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Volunteer

New to volunteering with the Benton MacKaye Trail Association? We’re here to help. No matter what your skill or interest, we have an opportunity for you!

The Benton MacKaye Trail Association depends on volunteers.

Trail Maintenance

Who

Each month BMTA volunteers hike and clear the trail to make it safe and enjoyable for hikers. Our volunteers include women and men from all walks of life – retirees, students, artists, physicians, teachers, business owners and others – all with one goal in mind — to preserve and protect the Benton MacKaye Trail. They are supported by other volunteers who lead hikes, keep records, maintain our databases and promote the trail through social media and special events.

maintenance

Why

Whatever your background, age or hair color, the most important attribute for a volunteer to have is the desire to give back while working alongside others who love the outdoors.

  • There are many opportunities including:
  • Trail Maintainers – General
  • Trail Maintainers – Certified
  • Section Maintainers
  • Hike Leaders
  • Shuttle Drivers
  • Photographers and Videographers
  • Administrative Support volunteers for such jobs as computer record keeping, social media postings, editing and proof reading, graphic design and website development to name a few.
Footpath beauty

"Leaving a footpath for generations to follow.”

We want and need people like you to join us in preserving the trail while making it safer and more enjoyable for all hikers!

To give you a better idea of what it’s like be a Benton MacKaye Trail volunteer, check out the answers to our most frequently asked questions. Volunteering – FAQs

To find out more, use this form to contact us and let us know you want to volunteer.

Volunteer Today

Volunteer FAQs

  • What do volunteers do?

    To keep the trail open and hiker-friendly, we might do any of the following on a work day:

    Repair the pathway or tread with hoes, Pulaskis, shovels and rakes.

    Cut back brush and annual growth with swing blades (required in Wilderness Areas) or gas-powered brushcutters, loppers and pruning shears.

    Remove downed trees, (blowdowns) with crosscut saws (in Wilderness Areas) or chain saws in national forests.

    Remove branches and sticks by dragging off trail, with rakes — or simply by picking them up and throwing them off the trail.  There’s a job for everyone!

    Repair water diversions with rakes, hoes and shovels.

    Blaze the trail – the trail is marked with white diamond blazes painted on trees.

    Although chainsaw and crosscut saw work requires skilled, certified personnel; most trail work requires simple hard work and young people as well as senior citizens can participate.

  • I have no trail maintenance experience. What would I do?

    To start with, you could cut back brush along the trail with loppers or pruning shears. If you are comfortable with a hoe and shovel you could help repair the path (tread). Our goal is to find the right job for everyone and to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable day.

    You’ll want to watch two videos prepared by the National Forest Service. They are dated, but the information shared is relevant today.

    Introduction to Volunteering 

    Basic Trail Maintenance Introductory 

  • Is working on a trail crew hard work?

    Tasks will vary in their degree of intensity, but it can be demanding work. Volunteers need to be prepared to carry tools as well as their personal gear as they hike to and from the work area.

    Some work areas are near the trailhead but others may require volunteers to hike five miles or more. When possible, those not interested in a long hike will be assigned tasks near the trailhead.

  • What do you like best about trail maintaining?

    No doubt it’s being on the trail with a great bunch of people — always making new friends and learning new skills. It’s hard work, but it’s healthy and gives you a good workout. In addition, it is so satisfying to give back, and, as our motto says, “….leaving a path for generations to follow.”

  • Can young people like teenagers or even younger help out?

    Yes, we welcome them. They need to agree to follow all safety guidelines. If they do, we’ll definitely keep them busy.

  • What should I bring?

    Bring a daypack, a minimum of two liters of water, a lunch / snacks, gloves and wear good sturdy shoes or hiking boots (mid-height are fine) and long pants.

    The Benton MacKaye Trail Association provides helmets and tools.

  • When are work days scheduled?

    Teams go out the second Saturday of every month in Georgia.

    In Tennessee / North Carolina, we go out on the fourth Saturday of every month.

    (Except November and December. In those months, Tennessee / North Carolina work days are scheduled for the third Saturday due to the holidays).

    The only reason we would cancel or reschedule is:  the weather … when safety becomes an issue.

  • How would I find out about these work days?

    Sign Up for news, updates and announcements from the Benton MacKaye Trail Association or:

    Go to Facebook Benton MacKaye Trail Association and “like” and “follow” us.

    Go to Facebook Benton MacKaye Trail Maintenance and “like” and “follow” us.

    Go to Facebook Benton MacKaye Trail Hikers, and click on “+ Join Group” to become a member.

  • How does the Benton MacKaye Trail Association pay for tools, safety gear, materials and training?

    Membership dues and donations help to cover the cost of tool replacement, construction materials, training and other conservation efforts on the Benton MacKaye Trail.

    You can become a member today – $15 for a student, $15 for retired; $20 for an individual, $30 for a family and $50 for a business / corporation. Go to this link: MEMBERSHIP.

  • What are the hours for a work day?

    Depending on the planned work / the number of volunteers and conditions, the work starts between 9:00 and 9:30 AM and usually runs ‘til 3:00 — 5:00 PM.

    In Georgia, we commonly meet at a local restaurant for a quick breakfast and some socializing before heading for the trail.

    Due to the remoteness of many of the sections in Tennessee / North Carolina, folks regularly meet at the trailhead or at a landmark from which they carpool to the trailhead.

  • Who leads these work days?

    Experienced volunteers, many certified as Crew Leaders. All are certified in First Aid and have hundreds of hours of trail work under their belts. In addition, many are certified by the National Forest Service as crosscut and chainsaw sawyers.

  • If I like this kind of volunteer work how could I get trained?

    The Benton MacKaye Trail Association will assist you in all stages of your training including:  first aid, chainsaw and crosscut saw certification as well as on the “job” orientation.

  • What happens after I am certified?

    In addition to helping out on scheduled work days, you may be assigned to be the primary maintainer for a section of the trail.

  • Would I have to take this training in order to continue volunteering?

    Certainly not. There is always work clearing the trail, cleaning water bars and much more.

  • Anything else I should know?

    Yes! Safety is a priority for every crew leader. The entire crew receives a Safety Briefing at the beginning of every work day as well as a Job Hazard Analysis (what needs to be done and an advisory of any known issue(s) on the trail). In addition, you’ll need to sign a waiver of liability before you begin your day’s work.

  • What do I need to do to have my own section to maintain?

    Begin by reading these two documents.

    What Are The Requirements of a Section Maintainer? And General Responsibilities of a Section Maintainer.

    These documents answer all of your questions. After you have read them, contact the GA Maintenance Director or the TN-NCMaintDirector

  • Can I bring my dog?

    Please do not bring any pets. Because swinging tools and moving objects are in use during the work day, pets can be a significant distraction — at risk of injury to themselves and a safety hazard for others.

  • One more question. I am 60 years old and I don’t know if I can keep up with younger members.

    If you are only 60, you’ll be one of the younger members of any crew. No matter your age or trail experience, there is a job for you. Join us soon!

    Go to Volunteer, complete the Volunteer Interest Form and we’ll be in contact with you.

  • I am much more of a backyard gardener and can’t see myself doing this. Is there anything else I could do?

    Absolutely!  We need volunteers to fill various positions requiring a wide range of skill sets and expertise.  If you have an hour a week or even an hour a month, we can put you to work.

  • What kinds of skill are needed?

    Here is a list of opportunities you may find that better suits your skills and interest:

    • Lead a sponsored Hike.
    • “Reporters” for writing and submitting articles for newspapers, magazines, etc.
    • Basic computer skills to help with record keeping.
    • More advanced computer skills for maintaining databases in Microsoft Access.
    • Special event volunteers to assist in in event planning and operation.
    • Hosts for our booth at festivals.
    • Retail experience to assist with Trail Store shipping and handling and customer correspondence.
    • Graphic Design for laying out brochures and emails.
    • Website maintenance.
    • Editing and proofing.
    • Drivers for shuttling work crews.
    • Cooks for feeding our crews at the end of a work day.
    • Photography and videography to cover work trips and events.
    • Social Media for posting to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts
  • What can I expect if I volunteer?

    We know that your time and energy are extremely valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the opportunity to be able to use your skills and expertise to pursue your passions — not only to better the Benton MacKaye Trail, but also to enrich your own life. We want your volunteer experience to be both fulfilling and memorable.

    Go to Volunteer, complete the Volunteer Interest Form and we’ll be in contact with you.

  • What Are The Requirements of a Section Maintainer?

    As sections become available, Section Maintainers are appointed by the state Maintenance Director based on the following requirements:

    • To be a BMTA member in good standing.
    • To have read and absorbed the General Responsibilities for Section Maintainers and had any questions answered by the Maintenance Director or member of the relevant Maintenance Team.
    • To either have attended at least two (2) monthly work trips (during at least one of which appropriate training takes place), or to have received individual training from a member of the Maintenance Team as assigned by the appropriate Maintenance Director.
    • To have completed the Section Walk Training (SWT) with a member of the Maintenance Team. Once requirements one through three have been met, the Maintenance Director may temporarily assign a section to the individual — on a section available basis.
    • The next step is for the new maintainer to do a SWT of his / her newly assigned section with a member of the Maintenance Team. Only when the SWT is completed and the work hours reported to the Maintenance Director by the Maintenance Team member will the assignment be finalized.

    Temporary Assignments: At the discretion of the appropriate Maintenance Director, individuals who have met the first three (3) requirements above, but not yet the fourth, may be assigned a section on a temporary basis.

    Questions? In Georgia contact the GA Maintenance Director and in Tennessee contact the TN/NC Maintenance Director.

Volunteer Interest Form

If you would like to join the Benton MacKaye Trail Association click this link to be taken to MEMBERSHIP.