Greetings, friends! We hope that this newsletter finds you well and that you were able to spend time running, walking or cycling on the ‘vine this year. The transition from autumn to winter can bring about feelings of reflection, and we’re still buzzing with excitement from completing the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. All users can now fully walk, run or ride to Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana without leaving the safety and beauty of the Pumpkinvine.
This short section of completed trail marks the end of a larger vision that took over 3 decades. It connected three towns in two counties, engaged hundreds of volunteers that spent countless hours of hard work and dedication. We look forward to a formal celebration of this milestone during the week of our annual Pumpkinvine Bike Ride, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 15, 2024.
As we move beyond this original project, we intend to ensure our trails are well maintained while also working on new trail development beyond the former railroad corridor. This will require both public and private support, but if history is any indicator, we’re up for the task. Join us as we look forward to a transformational and exciting 2024.
Phil Mason Retires From Board
The 2018 Pumpkinvine Bike Ride was Phil Mason’s first as co-Director, alongside Tim Drescher. His extensive background in business brought a fresh perspective, and increased revenue, to the Friends’ largest fundraising event of the year.
Mason took over the reins as board President in spring of 2022 and continued through construction of the trail’s final construction project this fall. Phil provided important stability and leadership for this organization over the past five years. His retirement was prompted by a move to northern Michigan with his wife, Cindy. Please join us in thanking Phil for his service to this organization and its mission.
Jared Beasley to lead Pumpkinvine board
Jared Beasley says he’s not a trail expert but an expert user.
He regularly runs on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail with friends and family. Sometimes that’s casual and conversational and other times he’s training for marathons or triathlons. He also walks the family dogs on the trail.
He loves the Pumpkinvine and looks forward to helping guide its future as the new president of the Friends of The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.
“I feel strongly about the value of a trail in a small town like this,” he said, noting that he can recall Middlebury before the trail. “The safety of being on the trail instead of the road is a big deal to me. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say trails save lives.”
After graduating from Manchester University, Jared started his career as an emergency room nurse. He has a master’s in business administration from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and has had leadership roles in healthcare organizations and is currently executive director of Community Health Clinic Inc. in Shipshewana. “I like to build organizations. I find a lot of value in that,” he said. He also loves this trail. “I spend a lot of hours on this trail.”
He sees how it’s used by the Amish community, by commuters, people seeking wellness, and by athletes who are training intensely. He also saw how advocates worked to complete the Pumpkinvine to connect communities.
“I want to see that legacy grow into more trails in Elkhart County,” he said.
The Friends of The Pumpkinvine has expertise and can help spur growth. “Combining the horsepower of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County with the name recognition of the Pumpkinvine, as well as the goodwill earned, can spark change,” he said. “The next iteration of this could be a much shorter process now that we have some expertise and even more collaboration.”
The Pumpkinvine reflects the heart and soul of those who worked on it and those who cherish it. “Few things have touched as broad a group of people as this trail,” he said.
IPRA Trails Conference
On September 28th and 29th, the Friends of the Pumpkinvine were honored to help host the 2023 Trails Gathering along with the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association, Indiana Greenway Foundation and Goshen Parks & Recreation. During this two day event, with sponsors Abonmarche, The Essenhaus, Connect In Elkhart County we were able to bring folks together from around the state.
On the first day of the two-day event, participants listened to speakers including representatives from the Indiana DNR, Mayor Gina Lichty and Jesse Sensenig, owner of Goshen Brewing Company speak on the benefits of having trails such as the Pumpkinvine.
On day two, Friends hosted a 22-mile bike ride along the Pumpkinvine starting at Abshire Park in Goshen. On the way, they stopped at the newly-opened section and Brittany Short shared briefly about the journey to completion. The group ended the first leg of their journey at the Essenhaus where they were treated to brunch. Guest speakers and former board members, John Yoder and Norm Kauffmann, spoke on Lessons Learned Building the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. A small group continued on to Shipshewana, and a return ride on the rounded out event.
Thank you to the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association and the Greenways Foundation for selecting the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail as this year’s feature. We are always excited to show off our trail, and perhaps teach and inspire others to build trails in their communities across the state. We look forward to next year’s conference in Bloomington!
Your gift can make a big difference for Elkhart County trails!
To make a general donation by check, please mail to:
Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail
P.O. Box 392
Goshen, IN, 46527
If you wish to donate to our endowment fund, where 25% of your donation will be matched by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, please make checks payable to: Community Foundation of Elkhart County and mail to the above address.
Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you on the trail in 2024!