Thanks and Farewell to 2020

January 8, 2021

“Good riddance” is the sentiment of many while reflecting back on 2020. Yet the year’s adversities unveiled the true commitment and kindness of our  board members, volunteers, staff, and supporters as they stepped up in unexpected ways to keep the Trail and the Association in good shape. 2020 showcased the strength and resiliency of the Superior Hiking Trail Association and our trail community.

Before we fully turn our focus to 2021, our staff took a moment to share their gratitude for the many good people and lessons learned throughout the past year.

This socially-distanced selfie of the SHTA staff will go in the archives to mark the strangest trail season in SHT history. (L to R: Tamer, Lisa L. Jody, Jo, Jaron, and Lisa K.)

Tamer Ibrahim, Trail Operations Director

2020 was a strange and difficult time for most of us.  I am thankful for the many dedicated volunteers that we have in our community who managed to find ways to get things done safely despite all the challenges that this year presented, and for the awesome support that people gave to the SHTA, allowing us to continue working.  We were able to oversee and accomplish many important projects on the Trail this season, as well as keep up with our general maintenance needs, as a direct result of YOUR dedication and support!  I would also like to extend gratitude towards the professional contractors and trainers that worked for us this year.  Thank you!

Lisa Luokkala, Executive Director

My daughter’s elementary school had a mantra, “have a gratitude attitude.”  During my five months with Superior Hiking Trail Association, I’ve often thought of how the organizational culture of the Association is one that exudes gratitude.  I’m not sure when or how it started, or if it is just simply the magic of the Trail, but it feels like SHTA can weather almost any storm  when volunteers, staff, partners, and supporters are armored with such positivity.  

Jody Nonnemacher, Trail Information Center Manager

I am incredibly grateful to everyone – near and far – that has adapted and supported our move to total online ordering since March.  It has benefited and encouraged SHTA in so many ways.  I also want to thank the Postal Service workers at our little post offices in Two Harbors and West Duluth who have been so accommodating, friendly, and upbeat as I schlep tub after tub of mail onto their counters each week!  Thank you all SO much! 

Jo Swanson, Trail Development Director

I’m more thankful than ever for our volunteers, who were safe and effective despite really challenging times. Thank you. We miss being able to see you all and hope for more opportunities to connect in 2021. With unprecedented use on the Trail, I want to thank all of you who enjoyed the Trail safely and respectfully. I’m hopeful that the SHT can continue to bring out the best in us all.

Jaron Cramer, Development and Communications Director

Throughout a year of big changes and complex challenges, I found myself appreciating the little things more than ever. The heartfelt notes that our supporters sent in with their gifts. The thoughtful reports that SHT users submitted to help us respond to new issues on the Trail quickly. The attention to detail that our volunteers showed in their work on our favorite footpath. (Example: Have you seen those perfectly painted new blazes on the Duluth SHT?!) In the same way that each step moves you closer to your destination, every little thing adds up to help make the Superior Hiking Trail, and our community, truly remarkable.

Lisa Knight, Administrator

After such a trying year, I am so thankful for open spaces, wild places, and all the people and organizations that make it possible for everyone to recreate outside. I know it was hard for a lot of places to accommodate the increase in visitors, but I feel so lucky to live in a place with so much wild space open to all. So thank you to the state of Minnesota, the non-profits (like SHTA!), the counties, and cities that saved all that space for us!