Friday, November 9, 2012

Ozark Trail Association Steps Out

I get inspired by interesting stories of interesting people and things.  Interesting being the key word here.  Interesting meaning those stories and the people in them centered on things a little off the beaten path, a little less conventional and, perhaps, a little misunderstood.  I am that way in part.  I prefer to apply myself in areas outside of the normal sequence of popular culture.  Because it's better.  But rather than get in to a discussion on that, I wanted to share something really cool that will more than likely take front stage for me in the upcoming years.

I was introduced to the Ozark Trail Association a couple of years ago when my buddy Jim Davis aka Team Trail Monster (TTM), and his wife, endurance Mountain Bike Champion, Wendy Davis, started blasting social media stuff about their involvement.  Jim and Wendy?--nope, not your typical folks.  They subscribe to a lifestyle centered on the outdoors, active living and in my opinion, the real pleasures of the outdoor experience.  They both have been members of Team Seagal and Jim an active member of GORC (Gateway Off-road Cyclists), that amazing trail building/access advocacy  responsible for the amazing multi-use trails all over St. Louis.  Missouri has some wonderful trails and GORC has been responsible for their renaissance.

From left to right
Steve Coats, Greg Echele, Ralph Pfrermmer, Matt Atnip and Jim Davis
Wendy is a writer, and I have hired her to do a couple things here and there.  So when she told her readers on her blog  about doing a story for the Ozark Trail Connector, an annual magazine of the association, I took interest.  After reading it I became a little more interested in what has now become an obsession, The OTA!

I had heard of the trail and the association, but never embarked on what the history the mission of the organization was.  Like others I know, I took for granted that it was a state agency or something, a trail funded by the State or Department of Natural Resources and that it was simply part of the Mark Twain National Forest trail system. It hadn't occurred to me the importance of this self supported non-profit organization and Natural Resource, until now.

Last night I met with some members of the board of the OTA including Steve Coates, President, Matt Atnip, Vice President, and board member, Greg Echelle.  Jim Davis felt it necessary to set things up because, on a recent day trip to the trail, my fifth in less than two weeks, I kept asking questions about the organization.  Questions about the history and how it started, what was most significant about it, what the mission was, where it was going, what the plan was to connect other parts of Missouri.  With every answer came another question.  I had more questions than he had the patience for, so Jim set up a meeting at The Wolf Public House in Ballwin.  The Wolf, known for its allegiance to outdoor activity and advocacy for active living, is where I hang out for good food, beverage and people of the like.

So I wanted to share this with you; what seems to be a new journey in the making, with a whole new topic to pontificate about.  I am so inspired by these people and the good work that they do, I have decided to get involved and help promote that which I think is Missouri's most incredible natural resource.  I'm jumping in with both feet with these folks, the board, the volunteers, the culture of outdoors people whose lives are enriched by the mission and story of a guy named John Roth.
John Roth (1959 - 2009)
Founder Ozark Trail Association
Take the time to read the story at the link provided.  And watch this video too.  You will hear much more from me on this.  Please feel free to get involved.  The TTM and I will be hosting a handful of hikes and rides, #getchasum.

**As I come to the end of my term as Chairman of the Board of the Endangered Wolf Center, it appears obvious the need to use my skills learned there to help another eco-focused non-profit organizations meet their goals.  The Endangered Wolf Center now sits on firm ground after some very tough years. In 2010 there was the possibility that the center would close.  I was helpful in providing a style of leadership necessary to stabilize and eventually attain sustainability.  Managing the crisis and persevering through this crisis has been a lesson in life that I won't forget.  And I am thankful for my colleagues in choosing me to help provide perspective. 


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