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How 3 Unique Volunteers Help Fuel WTA

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Jan 22, 2018 01:55 PM |
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Meet three volunteers who are helping out across the organization, and learn how they're making a difference for Washington's trails.

Although WTA is known for our on-the-ground trail work volunteers, our work wouldn't be possible without the many individuals who volunteer their time for us in other ways. Whether they're helping launch a new update of the Trailblazer app, improving our online hiking guide or authoring articles for Washington Trailsthese volunteers help our organization run as smoothly as possible.

Meet three volunteers who are helping out across the organization, and learn how they're making a difference for Washington's trails.

Caleb Parker.JPGPhoto courtesy Caleb Parker.

Caleb Parker — Composer

My name is Caleb and I am a composer who specializes in scoring for visual media (film, commercials, etc.) I studied music as a pianist at Seattle Pacific University, and earned my Master of Music in composition at the University of Idaho. I live in Moscow, Idaho, with my wife Sydney and our blue heeler/Aussie, Oakley. In our free time, we love running, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest.

1. What do you do for WTA?

I work with WTA Communications Coordinator Erik Haugen-Goodman, providing original music for informative videos that he has produced for the WTA community.

2. How did you first get involved with WTA? Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

Growing up in Washington and spending four years as an undergraduate in the Seattle area gave me many opportunities to explore the amazing wildernesses we are privileged to have in our backyards. I utilized WTA’s extensive online resources for all of my trips. I have always wanted to volunteer for a trail work party, but given my location (Idaho) and my work commitments, it’s not very feasible for me at this point in my life. Earlier this year, I decided I would give back to WTA one way I knew that I could: through music. I reached out to Erik to offer my scoring services and the rest, as they say, is history.

3. What is your favorite part of volunteering?

I get a real joy out of giving back to the community that has given so much to me. Living in Idaho has made me especially aware of the phenomenally expansive resource that is WTA. For this reason, I enjoy playing a very small part in helping the WTA thrive—the resources WTA provides to the community are priceless and I will continue to serve in whatever capacity I am able to ensure this provision.

Susanne Hsu.jpgPhoto courtesy Susanne Hsu.

Susanne Hsu — User Experience Designer

My name is Susanne Hsu, and I’m a user experience designer at Deloitte Digital. I moved up from Berkeley, California, five years ago to get my Masters in design at UW, and I actually was a pretty reluctant hiker back then. My first winter in Seattle, a friend invited me to hike Annette Lake. There was 2 to 3 feet of snow on the trail in some places and I showed up in skinny jeans, tennis shoes and carrying a red purse. Just recently I admitted that I like hiking enough to invest in some hiking boots and nano spikes. This season I've done some beautiful, snowy hikes in the North Cascades that made me grateful for proper gear.

1. What do you do for WTA? 

I’ve been helping WTA with design updates to their website, primarily the Hike Finder Map. WTA wanted to make the page mobile-friendly and easier to use, so I worked with them to figure out what that should look like. I redesigned the page to make the map more prominent and added features to help people get inspired and easily discover new hikes. We’re gradually rolling out the new map over a few releases, and I’m looking forward to getting feedback from the community on how we can continue to improve it. 

2. How did you first get involved with WTA? Why did you choose to volunteer with us? 

My co-worker, Bipin Mathew, helped create Trailblazer (the WTA app) and he asked me if I was interested in volunteering. WTA is my go-to resource for finding hikes, so I was excited to have the opportunity to give back. 

I chose to volunteer with WTA because I’m super impressed by the organization and because I receive so much benefit from the work that they do to make trails available and accessible. I didn’t know that WTA was a non-profit until I started volunteering — I had always assumed it was a state-run organization. The amount of data they have on hikes and the level of engagement from the community is amazing. I’m obsessed with the fact that I can filter hikes by trail features (I love hikes with lakes), always find up-to-date trail reports, and keep track of hikes I’ve done and want to do in My Backpack. I’m grateful for all the ways WTA enables people to get out and enjoy the amazing outdoors we have in Washington.

3. What is your favorite part of volunteering? 

The best part is the team of WTA employees and volunteers that has come together to make the new map happen—Loren, Anna, Charlie, Jesse, Mark, Evan and Sam. Everyone brings a different expertise—from development to mapping and cartography to land and trails—so I’ve learned a ton from them. Also, selfishly, I love having the opportunity to improve something that I use a lot. 

Jim Cavin.jpgPhoto by Kathy Kelleher.

Jim Cavin — Washington Trails Proofreader

My name is Jim Cavin, retired computer programmer for banks, health care and a large airplane company. I’ve lived in Seattle most of my life. The amazing Kathy and I have been married for almost 15 years. We met through hiking, we decided to get married while on a hike and we really enjoy getting out into the woods and mountains.

1. What do you do for WTA?

I proofread Washington Trails magazine. I check spelling, grammar, hike descriptions and maps.

2. How did you first get involved with WTA?

Sometime in the late ‘80s, I delivered a trip report to the new (at that time) office in the old Cobb Building. In those days magazine production was less electronic.  Pages were hung along the hall and there was a sign with a blue pencil hanging from it that said, “Don’t just stand there, proof read.” Seeing a trip report submitted by a friend, I read and corrected. In a scene reminiscent of the fence white-washing in Tom Sawyer, I asked if I could come back and do more.    

3. Why did you choose to volunteer with us? What is your favorite part of volunteering?

At the time, the magazine was mainly trip reports. In those pre-internet days, that meant I could get information for my hikes without waiting for the magazine to come out. I continued because I enjoy working around the people in the office. Now that I do this work from home, I enjoy contributing to this organization that supports my favorite outdoor activity.


Interested in volunteering with us?

The easiest way to get involved with WTA is by joining us on a volunteer work party.

However, we are also looking for folks to lend a hand in the office, at outreach events, or by using your photography and writing skills to give back to trails. Let us know if you'd like to volunteer in other waysand we'll get back to you about how you can give back to trails without lifting a shovel.