Reflections on leaving the Friends’ board

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Frances Ringenberg

  By Frances Ringenberg

Note: Frances Ringenberg resigned from the Friends’ board in November 2010. She lives in Middlebury and served on the board since 2005. She wrote the following reflection on her five years on the board.
Serving on the Friends of the Pumpkinvine board has been a great experience for me.  I was new to the area when I started on the board, and being on it was a great introduction to Elkhart County geographically and culturally. 
In my five years on the board, I have seen a major increase in enthusiasm for the trail in Middlebury. The public, many of whom were unfamiliar and a bit suspicious of trails, has finally seen the benefits as a result of the actual trail laid down in Middlebury.
I learned about bikers too. When I first volunteered for our annual bicycle ride, I was ready to pick up litter and make sure the ride made a good impression.  I saw families, energetic elderly, happy young people, and plump matrons, all rolling out and wondered how anyone could have reservations about the trail.  And there wasn’t as much as a gum wrapper to pick up.
One of the highlights for me has been seeing how much the renovated trestle bridge across the Little Elkhart River has added to the delights of Middlebury.  Getting funding for the tunnel under State Road 20 was another great moment, but the real Big Excitement is ahead – the first trip from Middlebury to Shipshewana on finished trail!
One thing I will always take with me from this time on the board is a great appreciation for the commitment and energy any park, trail or beautiful public space represents.  I’ve learned these resources don’t spring from the ground by themselves.  Every time I enjoy a beautiful recreation area I will know that someone made the plans and did the work to make it happen.   What a wonderful gift to healthy community and hopeful future.
A new opportunity to serve on the pastoral team at Prairie Street Mennonite Church as well as family responsibilities mean that I need to give up evening meetings, like the Friends’ board, but I look forward to continuing as a regular supporter and enthusiastic promoter of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.