JAG: Building Futures and Trails - Appalachian Mountain Club

JAG: Building Futures and Trails

July 26, 2017

By Alex Sabido and Ryan May, AMC/NH JAG Crew Leaders

Over four weeks this summer, the Berlin, NH Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) students worked together with the Appalachian Mountain Club, reconstructing trails and accomplishing a variety of goals. JAG is a high school program that provides opportunities and job experiences for students to further their knowledge about field work. The students worked with AMC trail leaders and were involved in rock work, timber work and cutting new trails.

Berlin JAG group photo on Mt. Jasper
Day one on Mt. Jasper with the Berlin JAG crew.

The Berlin students participating in the program for the 2017 summer were, Trevor (a rising sophomore), Ryley and Jake (rising juniors), along with Christian, Seliina, and Anthony (seniors). The students and JAG Leaders Ryan May and Alex Sabido worked side by side to build a rock staircase during their first week on Mt. Jasper. The second and third week consisted of timber work, bog bridging, and rock work on the Nature trail behind the White Mountain Community College preschool. For their fourth and final week, the students worked on a new accessible trail behind the Androscoggin Ranger District Station in Gorham, NH.

Group photo on newly constructed rock steps on the Mt. Jasper hiking trail in Berlin, NH.
Rock steps completed on the Mt. Jasper Trail

The first week was spent constructing a rock staircase on Mt. Jasper that was cut entirely by previous JAG participants and is directly behind the school. The students acquired the techniques to build a new staircase with limited to no experience of trail work. These students were able to tackle and overcome new obstacles such as moving a 300-pound rock with rock bars and pick mattocks. Rock work is both physically and mentally challenging, requiring strong teamwork and communication skills. Towards the end of the first week the students were able to master the art of moving big rocks in a safe, productive, and efficient way.

Using a cross-cut saw to cut a tree for bog bridge construction.
On the WMCC Nature Trail building bog bridges with trees harvested on-site

JAG spent their second and third week working at the White Mountain Community College on the Nature Trail. The weather was cold and wet, but that didn’t discourage the students from felling two trees and processing them (this includes using a crosscut saw to section the tree, debarking and de-limbing the tree and moving the finished base logs to the work site). The trail was muddy after all the rain and the temperature was cold. Both of these conditions make for low morale, but the students didn’t shy away from getting their hands dirty; instead they embraced the difficult work site and made seven bog bridges, elevating the trail and getting it out of the mud. They proceeded to make a magnificent French drain that runs into rock water bars, helping manage the flow of water down the drain and off the tread.


Talking about tool safety before working on the trail.
Working with the WMNF Androscoggin Ranger District

JAG spent their fourth week working behind the Androscoggin Ranger District Station on the Wellness trail, a mile and a half loop designed to be handicap accessible when completed. The JAG students had the ability to cut approximately 400 feet of new trail and cover it in gravel. This was the final project the students worked on for the summer of 2017.
The Berlin JAG students pushed themselves to work hard and accomplish a lot. Watching them acquire new skills in the field has been an unbelievable experience.

Removing duff from a new section of trail.

Over the last four weeks the JAG students were successful in completing all projects presented to them by working as a team. Working on the trail has been an incredible learning experience for the students at Berlin High School. They have gained trail work skills, polished their work ethics, and learned how to work as a team to conquer any goals that they set. They have all been able to grow and thrive as individuals on the trail. It has been an excellent four weeks where friendships and confidence have been built alongside bridges, steps, and trails.

Thanks to the Berlin JAG crew for four weeks of hard work! See you next summer!

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