Gratitude for our Trail Community

December 28th, 2023

From left to right: Annie Nelson, Development and Communications Director; Mackenzie Hogfeldt, Trail Stewardship Director; Lisa Luokkala, Executive Director; Tamer Ibrahim, Trail Operations Director; Barbara Budd, Volunteer and Education Coordinator; and Jody Nonnemacher, Store Manager. Not pictured, Tracy Olson, Administrator.

Each year our staff take a moment to reflect on the past year and share some of the many things they are grateful for. As the Executive Director, I am tasked with taking the bird’s eye view of our work at Superior Hiking Trail Association, particularly this year when we are working on our first ever Master Plan. Because of this planning for the Association and Trail’s future, I can’t help but be more grateful than ever for those who came before us, who laid the foundation of both the Association and the Trail. 

There are many people who played key roles in making the Trail a reality, but I want to point out the Association and Trail’s lifeblood: its members (you)! You advocated for the Trail’s creation, rallied around elected officials to secure state funding to build it, and have tended to its annual needs since 1986. The Association has a history of understating what it has accomplished in its short life – the creation, maintenance and protection of one of Minnesota’s greatest recreational assets!

We should all be proud of that accomplishment, because the SHTA is you! It is the Trail community that has kept the SHT alive and well, and will continue to do so into the future. The SHTA only exists to serve the Superior Hiking Trail and its users, and we are proud stewards of one of the greatest footpaths in America.

Lisa Luokkala (she/her), Executive Director

This year, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for two remarkable groups of individuals with whom I had the honor of collaborating. Firstly, a special acknowledgment goes to the dedicated technical survey volunteers who diligently cataloged the built structures along nearly the entire Trail. Additionally, I extend my gratitude to those who conducted intercept surveys of SHT users at trailheads.

Thanks to the unwavering commitment of these surveyors, we now possess a deeper understanding of the Trail and its user demographics than ever before. This invaluable information is currently playing a pivotal role in shaping our Master Plan, which will guide the trajectory of the Trail over the next decade.

As we usher in the new year, I extend warm wishes to all, and I look forward to seeing you on the Trail!

Mackenzie Hogfeldt (he/him), Trail Stewardship Director

I am grateful for SHTA volunteers! In addition to (record-breaking) time and energy, volunteers bring passion, enthusiasm, dedication, and skill to their work on the Trail. To each and every volunteer, thank you!

Barbara Budd (she/her), Volunteer and Education Coordinator

I am so grateful to the volunteers Bruce M. and Andrea S. that helped out in the Trail Store this season, as well as the many volunteers that helped at local events and festivals tabling with the SHTA – Bill D., Andrea F.M., Susan F., Steve S. and Anna S. I think they all enjoyed engaging with the SHT community. I am also grateful to the many trail users who share their stories, give trail reports, and spend dollars in the store both online and in-person. This is life-giving to SHTA in so many ways. Thank you!

 Jody Nonnemacher (she/her), Trail Store Manager

As I reflect back on 2023 and recall what a busy year full of ambitious projects it was, I am so thankful to all the people who contributed to make it possible: staff, volunteers, contractors, agency partners, and private landowners. So many people coming together to work towards the shared goal of building, renewing, and protecting the SHT!

Tamer Ibrahim (he/him), Trail Operations Director

New in the administrator role, I’m grateful for the entire SHTA team for welcoming me and helping to ensure a smooth transition for both me and the organization. I’m also thankful to be a steward of the Superior Hiking Trail, a beautiful resource that gives so much to so many. Happy trails to all in 2024!

Tracy Olson (she/her), Administrator

I am grateful to all of the Superior Hiking Trail Association’s supporters in 2023. As the Trail’s fundraiser and storyteller, the great joy of my job has been having a front-row seat to the generosity the SHT community gives the Trail each year. Every donation, membership, and gift of volunteer time is inspiring and comforting. Our supporters inspire me with their desire to take care of the Trail so that others may find the connection with nature they’ve found on the SHT. Our community’s dedication is also very comforting. I depend on this Trail too! I have no doubt that the Superior Hiking Trail will continue to be one of the most beautiful trails in the country because of its amazing supporters. And I am so grateful. Thank you!

Annie Nelson (she/her), Development and Communications Director

The future of the Superior Hiking Trail Association is bright thanks to you. Happy hiking in 2024!