Acadia’s Stewardship Volunteer Crew Leaders

Volunteer Crew Leaders (VCLs) are the backbone of the Drop-In Trails and Carriage Roads Stewardship Volunteer Program.


You’ve woken up a little earlier than usual on your vacation to Acadia National Park to check out this “Stewardship Drop-In Program” a friend told you about. Free manual labor is not something you usually choose to do while on vacation, but you thought it would be an experience that would allow you to give back and learn more about this place you love.

The morning fog starts to lift as you drive down to the volunteer tool shed and meet-up spot. The first thing you see is four white government vans all lined up in a row as if they are standing for attention and ready to get out in the field. A dozen cheerful faces, adorned in blue and green “volunteer” shirts, greet you alongside a whiteboard featuring the day’s projects. After being identified as a first-time volunteer, you are handed some dense but important government paperwork.

Upon completion, a green shirted individual informs you that you get to pick which project you would like to participate in. Today, it is between clearing some leaves from the important drainage features on the carriage roads, flossing Rockefeller’s teeth (a.k.a. carriage road coping stones), building a bogwalk near the Upper Hadlock Pond, or brushing out one of Acadia’s beautiful and historic trails. All sound fun and you’re not sure what to do.

Once again, someone in a green shirt approaches you and explains the different projects to help you decide. After talking for a bit, you find out that they are a Volunteer Crew Leader, someone who has volunteered more than ten times and decided to go the extra mile and get trained to be a volunteer leader.

These Volunteer Crew Leaders are the backbone of the Drop-In Trails and Carriage Roads Stewardship Volunteer Program, a collaboration between Acadia National Park and Friends of Acadia. From driving crews to work sites, training new volunteers on how to use a tool for the job at hand, and keeping up hydration and team morale…they do it all!

Keep reading to learn more about our 13 active VCLs and find out how you can get out and do some work in the park with them or even become one yourself!


Meet our VCLs


Lee Allen

Years as a VCL: 1

Favorite Trail in Acadia: South Ridge Penobscot (views) or Beech Valley Trail (peaceful)

Favorite Project You’ve Done: I would say the Schooner Head path project. Schooner Head required the team to perform several tasks to complete a section of the trail each day. From clearing out the vegetation, hauling gravel, raking and tamping – it was a team effort.

Why are you a VCL? Great opportunity to give back to the natural resource which makes living on MDI so wonderful! In addition, this experience gives the visitors a perspective on how much work it takes to maintain Acadia’s trails/carriage roads in pristine condition.


JC Camelio

Years as a VCL: 9

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Tie – Maple Spring, Gorge Path, South Ridge Cadillac… really, all of the trails!

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Islesford Historical Museum

Why are you a VCL? Satisfaction gained through friendship, interest in nature, and giving back.


Joey & Mike Engling

Years as VCLs: 9

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Seven Bridges Carriage Road—Intersection 11 to 10 (If it MUST be a trail, I’ll take … The Gorge or Hemlock Road).

Favorite Project You’ve Done: “The next one,” also Take Pride in Acadia Day!

Why are you VCLs? It’s a way to re-invest in the park, a treasure that is often taken for granted.


Randy Ewins

Years as a VCL: 13

Favorite Trail in Acadia: The Gorge Path (spring or early summer, when the water is running).

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Jordan Pond Bogwalk

Why you are a VCL? I had been a drop-in volunteer for a few years and was asked if I would like to be a crew leader. Pretty simple story.


Peter Fleisher

Years as a VCL: 2

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Maple Spring to Sargent South Ridge and then down Grandgent.

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Bogwalk is always up there as you get tangible results, but brushing on any southern ridge hike is always a great project.

Why are you a VCL? It’s a great way to give back with other people who also have a love of Acadia.


Doug Heden

Years as a VCL: 10

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Valley Trail by Beech Mt. for the moss, ferns, rock formations, and silence.

Favorite Project You’ve Done: My favorite projects are bogwalks. They require various levels of skill for different tasks. Newcomers can work with an experienced person and build a crib or two in three hours. There is no question that the effort improves the visitors’ experience. And most importantly, one can return years later and remember the particular challenges overcome in construction.

Why are you a VCL? Typical reason is to give back to something I love. As you get older and retire from a traditional job you start to think about what you are going to leave your children and grandchildren. Your former colleagues have moved on. Your past accomplishments have been largely forgotten. Working to improve something that is permanent, like a National Park, is very satisfying.


Jim Lemmon

Years as a VCL: 3

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Beech Mountain South Ridge Loop

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Tie – Jordan Pond bogwalk & Bass Harbor Head fence

Why are you a VCL? To lead groups to maintain & improve the best National Park in the USA!


Jim Linnane

Years as a VCL: +/- 12

Favorite Trail in Acadia: It depends, but usually the one I am on at the time.

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Favorite project worked on for me would have to include volunteer projects that have been a sort of extension of the trails and carriage roads stewardship project such as shoreline clean ups and making carriage road signs and ultimately, I enjoyed almost every project that I have worked on.

Why are you a VCL? In general, the people are a great part of being a VCL. Most of the friends we made after moving to MDI were people I volunteered with. I am happy working together on a project even if it was just raking leaves on a cold and blustery day.


Mark Nadel

Years as a VCL: 2

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Beech Mountain and Beech Cliffs

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Any projects that go to a mountain summit with my crew, taking in the beauty of Acadia after a strenuous climb and leaving the trail in much better condition than when we started.

Why you are a VCL? The volunteers are wonderful and interesting people and leading them as a VCL is an honor. Working as a team, we are able to complete our assigned task and be proud of visible and tangible accomplishments that preserve, maintain, and improve the Park. The job is manageable thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of the Friends of Acadia staff.


Barb Nealon

Years as a VCL: 8

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Maple Spring Trail before the storm. I’ve spent many hours sitting on a rock in the middle of that trail with my feet in the water and a good book on a hot summer day.

Favorite Project You’ve Done: I really like the projects where I can go back and visit year after year, such as the bench Jim Linnane and I built at Great Notch or the fence at Jordan Pond. My other favorite projects are the projects where I get to work with young people from all over. The enthusiasm of the young people gives me faith in the future of stewardship in public spaces.

Why are you a VCL? Because I believe that we need to be good stewards of this planet and this program allows us to practice stewardship and make it a part of our daily lives.


David Opdyke

Years as a VCL: 7

Favorite Trail in Acadia: Jordan Pond Path

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Jordan Pond Path Bogwalk

Why you are a VCL? I like to help others have a positive experience in the park and feel proud of something they did for the park.


Ruth Yeiser

Years as a VCL: 2

Favorite Trail in Acadia: No favorite – love them all!

Favorite Project You’ve Done: Brushing Norumbega when my son was still “little” – my son and Bob Hartley (an emeritus VCL) were telling jokes the whole time.

Why you are a VCL: Since I’m lucky enough to be able to spend lots of time in Acadia, I feel it’s important to give back to the park.


NIKKI BURTIS is Friends of Acadia’s Stewardship Coordinator.

Interested in seeing if you have what it takes to be a VCL or maybe you just want to Drop-In one day and see if you like it?

We’d love to have you! The Drop-In Trails and Carriage Roads Stewardship Volunteer Program runs from the beginning of June through the end of October. Stop by around 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. We provide all of the tools, gloves, transportation, and instruction. Our meeting location has shifted due to construction at Park Headquarters. See the meeting location and all the volunteer details.

Additionally, the project schedule for the following week is put on the website every Thursday.
Hope to see you soon!