Five SHTA volunteers win awards

October 26, 2023

Each year, the North Country Trail Association recognizes and thanks volunteers who have given exceptional service to the NCTA and its affiliate trails. In 2019, The Superior Hiking Trail officially became an affiliate of the North Country National Scenic Trail, forming 300 miles of the 4,800-mile trail that runs from North Dakota to Vermont.

Volunteers who receive these awards have often given many years of service. Five truly amazing SHTA volunteers were honored Sept. 28th at the NCTA’s Annual Celebration in Chesterton, New York.

Steve Coz: Boots on the Trail Award

This NCTA award celebrates volunteers who regularly lead group hikes (for three years or more) that build support for the Trail. These volunteers excel at creating engaging hikes, sharing their knowledge, and being helpful to new hikers.

Steve Coz leading a Guided Hike on the SHT. Photo courtesy of Steve Coz.

Steve Coz has led more than thirty Guided Hikes for the Superior Hiking Trail Association since his first in 1997. His name appears on at least one hike each year until 2010 when he started guiding 2-5 hikes each season.

For each of these hikes, Steve completed a pre-hike, hiking the route before taking out his groups. He did additional prep work of identifying points of interest along the hike route to intrigue and educate participants, and prepared alternative plans in case of inclement weather. Steve has also been an active participant in pre-season Guided Hike planning meetings.

In addition to leading guided hikes, Steve has contributed hundreds of hours of trail maintenance on the SHT, building and adopting campsites and new trail, as well as participating in other group projects. His boot-steps are all over the Superior Hiking Trail. We would be fascinated to know how many boots Steve has gone through in his years of logging miles volunteering with the Superior Hiking Trail Association! 

– Jody Nonnemacher

Jim Shinners: Trail Maintainer Award
Jim Shinners works near the Red River on the southern end of the SHT.
Jim helps freight large quantities of building materials to summer project sites in winter.

This award honors volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements during a three-year period or more in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Trail segments.

Jim Shinners has been involved with the SHT as a section adopter and campsite adopter for many years. The dedication he has shown to performing those two volunteer jobs are enough to earn him an award alone, but in the last three years in particular, Jim has gone above and beyond the duties of an average volunteer.

Trail Operations Director Tamer Ibrahim has called on Jim for a wide variety of projects, some very specialized. Jim has worked extensively over the last two winters to help freight large quantities of building materials into remote locations using his own snowmobile. He has also taken on more responsibility clearing additional sections near the northern end of the SHT where it is sometimes difficult to find other volunteers. And he has begun to brush out sections of the Trail with his brush saw, which is much needed work that is sometimes too time consuming to effectively do by hand.

In addition to volunteering, he has also used (or let the Association use) his personal equipment, much of which would be costly for us to rent or purchase. This includes a wide variety of basic hand tools, but also scaffolding, chainsaw, brush saw, snowmobile, truck, trailer, and snow plow.

Jim is extremely dedicated, dependable and easy to work with. He is a great mentor and example to newer volunteers. We are truly fortunate to have him in our community.

– Tamer Ibrahim

Nicole Halgrimson: Sweep Award
Nicole Halgrimson. Photo by SHTA Intern Peyton Haug.

This award honors a volunteer for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the Trail for a three-year period or more. “Sweep” is trail lingo for the person who takes the last position during a group hike to ensure everyone makes it safely to their final destination.

Nicole Halgrimson has been a section and campsite adopter for more than a decade, but that’s just the start of how much she contributes to the Trail. Nicole regularly serves as thought partner, instigator, and supporter of volunteer programs with the SHTA. She has assisted in improvements in documentation and policy in the SHTA volunteer program. Currently, she is actively helping develop a program for providing meals to volunteers on multi-day projects. Nicole has a talent for seeing needs and finding ways to fill them. For example, Nicole was instrumental in SHTA acquiring a hand-washing station for volunteer events.

Beyond her work with the SHTA, Nicole brings people and organizations together. Thanks in part to Nicole, the SHTA, NCTA (Kekekabic Trail Chapter), and the Border Route Trail Association (BRTA) are working cooperatively toward a shared training of our Volunteer Crew Leaders.

To further show Nicole’s cross-organization impact, here are words from the NCTA’s Kekekabic Trail Chapter President, Eric Campbell:

Nicole is also a special leader for the Kekekabic Trail Chapter. Her passion for hiking and trails in Northeast Minnesota is reflected through her volunteer work and relationships with other Chapter leaders and members. Nicole is an active member of the Kekekabic Chapter Board, leads communication efforts with trail members, training, and also is a co-editor of the Kek guidebook and other publications. Nicole annually recruits and leads a trail clearing crew and is always looking for younger volunteers to introduce to trails and the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area. Just as important, Nicole has been instrumental in building and strengthening relationships with our bordering North Country Trail chapters and affiliates, in particular, the Superior Hiking Trail. Certainly, a significant and lasting step forward for the Kekekabic Trail and the NCT. Very pleased to have the opportunity to nominate Nicole for this award!

We are so grateful for all you do, Nicole!

– Barbara Budd and Eric Campbell

Michael Loscheider: Sweep Award
Michael Loscheider, right, at Midwest Mountaineering’s Outdoor Expo tabling with representatives from the Border Route Trail and North Country Trail Associations, Kim Fishburn, left, and Matt Davis, center.

This award honors a volunteer for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the Trail for a three-year period or more. “Sweep” is trail lingo for the person who takes the last position during a group hike to ensure everyone makes it safely to their final destination.

Michael Loscheider is one of those volunteers who’s done it all: sawyer, section adopter, Volunteer Crew Leader, mentor, sign maker, and ambassador.  Both the Trail and the Trail Community are much richer because of his involvement.

Michael began volunteering for the SHTA in 2018. After his first multi-day trail maintenance project, he became very involved in project work. With his natural leadership skills, Michael is a great fit as one of SHTA’s Volunteer Crew Leaders. He also performs a lot of critical logistic support to the Association, continues to attend training events to increase his skills and knowledge, and makes our signature routed trailhead and campsite signs that are so famous on the SHT.

It is clear that Michael contributes a lot to the Trail, but equally important are his contributions as a leader and ambassador, guiding and mentoring new and returning volunteers. He is often the first person to arrive at camp, setting up the common areas and welcoming folks with good-natured cheer. He teaches them new skills and makes them feel valued. He serves as a role model with his work ethic, care for the trail, and dedication.

In addition, Michael has been an incredible volunteer for the Kekekabic Trail Chapter.  He came to the Chapter at a critical time 5 years ago and has been a great, positive force as it strengthened its organization and trail capabilities.  His wise counsel, relationships with other trail Chapters, crew leadership skills, and hard work on the trail have made a significant and lasting difference for the Kekekabic Trail, SHT and NCT!

– Nicole Halgrimson, Eric Campbell and Tamer Ibrahim

Derek Lamparty: Communicator Award
Tracy, left, and Derek Lamparty, right, celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary in 2021 with a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. Photo courtesy of Derek Lamparty.

This award honors a volunteer for exemplary work in promoting the Trail or the NCTA through a communications medium (newsletter, website, brochure, etc.) or personal contacts during a three-year period or more.

Derek Lamparty founded and continues to manage one of the Superior Hiking Trail Association’s most active communications channels – the Superior Hiking Trail Facebook group.

Derek and his family have a long history of service with the SHTA. Tracy Lamparty, Derek’s wife, served on the SHTA’s Board of Directors from 2005-2011, and as soon as her terms were completed, Derek joined the board and served from 2011-2013. During their tenure on the board, Derek started the SHT’s Facebook group to promote the SHT, recruit volunteers and supporters, and educate trail users. He has been the lead administrator of that group for more than a decade, growing the group from a few hundred people to more than 50,000 members.

We depend on our Facebook group to share important Trail safety information and updates, and help the community stay connected with the SHTA. Moderating a social media group can be a monumental task that requires daily attention. Our Facebook page can receive up to 1,000 member join requests per week. Protecting a respectful and informative discourse requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work that Derek executes with compassion and diplomacy. He also works closely with the SHT’s Communications Director, and she depends greatly on his expertise and wisdom. Derek fosters a positive community that inspires new people to take their first adventures on the Trail every season.

Derek has helped thousands of people find a connection with nature on the Superior Hiking Trail and NCT. We are so grateful for everything he does for the Trail, but especially for his excellence as an NCTA Communicator of the Year!

Annie Nelson