Project Dates: Sept 24 - Dec 17 Project Leader: Daniel Moffatt Email: email@example.com  Phone: 208.484.3870
On this our last hitch together, we joined forces with the local volunteers of F-Troop and got a lot of work done in Torreya State Park. Named for a species of tree that exits solely in the park, the terrain here was spectacular, overlooking the Eastern and Central time zone boundary, the Apalachicola River. Here the crew experienced trail work unlike any other in Florida. There were hills! Ups and downs and elevation that made you think you were most definitely somewhere other than 'flat, sandy Florida.' The trees there were larger and more diverse as this is Florida's first State Park.
The work we were doing was a hefty reroute of a spur trail leading to four campsites along Rock Bluff. The existing trail intrudingly went right through each succeeding site. We cut new bench trail for a few thousand feet to allow more privacy to the campsites, and also provide a sustainable route to a small rock outcropping overlooking the river.
This event was special because we reached a record number of volunteers 31! and were able to efficiently keep busy and make progress on the project. Thanks to the Florida Trail Association for such a great season, we all learned so much and really enjoyed our time in Florida.
Happy belated Thanksgiving! From the Manateem.
After our extended break for the holiday, the crew drove the furthest south we had been since arriving in FL. Southeast of Tampa about 30 miles, we were in the middle of retirement village USA, where the stores and McDonalds have 'Golf Cart Only' parking spaces, and every place you go, you are surrounded by blue haired people. This is not a bad thing, just a noticeable thing.
Well, we camped in a nearby State Park Campground and worked the side loop trail on Little Manatee River. Here our volunteer site contact was Ralph Hancock, and he had three projects for us to complete. The first was a real mucky section of trail that was wet even in the dry season. Traversing this part we put in a 60 ft puncheon bridge using old telephone poles as our sills. It was nice to have a little variety and be able to put donated odd lumber to use.
The next two projects were tearing out two old and tattered bridges and then replacing them with two new bridges. The demolition and removal was the easy part as we spent much time in the set up and precision of leveling our footers. These bridges also used telephone poles for the stringers. With our experience from Apple Bridge, the crew used that knowledge and skill to construct two beautiful and sound bridges on the North side of this 6.2 mile loop. They turned out very well.
OH YES! The Manateem was delilghted to have our Program Manager Tyler Lobdell visit us all the way from the SCA Boise office in Idaho. Thanks Tyler!
60 ft of puncheon bridge
14 ft foot bridge
22 ft foot bridge with ramp
For the week of November 16-22, the Manateem took to the road and traveled to Ocala National Forest to hike and brush and clear as much trail as the days would allow. We staged at Juniper Springs Campground for the first night, then stuffed the gear, tools and food in our packs (and on our packs, wherever they would fit) and hiked south. We were on the Florida National Scenic Trail and, apart from our food drop, were going to put in as many miles as we could. The first day we ran into some overgrowth and cleared a good mile as we made it to a site about 5 miles away. The second day was when we hit the downed logs. Over forty were removed from the trail as we continued south, leaving a well kempt trail in our wake. The third and fourth day we similar and the sights were great. There was much more elevation (and I use the word lightly) in Ocala compared to where we stay in St. Marks. Hills! Someone remarked that it was the first time they'd hiked uphill in FL. True or not, it did feel great to get out and hike and work the trail simultaneously.
The day after coming home, we assisted a Boy Scout in completing his Eagle Scout project which was to build two puncheon bridges and clear a section of trail within the refuge.
Miles Brushed - 13
Log outs - 70
Apple Bridge - NFWMD 
For the dates of November 8th through the 12, the crew moved westward toward Pine Log State Forest, just North of Panama City. For the dates of November 8th through the 12, the crew moved westward toward Pine Log State Forest, just North of Panama City. Here we met Ron Peterson, local chapter representative, and two section leaders, Linda and Joe. Many of the preparations had already been made and our team was there to put those plans into action. The design was a 20 ft bridge spanning a deep ravine cut in by a tributary to Econfina Creek. There was also to be a 12 ft ramp extending the span as to address the erosion problem that was ailing the bank with the previously existing bridge. A long bridge means long stringers and large timbers. The work of getting all the material into the project site was aided by the North Florida Water Management District, on whose property the bridge was being built. With them staging the materials within a reasonable hiking distance, the crew got started hauling everything we needed to the bridge site. The bridge was completed in 2 days and that allowed us to start the restoration and reseeding of the bank. The crew had a great time camping near the bridge in backcountry fashion strapping all they needed on the backs and making the trek in. This area of the trail was very beautiful as it followed Econfina Creek for a bit.
We were grateful for all the support we received from the local volunteers and actually witnessed the first public crossing of our newly finished bride as a few hikers came by just as we were sweeping it off for a group photo. What we left with was a completed 32 ft bridge and a restored bank that will be given the chance to reseed and rebuild itself. Great work!
Puncheon Luncheon 
The week commenced close to home so that the crew could clean house! We we scouted the trail that we would work on, determining the number and location of puncheon bridges to be built as well as any and all blazing and brushing necessary prior to bridge construction. We followed through by prepping our work site; the manateem brushed approximately two miles of trail in order to prepare for our bridge construction. On Wednesday we did three days worth of work when we built six puncheon bridges at strategic locations in order to increase the ease and enjoyment of Florida's hikers. With the week's goal accomplished, we spent the rest of our time tieing up loose ends by returning to Bradwell Bay Wilderness Area. There we brushed blazed and four miles of trail in both rain and shine. Upon our return home with soggy boots and mudstained packs, the crew was exuberant with pride at the work we had accomplished.
What a week it was! The crew was lucky enough to join our Agency partner John Bauer on a scouting hike while simultaneously tapping into his Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educator status to provide each member the opportunity to become LNT Trainer certified. We filled our backpacks with gear and food and hit the trail on Tuesday. Six miles later we set up camp at a water front site on Ocean Pond. How beautiful it was! That night began the LNT training as we learned its history and the 7 Principles that guide backcountry users of our lands. They are; Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave what You Find, Minimize Campfire Impact, Respect Wildlife, and Respect Other Visitors.
The following day was a long one, 10 miles under our boots and more principles and training. This continued until Friday when all in all we hiked over 22 miles and each member was awarded the LNT Trainer Certificate after a much heated game of 'Step On It.'
The crew would like to thank John for offering the course and also the sidekicks who were already LNT Trainers, Daniel Moffatt and Jessica Kochman.
This week was truly one of the best so far and it became another shared experience in which the crew bonded and created more backcountry hiking experience and memories. We were also pleased to welcome the new FTA Assistant to Field Operations, Dawn Kopa on the hike.
For the week of the 19th, the Manateem stayed within St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge hiking and brushing and blazing trail in our own backyard. We packed the orange and blue blaze paint; we strapped on the loppers, saws, and slings, and began to hike. After three days of this routine, we scouted and brushed 11 miles of trail. Our feet were sore and our arms were spent from swinging at the large logs lying across the trail. It was a good thing we packed the Pulaski those days because everyone was able to get some experience with swinging mechanics and gain the knowledge of how much energy it takes to chop a tree in half. But there proved to be no tree too large for the Manateem, and we intend to keep it that way.
Apalachicola F-Troop 
From October 12th through the 17th, our crew was able to be a part of the Florida Trail Association's most important group, the volunteers. They call themselves F-Troop, and numerous people have been involved in building, maintaining and caring for trails around the state. Orange hardhats of the FTA met the yellow glow of our SCA crew and together the trail shone bright. The crew played the very important role of Project Support Coordinators. This meant all the food planning and preparation was done be SCA for each of the five days. Morning coffee, breakfast, lunch prep, a break in the afternoon and then starting dinner to feed the 15-20 mouths that would come off the trail ready to eat! We split the crew in half so three could go into the field and learn the F-Troop way of building an elevated boardwalk over a slough, and the other three would stay back and do project support work. It worked very well to have members get to see both sides of volunteer coordination. Each person played a vital role in making the project a success.
We were set up at Camel Lake Campground, a very beautiful and relaxing place to call home for a week. The weather was great and the lake provided a much needed and refreshing break from the mid-day sun.
I have lived in a cabin or a tent (and now Yurt) for 83% of the last two years of my life...not that bad. Most of my trail experience is via the SCA as I am coming directly from a Project Leader position in Oregon this summer maintaining wilderness trails in the Umatilla National Forest. I also completed a 10 month internship with the SCA as a part of the New Hampshire Conservation Corps where I was a part of and led crews in the beautiful White Mountain National Forest. Our crews built a rock staircase, a large turnpike, bog bridges and other structures to address drainage issues and erosion control. Prior to that I was a Trip Leader with Cheerio Adventures, leading students on adventure recreation trips including canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, caving, etc...in the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. I love working and living outside and being surrounded with people aiming to accomplish a common goal.
I participated in my first triathlon in 2009 and just finished one back home this fall, I'm officially hooked. Cycling and swimming are a favorite past time as I grew up on the shores of Lake Huron in Northeast Michigan.
With a bachelor’s degree in something totally different than outdoor recreation, I consider myself lucky to be a part of the SCA and count every day I get to work and play outside as a blessing.
Sean Ogle 
My name is Sean Ogle and I am 21 years old. I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. The adventure spirit was instilled within me from a young age. The lush Appalachian wilderness, ancient mountains, crystal clear streams and rich heritage associated with the area fostered a love for the outdoors and a subconscious knowledge of the importance of conservation. As I grew older and experienced many of the nation’s parks such as; TGSM, Yellowstone, Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Tetons, Zion, etc. and became aware of the dangers threatening the natural world, I vowed to one day contribute my efforts toward conservation. After graduating high school, I spent a summer adventure-traveling abroad across Southern Africa. The trip was inspiring and cathartic, as well as immensely eye-opening. Although the African Parks are well managed and impressively maintained, many beautiful but unregulated natural wonders have been ravaged by poverty, war, and general misuse. Upon returning to the United States, I sought to fulfill my promise to nature. I eventually became aware of the SCA, and quickly applied to do my part for the environment. I was selected for the Florida Trail Corps, where I am currently serving my first (and hopefully not last) term as a member of the Student Conservation Association.
Alex 'Drewsie' Drew 
My name may be Alex, but around here I’m known as Drewsie. Instead of following the rest of my peers on a direct path from graduation to freshman orientation, I’m taking a gap year to seize the world. Why not take this opportunity to adventure? I have had lots of backpacking and camping experience in New England, so I chose Florida’s sub-tropical climate to step outside of my comfort zone. When I’m not in the backcountry I can be found sautéing tofu while country music hums in the background before heading out on a hometown adventure.
Jessica Kochman 
I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio by my mom and dad and with my older sister. Growing up I had always loved the outdoors. Some of my fondest memories were my summers at Camp Fitch. In 2009 I received an Associate degree in Ecotourism and Adventure Travel at Hocking College in Ohio. Currently I am pursuing a Bachelor degree in Outdoor Recreation and Education at Ohio University. Through my studies I have been fortunate to have many experiences in the outdoors, such as studying abroad in the Bahamas and working with the SCA. In the future I hope I have a career because I love working the great outdoors.
We put the "choppy" in Sopchoppy. For our first time out in the field, the Manateem, (our very approprite team name) lopped and chopped our way through the Apalachicola National Forest just outside of the small town of Sopchoppy, FL. Machetes, a Cane Knife, loppers, basically any blade we could get our gloved hands on were used to tear through the heavily overgrown section of the Florida National Scenic Trail. The weather was nice and we spent one night out in the wilderness that houses some very large swamps. Along with the trail corridor being cut in, we used the Florida Orange trail blaze paint to revamp the visual markers to assits the brave souls who would hike this section of trail.
It was only a four day hitch, but the Manateem quickly became solidified in their shared experiences having a lot of fun and getting some very much need work done.
Corridor brushed - 2 miles
Down trees removed - 6
Trail blazed - 1.5 miles
Yurt Sweet Yurt 
The crew's first project together was to build a 30'X 30' freestanding deck upon which to erect a yurt. A yurt, as defined by dictionary.com is:
a tentlike dwelling of the Mongol and Turkic peoples of central Asia, consisting of a cylindrical wall of poles in a lattice arrangement with a conical roof of poles, both covered by felt or skins.
In this case, it was a kit with a canvas material for the roof and walls. The deck proved to be the most challenging, squaring, leveling and piecing together. Once the foundation was built, we erected the yurt no sweat (figuratively seeing how it's Florida).
The structure will provide additional housing and a meeting place for the compound. This was a great success as the crew learned many new carpentry skills and the necessary teamwork that will carry them through this season.
Florida Trails 
The partnership between the Florida Trail Association and the Student Conservation Association has been flourishing for almost a decade. It is a marriage that connects people from all over the country with the very active local volunteers. Generations collide for a wonderful experience of trailwork, conservation and fun!
The crew is provided housing on land within the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge when not on hitch. Located just a few miles from the Gulf coast, the landscape is very flat, sandy soil with plush vegetation and a variety of wildlife.
The main objective for this season is accessibility. The crew will be focusing on blazing new and old trail, clearing corridor, and putting up signs that will allow users to find and learn about the Florida Trail. They will also get to travel and see plenty of the state building puncheon bridges, boardwalks, and cutting in new trail.
HISTORY OF THE FLORIDA TRAIL
In 1966 Jim Kern, a real estate broker and hiking enthusiast, became fed up with “driving all the way to North Carolina to hike the wilderness” simply because there were no hiking trails in Florida. To dramatize the lack of footpaths in the state, Kern started on a walk that took him from 40 Mile Bend on the Tamiami Trail to Highlands Hammock State Park near Sebring. It took Kern 12 days to complete the 160-mile trek.
“I felt very strongly that Florida was missing out not having any footpaths,” Kern said. “The Forest Service thought it was all a joke. They told me ‘go ahead and do your thing. But, no one will want to hike in Florida.” Little did they know! The publicity from Kern’s hike brought responses from hikers all over the state. By 1966, these original respondents formed the nucleus of what is now the Florida Trail Association, with an original goal of building 500 miles of continuous hiking trail. The first segment, a 26-mile stretch through the Ocala National Forest, was completed by 1969. The Association raised its goal to 600 miles, then 700 miles, and finally 1,000 miles. Today, plans call for more than 1,800 miles of hiking trails with various loops and spurs from Big Cypress National Preserve in South Florida to the Gulf Islands National Seashore at Pensacola Beach. So far, more than 1,000 miles of the continuous trail have been completed, as well as more than 365 miles of loop trails in state parks, state forests, and other public lands close to urban areas. Land acquisition continues for the Florida Trail, with a goal of protecting a wilderness corridor the length of Florida.
The efforts of the Florida Trail Association volunteers attracted interest from United States Department of the Interior. Their three-year study of the trail, completed in 1980, resulted in the enthusiastic endorsement of the Florida Trail to become one of eight National Scenic Trails in the United States. When Congress approved the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST), Congress designated the USDA Forest Service as the administrative agency for the trail.
Florida Trail Association members started from scratch when building their trails. Often, there were no old paths to follow. Members donated equipment and weekends and went to battle, machetes and loppers in hand, carving a narrow footpath through the dense, backwoods of the peninsula. In more temperate climates, one can cut a trail and give scant thought to maintenance. But in Florida, a trail demands constant upkeep. Florida’s annual rainfall averages from 50 to 65 inches, causing the vegetation to grow at astounding rates, making maintenance a challenge. That’s why members are perpetually out in the woods clearing trail, painting orange blazes, building boardwalks and bridges, and doing whatever is necessary to keep the trails open to hikers and backpackers. In a single year, the Florida Trail Association may document more than 60,000 hours of volunteer labor keeping “Florida’s Footpath Forever” open.
What was once considered a far-fetched dream is now reality: following the orange blazes, you can walk the length of Florida from Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island. A spur trail connects the Florida Trail with another long-distance trail under construction in Alabama, which will connect to the Appalachian Trail. Long distance hikers have already walked 4,000 miles and more from Key West to Quebec, utilizing the Florida Trail as part of their journey. But most hikers look to the Florida Trail as a place for a pleasant walk in the woods, a way to keep healthy through frequent exercise, and a place to experience the Real Florida on foot. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers for more than 35 years, the Florida Trail is now one of the nation’s premiere recreational resources and a popular destination for visitors to Florida seeking outdoor recreation during the winter months.
source: www.floridatrails.org 
Eileen 'Munsch' Munsch 
Salutations! I was born in Queens & grew up on L.I., NY. For 17 years I learned to survive the suburban jungle and enjoyed surfing, performing in local theater productions, and volunteering with my parish youth ministry. I moved to Western NY in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region, to study at a small public liberal arts college. After four years of skipping class to hike and camp in local parks, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders and Sciences (a degree I don’t intend to pursue). Upon graduation in May 2010 I realized that I wanted a job that I enjoyed, something outdoors-based in which I use my physical and mental strength to protect and maintain what I love most, parks. I found this passion through employment as a river guide in NY’s Letchworth State Park. It is this love that lead me to the SCA; I am honored to be a Conservation Corps Crew member and ecstatic to contribute to the Florida Trail. After this, I’m moving to Maryland to serve in Americorps’ NCCC program for ten months. In the future I hope to work for the NPS or maybe pursue a graduate degree, something to do with environmental science. (TBD)