Volunteer Recognition Awards

As you may already know the GDTA is a volunteer based organization that relies on the work and passion of people like you.

Every year we recognize the efforts of volunteers who go above and beyond to help us achieve our objectives. This year has been an exceptional year for us with a total of 10 successful trail building trips. This couldn’t be done without the help of dedicated volunteers like you and as a result we want to recognize the efforts of nine individuals who have contributed across all areas.

Pictured above are Lani Smith, Deb Yanchula, Dan Durston, Vikki McGuire

Pictured above are Lani Smith, Deb Yanchula, Dan Durston, Vikki McGuire

Peter Labastide: Peter was an all-star volunteer this year, participating on the first two back to back Hybrid trips and even staying over the weekend to solve some tricky trail reroute issues. He also helped out the bridge crew with some chainsaw work. During the trips he assisted in so many roles that he was defacto assistant trip leader. Back in Calgary, from loading the trailers to cleaning up and reloading, Peter was always there when needed. And finally, he capped the trail building season by leading the charge up the steepest section on our September scouting trip.

Lani Smith: Lani was our camp attendant, the glue holding all the trips together and keeping them running smoothly. Camping out on location for 7 trips, fetching and filtering water (just like last year), as well as assisting cooks, communicating with trip leaders, and keeping a watchful eye on our camps. He was there to do anything needed to keep the work moving forward. He took on a huge role relaying the History and Soul of the GDTA to many of our new volunteers. He also helped coordinate an Original member meeting where they documented much of this history for the future builders and maintainers.

Doug Borthwick: Doug started our trail building year off with a huge help, when he sold his tandem axle trailer to the GDTA at a significant discount, enabling us to solve both a storage and logistic issue. This was followed up by driving all the way to Coleman to assist with the inaugural Crowsnest Chapter meeting.  He continued the year participating on many of the trips all the way from Kelowna. He also took a leadership role on 3 of those trips ensuring they happened in a safe and successful manner. His patience and teaching ways were appreciated by many of the new volunteers and leaders too.

Vikki McGuire and Shannon Budiselic: Vikki is new to the GDTA and this was her first trail building experience. Shannon is a veteran trail builder and was joining the signature trip after just completing the walking trip on the original GDT. When the signature trip kitchen and food coordinator had to cancel last minute due to illness, Vikki and Shannon were handed the menu and told they were in charge. Both Shannon and Vikki not only worked the trail every day but stepped up in managing the kitchen and cooking the meals. Their help was instrumental in keeping 20 workers happily fed and watered. Thank you.

Kathy Plachta: Kathy is a very active volunteer with the GDTA. She manages the bookkeeping, accounts, membership renewals and is part of the Outreach Committee.  This is all in addition to taking care of Dahlia, who is just over a year old and is one of the youngest members of the GDTA!  We really appreciate Kathy’s dedication, attention to detail, creativity and her commitment to making the GDTA an even better organization.

Carol-Lynn Darch: Carol-Lynn stepped up to chair the Outreach Committee this past year and with this took the lead on introducing our first ever pub night social events and organizing the Pathfinder Newsletter.  She’s an avid backcountry hiker and took to hiking parts of the Great Divide Trail this past summer and is now planning trips for her and her 2 young children to explore the trail.  We are grateful to Carol-Lynn for taking a leadership role this past year, generating new ideas and helping to get things done.

Debbie Yanchula: We want to thank Deb Yanchula for her hard work and dedication to the GDTA on the Trail Building and Maintenance Committee, in particular for helping draft the Safety Manual and organizing food for the signature trip.  Deb was part of Food committee and she impressed us from the beginning with her incredible organizational skills and attention to detail – feeding 20 hungry volunteers for 5 days is no easy task, nor is preparing the menu and buying all that food! But Deb managed this without a hitch as though she’s been doing it for years – and it was her first time. She also spent countless hours drafting the GDTA Safety Manual needed for this year’s trail building trips. As if that wasn’t enough, she was a diligent member of the Trail Building and Maintenance Committee, and volunteered her time and manpower (and gas) on 2 trail maintenance trips.  For a volunteer who just started helping with the GDTA, Deb did an incredible amount of work in her first year – we look forward to seeing what’s to come.

Dan Durston: Dan is being recognized for his important contributions to the Great Divide Trail Hikers Community. In 2017, Dan, along with his wife Tara, were the first hikers to Yo-Yo thru-hike the GDT. In 2018, Dan decided to give back to the trail that he grew to love the previous year and he became a huge contributor to the GDT Community. Dan provided trip planning advice to dozens of prospective GDT hikers via email, social media and in person. His friendly and knowledgeable advice was welcomed by all and contributed to the success of several GDT hikers in 2018. Additionally, Dan participated in the “Original GDT Walking Trip” where he single-handedly cleared more than 100 trees off the trail. Dan shared his knowledge and love for the GDT with the other volunteers on the Walking Trip and inspired a few of them to return next year to continue section hiking the GDT. The positive impact Dan had on the GDT Community in 2018 cannot be underestimated and deserves recognition!

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