in Jasper Alberta Canada heading south along the great divide to the border of Mexico, ending at Antelope Wells, NM. The purpose of this ride is to raise awareness and funds for Warrior Expeditions.
“Warrior Expeditions states that it cost approximately $5000 to equip and send one veteran on a long distance expedition (at no cost to the veteran). Ride the Divide for Warriors endeavors to raise $20,000 in order to send an entire Fire-Team (4-person team) on an expedition.
Mike has asked the FTA to pass along the following challenge to our members:
The Ride the Divide for Warriors team would like to challenge each member of the Florida Trail Association to donate just $2.00 to Warrior Expeditions help veterans recover from their wartime experience. With your help, members of the Florida Trail Association can fully equip and send more veterans on long-term expeditions.
To make a tax deductible donation, please visit the link below and click on the donate button. Also, please click on the “add special instructions to the seller,” and enter “FTA” so that the members of the Florida Trail Association can be recognized for their support.
You can learn more about Ride the Divide for Warriors and follow their adventure on the following pages (click to follow the link):
Florida Trail Association | 1-877-HIKE-FLA | floridatrail.org