Ramapo Student Rounds Out His Studies with a Trail Internship

by Charlotte Rutherford, AmeriCorps member of the Palisades Trail Crew

Pal_HoekstraJon Hoekstra (left), a recent graduate of Ramapo College majoring in Environmental Studies and a resident of Hawthorne, NJ, has amassed more than 30 hours of volunteer service since May, building trail with the Palisades Crew in Sterling Forest State Park. We celebrate his generosity in sharing his Italian sandwiches at lunch, his prowess at picking rocks, and his dedication to building sustainable trail.

We thought we’d sit down with Jon to learn more about his summer experience with the Trail Conference.

Question: What attracted you to trail construction at the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference?

Jon: I enjoy the trails, and needed an internship to graduate. One of my professors had a connection with Peter Dolan at the Trail Conference, who was recruiting students to build trails at Ramapo Reservation. While Peter was busy setting up the trail layouts and approvals, he recommended I gain skills by working with the Palisades Crew at Sterling Forest in the meantime. It’s kind of fun to see trails in the process of being built. And to be able to maintain them and keep them clear is important because, you know, it’s important to look aesthetically natural.

Question: It sounds like you like the finished product.

Pal_RockMovingJon: Before I worked with you guys, I didn’t think that I would be capable of moving a rock that could be two tons. But with teamwork, it’s amazing what a few people can accomplish. I do like the finished product. It’s hard work, but when you look back and you see that you’ve made a beautiful trail out of a cluster of vines and branches, it’s neat.

Question: What are your future plans?

Jon: My future plans are uncertain right now. I just graduated. I would like to maintain a relationship with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference because I enjoy using the trails, so I would like to give something back. But I’d like to continue to hike and enjoy the outdoors when I can.

About Trail Walker

Since 1920, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has partnered with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of more than 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. The Trail Conference organizes volunteer service projects that keep these trails open, safe, and enjoyable for the public. We publish maps and books that guide public use of these trails. The Trail Conference is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs with a combined membership of 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.
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