Volunteering with MTA – A Perspective

Brian McCulloch is leaving the MTA Board. Here he shares his thoughts on his volunteer time with MTA.

My reason for doing so:
Being brought up on a farm and hence spending many hours in the outside, with an interest in the natural world, then coming to the age of retirement – how are you going to spend your time?  One naturally gravitates to an environment where you fit in.  So when Marnie and I moved to Goderich in 2011, I discovered the Maitland Trail Association (MTA).  This led to a hike or two on which one of them was led by Beth Ross whom I had met before.  She mentioned that there was a need for people to volunteer on the maintenance crew, and go talk to Roger Goddard.  This I did in 2012 and was then orientated into the ‘crew’. 

The volunteering scope I embarked on:
Roger had no hesitance in laying out the work!  After a couple of seasons doing various assignments it became evident that that there was a need to both be trained on chainsaws and further serve on the board of the MTA.  No sooner than I was confirmed on the board that the post of Trail Ranger Coordinator was suggested.  The present incumbent Barb Currie (with the help of Cole) had set the ground work and managed it extremely well, but felt it time to move on.  I inherited a well-run business, but as anyone would, I put some bells and whistles on it.  Trail Rangers carry out a vital role in our trail system.  Inspecting trail conditions, doing minor work and making up reports is their speciality.  Many of the rangers are in fact members of the maintenance crew that implement needed maintenance.   Thursday is the usual morning of work, but I found that this expanded into other days doing such things a grass cutting, tree clearing special projects, sign posting mapping reroutes etc. etc.  It would be remiss not to mention the great work that Mike Cicchini has contributed to our joint ventures in the above mentioned tasks.

Sense of achievement:
The time spent as a volunteer has been rewarding for a number of reasons:

  • Meeting a number of like-minded people that share a common purpose,
  • Getting things done while at the same time enjoying some camaraderie.  This is not always peaches and crème as quite often you work hard in a bug infested hot environment, but the good outweighs the bad,
  • Serving on the board under two extremely dedicated presidents Susanna Reid and Kathleen Lush.  Their ability to  manage discussion and steer a decision is invaluable to progress,
  • Working with board members who bring unique skills and ability to define a suitable course of action,
  • Learning more about the natural environment,

Personal highlight:
Having an engineering background it was satisfying to apply some simple mathematics to redesigning two bridges that had exceeded their natural life.  These bridges were handsomely built under the hand of Heinz Hoernig in the MTA early days.  Both of these engaged the landowners upon which the bridges rested and here again the MTA has good people that can work with the many landowners and ensure that the work meets their satisfaction. This pic shows the 1st such bridge built by the MTA volunteers.

Looking for opportunities:
To run an association such as the MTA does require a large number of volunteers – for instance we have 27 trail sections requiring 2 people per section.  The scope of opportunities is wide and no matter what your background and ability there is an opening.  It does not have to be in an official capacity, for instance tidying up some garbage, or removing branches from the trail way.  This is always necessary.  Wish to go further as you fill out your membership form there is space for you to indicate activities that may appeal to you skill set and time.

As I am rolling back, I do plan to continue with the MTA, doing work on an ad hoc basis as time and strength permits.