Volunteers Help Rebuild a Culture of Community Service | Open spaces
Mark Davis Powell Tribune via Wyoming News Exchange
POWELL – For more than a quarter of a century, Bruce Fauskee has been on a mission in the wild.
By clearing the trails with the Shoshone Back Country Horsemen, Fauskee not only saw much of what makes the Absaroka mountain range unique, but he also made it easier for everyone to reach wild destinations right next to Heaven. .
But he was not alone.
Bruce first took his kids to help with the chapter quests. Bryce and Bret learned many lessons that community service has to offer from their father. Today, the eternal volunteer and patriarch has his grandchildren by his side in the hope that they will soon take over the essential work. Without recruiting “fresh blood,” many of Northwestern Wyoming’s trail systems would be nearly impassable, Fauskee said.
“They might not close, but it would be very difficult to move around.”
Carter, 11, and Cole, 14, accompanied their grandfather on several trips. “They can go, go, go all day,” Fauskee’s wife Bonnie said.
It’s not just a work detail, Bruce said. Young volunteers learn horseback riding and fall in love with the mountains like him. Intimate details about the trails, learned over decades, are also passed on to his offspring. It’s the perfect combination to make stewardship of hundreds of miles of trails a natural conclusion while safeguarding secrets that might otherwise have been lost.
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Consider the numbers: The Chapter cleared about 125 miles of trails in 2021, with an average of about 20 trees cut and cleared per mile. Through much of the range – referred to as wilderness everywhere – hand saws are required due to regulations restricting the use of motors.
One of the few statistics not kept by the club is the number of light bulbs gained on the trail. If they counted, Danika Fagan could have this year’s record. At 14, she worked with her father, Chapter member Frank Fagan, on multiple trails throughout the summer, riding 314 miles in the saddle with the crews.
Danika has passed on what most young people consider cool and instead spends her time among the peaks. Despite the few children her age, the work involved, and the lack of a cell signal for hours or days, she’s always ready to load the trailer before sunrise for some time on her Tennessee Walker, Jet.
“Love it here,” she said as she walked up Trail Creek to the top of the Lodgepole trailhead.
As the couple passed through an area of new growth after the 1988 fires, they stopped several times to clear out another dead tree. Although there were only a few to identify on this trip, the evidence for the work of the chapter is abundant. Hundreds of trees have been cut and removed from the trail here over the past three decades. “We can have up to 40 trees to cut per mile,” Frank said.
The rest of the Fagan family are also involved in the chapter. Danika’s sister, Shelby, traveled 78 miles in 2021 but discovered a passion for the healthcare industry and works almost full time while attending Powell High School.
Recruiting young members is important to the sustainability of voluntary service organizations, but it is not easy. Trying to find ways to reach new generations of volunteers is a common struggle for many organizations nationwide.
Research has shown that while over 90% of people want to volunteer, only one in four Americans actually do, reports Amy Yotopoulos of the Stanford Center on Longevity. She said there are three reasons why so few people volunteer their time for community projects. The first: the timetables and commitments are too rigid.
This is especially true for children these days and, for the most part, their parents too. Other obstacles to volunteering include lack of information about the project and not being invited to join organizations.
“The potential for increasing volunteering is high if we are able to overcome these common obstacles,” said Yotopoulos. “By reducing these barriers, we can create a new social norm of lifelong volunteering; where everyone is expected to volunteer from school age and through old age.
While many members of the Shoshone Back Country Horsemen are retired, they are actively working to educate the younger generations. They offer horseback riding and horseback riding lessons for children at annual spring events as well as adult programs. They also recruit new members at local equipment sale / exchange events organized by the organization. The next event is scheduled for March.
Chapter chair Kandy Christian said it’s also important to keep in mind that the group has a lot of fun accompanying the work.
Yotopoulos said fun is important for successful recruiting.
“Most people are motivated to volunteer through personal gratification and a rewarding experience,” she said.
With the Shoshone Back County Horseman, fun rides and the annual get-together give members time to explore the trails they maintain in a fun way.
“This is a great time to see the care and love we put into these trails,” Christian said. She also underlines that each volunteer is free to define their own level of commitment, according to their availability.
“Any help is greatly appreciated,” she said.