What a Season! Programs Back in Full Force

A quick look at what our programs accomplished this year.

Chiara Jeanfils, Friends of Acadia Lead Summit Steward, finds an Coca-Cola glass bottle from 2002 while searching for base stones to repair Bates cairns down the North Ridge Trail of Cadillac Mountain. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)


It was a busy season in Acadia National Park. That’s no surprise, given the popularity of the park and the increasing number of visitors Acadia’s witnessed in recent years. But at Friends of Acadia, we’re celebrating the accomplishments of our programs – including the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps, Acadia Teacher Fellows, Outdoor Teach Collaborative, stewardship volunteers, Recreation Technicians, and Summit Stewards.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, we welcomed seasonal staff and volunteers back for reimagined and reinvigorated programs that contribute to Acadia’s lasting legacy. We’re talking thousands of hours of trail building and maintenance, informative visitor data gathering, education on leave no trace and public land stewardship, and growing the knowledge of teachers from Maine and around the country who’ll continue to instill an appreciation for the outdoors in their students.

Here’s a look at what these programs accomplished this season:

Nikki Burtis, Friends of Acadia stewardship coordinator, works with Tanner Burgdorf, Groundwork Bridgeport’s program lead, to widen a part of the Hadlock Ponds Trail as part of a service group stewardship crew project. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)

Volunteer Stewardship Crew

The Stewardship Volunteer Drop-in Program welcomed a host of new volunteers and dedicated long-timers this season, altogether clocking in 2,063 hours of time tending to the park’s trails and carriage roads. Led by Stewardship Coordinator Nikki Burtis and Stewardship Assistants Zoe Smiarowski and Miriam Nelson, along with Volunteer Crew Leaders, volunteers help keep the park’s trails and carriage roads in tip-top shape with hours of flossing (trimming vegetation around the carriage roads’ coping stones), brushing (clearing trail vegetation growing into the trail corridor), and trail and carriage road drainage.

Volunteer crews worked with Acadia National Park Trail Crew Supervisor Chris Barter on the Schooner Head trail, widening the tread to make it ADA compliant and creating grade dips and drainage structures to help reduce erosion and keep the trail looking sharp for years to come. And they spent a good chunk of time replacing bogwalk on the Upper Hadlock Pond trail – ripping out old bogwalk, transporting it, and installing approximately 500 feet of new double-planked bogwalk.

We can’t forget the service groups who came to Acadia from around the country to spend their time volunteering in the park. The Stewardship Crew hosted 28 groups this season, some of whom came for a few hours, and others–like Groundwork Bridgeport–who were here for a week.

Friends of Acadia Recreation Technician Lead Rebecca Stanley checks the Blue Hill Overlook traffic counter on Cadillac Mountain. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)

Recreation Technicians

Knowledge is power, and it’s particularly important when it’s related to treasured-yet-vulnerable places like Acadia. Our Recreation Technicians are tasked with collecting visitation and usage pattern data throughout the park. This detail-oriented team–Recreation Technician Lead Becca Stanley and this season’s Recreation Technicians Kendrew Van Gorder and Robbie Denegre–works with Acadia National Park Social Scientist Adam Gibson to understand visitor use data and trends.

This season they tracked traffic and trail use using counters placed in high-use areas of the park, including 19 traffic counters, seven trail counters, and one bicycle counter. In-person monitoring helped ensure the validity of those counters.

At Bass Harbor Head Light Station, they gathered visitor observations to assess the length of stay at different parts of the site and how many people there were at one time at the popular spots, like the rocky viewing area (where visitors can view the lighthouse) or on the stairs leading to that viewing area.

In the often-busy Jordan Pond north parking lot, Rec Techs measured what time the lot generally filled up, what time it cleared up, the number of cars circling the lot, the turnover rate, and the number of cars parked outside designated parking spots.

The season’s data gathering also included counting turnarounds at Cadillac Mountain (likely due to visitors not knowing they needed a reservation to drive up), rock climbing and Schoodic Trail registers, and data collection on human and dog waste (which can impact the water quality of Jordan Pond, not to mention its general nuisance to the park experience).

Dan Holbrook, Friends of Acadia Summit Steward, right, educates visitors about the importance of Bates Cairns to Acadia’s trails and history. (Photo by Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

Summit Stewards

These trail-roving educators and interpreters spend a great deal of time on Acadia’s popular summits and near well-traffic trailheads talking to visitors. A lot of visitors. Their focus is on Leave No Trace education–helping visitors understand the basic tenants (planning head, leave what you find, respect the wildlife) and thus reduce their impact on the park and its important ecosystems.

This year’s team was comprised of Summit Steward Coodinator Stephanie Ley, Lead Summit Steward Chiara Jeanfils, and Summit Stewards Andrea Knapp, Dan Holbrook, Olivia McCurry, Caitlin MacPherson, Luke Fiermonti, and Morgan Prentice

Friends of Acadia’s Summit Stewards have a big presence in the park, engaging with visitors while roving the park and with posters set up at mountains and trailheads that have high visitor impact, such as Ocean Drive, Jordan Pond, Sargent Mountain, Cadillac Mountain, Beech Mountain, and the Wonderland trail.

The result? 17,719 Leave No Trace contacts and a whopping 41,709 total visitor contacts. They also fixed 1,043 cairns, dismantled 737 rock stacks, and assisted with 10 search and rescue walkouts.

Hear more about the work of this programs in the full end-of-season presentation 2022 Seasonal Presentation

2022 Seasonal Presentation

Recaps from Stewardship Crew, Recreation Technicians, and Summit Stewards

Shelby Bentley (left), Acadia Youth Conservation Corps crew leader, and Charlie Kolisch, 17, Acadia Youth Conservation Corps member, carry an old piece of the bog walk on the Giant Slide Trail in Acadia National Park. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)

Acadia Youth Conservation Corps

The Acadia Youth Conservation Corps (AYCC) accomplished a great deal this summer—from replacing 250 feet of bogwalk on the Giant Slide Trail and collecting garbage from 100 yards of beachfront on Isle au Haut, to painting carriage road gates, clearing backdrains, and pulling invasive glossy buckthorn at Kebo Brook Trail and Great Meadow.

The program was led by AYCC Coordinator Erica Lobel and AYCC Crew Leaders Christina Stroup and Shelby Bentley. They welcomed seven participants ranging in age from 15 to 18 – Matt Egelberg, Charlie Kolisch, Eva Crikelair, Aidan Peppered, Elijah Pressman, Garrett Bohn, and Matt Grey.

The AYCC spent their first two weeks on the west ridge of Beech Mountain building 65 “checks,” which help prevent the trail from eroding. The project involved digging ditches, moving and placing logs, and crushing rocks by hand.

The Corps’ work extended well beyond trail maintenance and included working alongside the vegetation crew to replant 75 plants at Waterfall Bridge and water two revegetation sites. They cleared leaves from natural creek beds—helping to prevent flooding—at the Wild Gardens of Acadia, and collected visitor-use data on the Eagle Lake and Witch Hole carriage roads. They painted tripods and assisted Summit Stewards with visitor engagement and rebuilding of Bates cairns. In their off time, this tireless crew even helped unload trucks at the grocery store on Isle au Haut.

Read more about this year’s program: Hard-Working Corps

Acadia National Park Physical Science Technician Jake Van Gorder (left), teaches Acadia Teacher Fellows Leah Guenther (middle) and Kim Thornton (right) about what data needs to be logged while they check on the water quality at Marshall Brook. (Photo by Sam Mallon/Friends of Acadia)

Acadia Teacher Fellows

The Acadia Teacher Fellows program at Acadia National Park provides teachers with the tools to cultivate outdoor classrooms at their schools through an immersive six-week outdoor-learning experience. This summer’s program welcomed six teachers from around the country – Illinois, Arizona, Texas, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Maine. These curious educators came to Acadia and spent time exploring the park and training on outdoor learning initiatives, all coordinated by Friends of Acadia’s Conservation Projects Manager Paige Steele, in collaboration with park staff.

The program also included a wide range of learning experiences alongside knowledgeable park staff, giving the teacher fellows a behind-the-scenes look into park operations, education, trail maintenance, and more.

Read more about this year’s program: Teachers are the Students in Acadia’s Outdoor Classroom

Thanks to all the year-round staff, seasonal staff, and volunteers who make these programs happen each season, and to each of our members whose donations fund this work!