Following John Yoder’s retirement in December 2019, Brittany Short became the second-ever board president in Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail history. In the preceding two and a half years, she guided the board through a handful of long-term board member retirements and final gap projects.
In May of this year, Brittany resigned from the board of directors to take on a full-time position at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County (see: Connecting Our County) and Phil Mason was elected board president. Phil, an avid cyclist and former Pumpkinvine board vice-president, brings a wealth of management experience, as well as co-directing the Pumpkinvine Bike Ride since 2018 and taking it over in 2022.
With a completed trail on the horizon, we can expect a board focused squarely on fundraising, amenity development and trail maintenance. We welcome Phil’s leadership in this new and exciting era for the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.
FAQs with the President
Question: “So what is the board working on?”
Answer: Finishing the trail, finishing the trail, finishing the trail. This is a common question I hear when people learn I am the new Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail board President. As a board, we are currently focused on development activities. We’re getting closer and closer to the culmination of the efforts of so many volunteers, donors, and board members over the last 33 years.
Here are some of the things we’ve done this season:
- The Pumpkinvine Bike Ride returned in June with approximately 400 riders. The weather was perfect at 75 degrees, and the new SAG locations at Krider Park in Middlebury, and at the trail’s new end point in Shipshewana were a big hit.
- In May, we celebrated the grand opening of the extension into downtown Shipshewana.
- Provided ongoing maintenance assistance to our managing agencies.
- Through donors, funded a new honorary bench and repair station installed at the County Road 35 parking lot.
- Fundraising for development and ongoing maintenance needs. Our endowment fund at the Elkhart Community Foundation will help maintain the trail for years to come.
- Opening the permanent restroom facility at Krider Gardens in Middlebury in September of 2021.
- Working on “what is next” once the trail is complete.
Question: When will the last gap be done?
Answer: We scheduled the 2023 Pumpkinvine Ride for June 17, 2023 and are hopeful that a completed trail will be available by that date.
Our goal between now and the completion of the last trail section is to keep you all updated more regularly. It may not be a long update but watch for notes as we pass significant milestones. The first update is to let everyone know the wetland delineations required by the Army Corp of Engineers have been completed and the planned trail route does not require any additional remediation. This is a significant step forward.
Question: I hear construction costs are crazy. Do you have the money to complete the trail?
Answer: We are in a good financial position but will likely need some additional funds to complete the last gap. The most recent estimate from our engineering firm was up significantly. We will know better in the coming months, when we actually obtain bids for the project.
We value your support so much. Hardly a week goes by that I am not humbled by the generosity of persons and organizations who all want to see the Pumpkinvine thrive. Fall is upon us so enjoy the cooler, shorter days and start dreaming about the summer of 2023 and a completed trail (fingers crossed). Wave if you spot a blue tandem on the ‘Vine and say hello to Cindy and I.