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No More Selection Rounds

by Steve Mentzer last modified Jun 17, 2012 01:09 AM

Unrestricted registration opens on Wednesday 10 AM

Since the last selection round, a number of registered participants have withdrawn and we expect there will be a few more. Because of the close proximity to the event and instead of holding another selection round, we'll be making these spots available on Wednesday, June 20 10:00 AM on a first-come, first-served basis. No karma will be necessary, and the spots will remain available until sold. To claim a spot, visit the Events page at the designated time.

Trail Advisory: Bears near Creighton

by Steve Mentzer last modified May 14, 2012 10:37 PM

Recent bear sitings on the Rachel Carson Trail

Trail neighbor and Challenge participant Patrick Cupec reports the siting of two bears (mother and cub) near the Rachel Carson Trail in Creighton, and believes they're roaming the woods between Bailies Run Road and Crawford Run Road. Trail users are advised to be cautious and vigilant when hiking in the area, and to make noise to alert the bears in order to avoid startling them.

Challenge entry process is open

by Steve Mentzer last modified Mar 02, 2012 03:24 PM

Now accepting sign-ups for Full and Homestead Challenge, registration is open for Friends & Family Challenge

The new registration process is online here.

You can see your earned karma by creating an account (or logging on via Facebook, et al) here. We'll be loading our current membership roster into the new system soon, so if you're a member and your membership level isn't shown, check back later.

Our new web store is also open here where you can purchase shirts, hats, trail guides, and other items along with Conservancy memberships.

The Karma Initiative

by Steve Mentzer last modified Feb 27, 2012 01:05 AM

Encouraging support through incentives

In most volunteer organizations, a small group of individuals contribute most of the effort, relative to the number of people who benefit. The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy is no exception, and over the years we've pondered ways of encouraging more folks to get involved. We've made pleas on the web site, on ChallengeTalk, and at our annual meetings, but received little response.

In 2009 we tried an incentive approach, the Volunteers Start First program. We'd been getting requests, mainly from runners, to be able to start the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge ahead of the hikers. But the Challenge has no single start time, so this meant letting anyone who declared themselves to be a runner to cut in front of the starting queue. This didn't seem fair, and Volunteers Start First was a way to incent anyone, including fast hikers, to earn the right to start first by volunteering at least four hours. The program has been fairly successful, resulting in several dozen volunteers showing up for trail work projects since its inception.

Clearly, incentives work. But the primary constraint we faced when considering other incentive programs was managing the recordkeeping required to fairly and accurately track the activity. The VSF program was small enough it could be managed by hand with existing resources. Anything more popular, however, would need more.

We've needed a new system for registering for the Challenge in order to more equitably allocate the limited spots available. No matter what we considered, technology would need to be applied for it to be manageable. A straightforward lottery system would be the simplest, but a strictly random selection process could exclude people who've contributed significantly to the organization. Could we do better?

Introducing Karma

The term karma means action or deed, the cumulative effect of which determines your destiny. On March 1, we'll open a new web site which allows you to view and manage your contribution to the Conservancy in four distinct areas: volunteer hours, event participation, donations, and membership. You earn karma in each area, the sum total of which influences your position when allocating spots for events like the Challenge. Here's how karma is earned:

Volunteer Hours Beginning in 2012, every hour you volunteer at a Conservancy event earns you 150 karma. If you volunteer for six hours on a trail work project this spring, you'll earn 900 karma.

Event Participation For every paid Conservancy event you've participated in (including the Challenge back to the beginning), you earn 250 karma. If you participated in the Homestead Challenge twice and the UltraChallenge Relay once, you'll have 750 karma.

Donations Every dollar donated to the Conservancy since January 1, 2012 earns you 10 karma. Donate $20, earn 200 karma.

Membership Every Conservancy membership-dollar earns you 10 karma. Join or renew at the $50 level and you'll earn 500 karma.

We've done our best to clean up our data so we can accurately identify your participation in past events and current membership level. Data for past volunteer activity and donations were not available, which is why those areas begin this year.

Event participation, donations, and membership are automatically tracked and recorded by the system or a Conservancy volunteer. Volunteer hour reporting, however, is up to you. After you've volunteered at an event or project, you'll need to log on to the web site and submit your hours. Once the event supervisor or project leader approves it, you'll earn karma.

Karma has two characteristics to keep in mind. First, karma never expires. Once earned, it's yours. Second, karma can be gifted. If you've earned lots of karma and want to give it to a friend to help them get a spot in the Challenge, you can do that on the web site. Once you gift karma, it cannot be revoked. The only way to retrieve it is to have the recipient gift it back to you.

We believe the Karma Initiative is an objective way of determining the contribution an individual has made toward achieving the goals of the Conservancy. That's important because it's an essential element of the new Challenge registration system. Read about it here.

Harmony Work Day report

by Marian Crossman last modified Jan 16, 2012 04:00 PM

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fourteen adults and 10 youngsters volunteered their time to help address some drainage issues on the Harmony Trail. It was a satisfying group project. The erosion problem, caused by water diversion upstream, is corrected. Now it all flows properly into pipes established when the contractor did the fine surface in the summer. This work was in Pine Twp, on the northern half of the one-mile route. Further erosion work is needed to the south in McCandless.

RCTC president Todd Chamber’s neighbors brought their pick-up to transport stone and gravel from the supply at the Route 910 end. Everyone had a hand in the loading, unloading, or ditching. It was good to see the neighbors who use the trail most, and know they are glad to participate.

Mark Eyerman, who has mostly done work on sections of the Rachel Carson Trail, was especially pleased to see the kids and their moms there. One volunteer teaches phys. ed in Hampton. She brought her two younger daughters, plus four of their friends. They all took part in loading the truck with gravel for the repairs. They also had a great time when we showed them the stream crossing over into the Brooktree office park, where tracts are deeded for the trail connection up to their sidewalks. This Harmony/Brooktree route is used for the Annual Winter Hike that Mark leads the first Sunday in February.

It's good people had their chance to see a way to cross the brook. Ones who have ‘played in the brook’ are likely to want to be there again. It is just .6 mile from there up and over Route 19 to reach the western edge of North Park. Then a half-mile of wide trail leads up to the soccer fields. Beyond them, across McKinney Road, a mile of scout-built trails join the Braille Trail and Latodami on Brown Road.

The Winter Hike goes on from there via the North Ridge trail to the Beaver Shelter, north of the dam on Babcock Blvd. The outing totals about 6 miles.

These connections with North Park give the Harmony Trail even more value, especially for neighbors who live west of Route 19.

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