At the Annual Conference each year, the North Country Trail Association presents awards to its outstanding volunteers. This year's "Sweep" Award was presented to Deb Krieger of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter (Manistee, Mason and Lake Counties) or the North Country Trail Association.
The award is given annually to a volunteer, for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the North Country Trail or the NCTA. The name comes from the title "sweep" usually given to the person assigned to be last on a hike who should walk with the slowest hiker, pick up any dropped trash, make sure no one is left behind, and generally act in a selfless manner when they might prefer to be hiking in front with the faster segment of the group.
These criteria fit Krieger to a "T." Deb has been a consistent, but mostly behind-the-scenes powerhouse for the Spirit of the Woods Chapter since she (and husband Rich) joined in 2002.
Deb continuously protests that she doesn't want to do things that put any public focus on her, yet she manages to accomplish great things for the chapter. And she's never afraid of a challenge she can take on in private. She edited their newsletter for several years, working hard to improve her computer skills to produce it. She put together a "camp kitchen" of gear and supplies to bring hot drinks and snacks to work days. She always makes sure these amenities are available at chapter meetings.
She may not be comfortable addressing a large group, but in her quiet way she has probably brought more participants into the chapter than anyone else. Deb's networking skills are great... she will hook someone from Audubon up with someone from the chapter who is working with someone else from the Forest Service, and oh yes! There's this friend who's also working on a community theatre production who knows how to do just what we need to complete the job!
She quietly arranged for someone for our chapter to lead hikes for the Forest Festival, Manistee Women's Festival, and for the local Visitor's Bureau. She was actually the one who led quite a few of these hikes, too!
The year that she was in charge of publicity for National Trails Day the event had its largest turnout ever, 125 people!
She also inventoried the chapter library, and makes sure that it contains copies of all our meeting minutes.
She's a member of the informal "blazing team," one of those who is willing to go out and take the time to paint impeccable 2x6 inch rectangles on trees.
She may not like to be in the spotlight, but the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA would certainly be a dimmer light in the hiking world without Deb Krieger.
by Joan H. Young
See Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the North Country Trail Association
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