Friends of Shimek honors volunteers during dinner
Twenty-four volunteers and board members attended the Friends of Shimek Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner Jan. 11 in Mt. Pleasant.
Doug and Bonnie Moothart were recognized as the Bennett Volunteers of the Year for 2013. Doug Moothart kicked off the year in January 2013 by donating $100 toward the purchase of blaze orange safety vests for volunteers to wear on work days so they are highly visible and so trail riders know why someone is out on a four-wheeler in the timber or working with a chainsaw.
Bonnie Moothart started a Facebook group called Eastern Iowa Trail Riders, and she keeps that group, which now has more than 750 members, informed about work days and encourages trail riders to respect trail closures. She uses the social media site to help educate trail riders, recruit help on work days and solicit donations. Doug Moothart can operate any kind of equipment and donated the use of his four-wheeler, chainsaw and other tools. The Mootharts both spread rock, worked on the de-construction of the old horse shelter, and helped build new stalls inside the new horse shelter. They both assisted on three unscheduled work days to see the completion of the jobs, donating a total of 78 volunteer work hours.
The Mootharts were presented a hand-turned spalted elm bowl, hand crafted and donated by Bob Achenbach.
Trail Warrior recognized
Marsha Achenbach was nominated by the Friends of Shimek Board of Directors and selected as the Trail Warrior to be featured in the January/February issue of the magazine Trail Blazer.
Achenbach was nominated for her diligent efforts scouting the Shimek State Forest trails, keeping the Shimek state forester informed about hazards and advising the Friends of Shimek board about trail markings and maintenance. She also worked on both scheduled work days and on her riding days to: prune back multi-floral rose; clear trails with a walk-behind mower; clean firepits, tie rails and stalls; and pick up redeemable cans, recyclables and trash.
Achenbach was presented a framed collage of photos of her work at Shimek.
Forty-seven volunteers donated 841 hours in 2013 to improve the trails and campgrounds and to promote care of natural resources in Shimek. Volunteers often brought their own equipment and tools.
All volunteers donating eight hours or more received an embroidered Friends of Shimek State Forest Volunteer iron-on patch and a thank-you for their work.
Volunteers donating up to seven hours received thank-you cards showing a collage of the work done in 2013.
Lora and Ray Conrad donated the iron-on patches and cards awarded to volunteers and donors. No dollars were spent from the organization’s treasury to fund the awards, which is consistent with the promise made by the board to donors that all donations go for campground and trail improvements.
Two grants were funded and completed in 2013 benefitting the equestrian campgrounds and trails of the Lick Creek Unit of Shimek State Forest. Every grant took significant cooperation, volunteer labor and Iowa Department of Natural Resources labor.
A Pathfinders RC&D grant written by Katy Anderson resulted in $10,000 worth of road rock for 3.1 miles of the hard-surface wet-weather trail. It was funded by the William M. and Donna J. Hoaglin Foundation.
Construction of a new eight-stall, roofed horse shelter at the Lower Campground was funded with a grant from the Lee County Charitable Fund for $4,000, with another $1,500 in cash donations from Friends of Shimek for a total cost of $5,500. Volunteers and Shimek State Forest employees tore down the old shelter and built stalls in the new building with rough cut oak lumber from the Iowa Forestry Bureau.
Shimek State Forester John Byrd was recognized with a letter of commendation to the Iowa DNR director from the Friends of Shimek board for his willingness to support the equestrian community’s efforts and to act as the organization’s advisor.
To quote from the letter: “In all this effort, John has been the steady, guiding hand with the skills to work with people of all ages and interests in a way that earns their respect and appreciation and yet keeps control of what is done and assures that it is safe and useful. He has been a key part of fostering a team spirit amongst the volunteers and developing pride in our group and its role. John takes the initiative to see that we get our tasks completed.”
2014 events scheduled
The board and Byrd have planned a Shimek Education Day from 9 a.m. to noon March 22 at the Shimek State Forest headquarters building in Farmington. Attendees will learn more about forestry practices, conservation and how everyone can help assure the equestrian trails stay open and enjoyable to ride.
Work days scheduled for 2014 are: May 14, July 12, Aug. 20 and Sept. 20. Details will be posted on the Friends of Shimek Blog Calendar.
Kicking off fundraising in 2014 to raise monies for additional improved facilities was a $300 donation from Iowa Trail Rider’s Association, and $100 each from two guests at the dinner.
Donations may be sent to Friends of Shimek, Attn.: Debbie Miller, Lee County Bank and Trust, 2501 Avenue L, Fort Madison 52627.
Friends of Shimek board members and officers re-elected to serve in 2014 were: president Ann Bennett, vice president Marsha Achenbach, treasurer Debbie Miller, secretary and editor Lora Conrad, directors-at-large Neal Hartman and Ringo Covert.