Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

Ice Age Trail Alliance

1000 Miles. Endless Wonder.

aka IATA   |   Cross Plains, WI   |  www.iceagetrail.org

Mission

The mission of the Ice Age Trail Alliance is to create, support and protect a thousand-mile footpath tracing Ice Age formations across Wisconsin — the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Ruling year info

1961

Executive Director & CEO

Mike Wollmer

Main address

PO Box 128 2110 Main Street

Cross Plains, WI 53528 USA

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Formerly known as

Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation

EIN

39-6076028

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Group Health Practice (Health Maintenance Organizations) (E31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

On a day-to-day basis, Ice Age Trail Alliance staff and volunteers work to build, maintain, and promote the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. More broadly, our work addresses two critical needs: (i) for people to build a good connection to the environment and (ii) for people to build good connections with each other. The first need is met primarily through people using the Ice Age Trail: learning more about the Ice Age landforms, plant and animal communities, and water resources found along the trail while walking, hiking, backpacking, and snowshoeing. Secondarily, our volunteers build a good connection to the environment as part of caring for the Ice Age Trail and the land over which it passes. The second need is met primarily through group volunteer activities, such as our local volunteer chapters and trailwide Mobile Skills Crew initiative. These activities allow our volunteers to build connections and camaraderie with others in their home communities and beyond.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance staff and volunteers work year-round to build new Ice Age Trail segments and maintain existing ones. Building new segments is typically done via the Alliance's Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) initiative. As new locations are identified for new trail construction, Alliance staff members go through a rigorous, months long process to identify the best route for the new section of trail, then work to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met. Once the planned route is established, Alliance staff schedule a trailbuilding event. Each year, the Alliance conducts around 6 MSC events at locations along the Ice Age Trail. Each project typically runs four days, and features 100+ volunteers from around Wisconsin and beyond. Volunteers are organized into crews headed up by an Alliance-certified crew leader. The crew leader starts each day with a lesson in working safely. Crews then proceed into the field, where the crew leader provides crew members with training in advanced trail construction techniques. Crews then work throughout the day, typically using only hand tools, to craft new sections of hiking trail. The new segments established through MSC projects are recognized as some of the finest examples of hand-built footpath in the nation. Volunteers maintain the Ice Age Trail primarily via activities organized through Alliance volunteers chapters. These 19 chapters, spread out across the Ice Age Trail route, are led by volunteers and supported by Alliance staff members. Volunteers work on trail maintenance as part of chapter-led trail improvement outings (group events) and/or on an individual basis as part of a chapter's "trail adopter" program.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

The Ice Age Trail is not yet complete. One step in completing the Trail, and one of our goals, is permanently protecting the land. The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a land trust accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. This means we complete land transactions and own land and conservation easements that protect the Trail. We also work with our state and federal agency partners, counties, local communities and other land trusts to protect land for the Trail. With your support, we are able to use a variety of tools to secure permanent protection for the Trail. The Alliance protects the Trail by acquiring land, conservation easements, and trail easements. When land is acquired, we (or one of our partners) become the owner of the property. On a private property that hosts the Trail, an easement allows the landowner to keep ownership while protecting the route of the Trail and, in many cases, the land surrounding it. The three land protection options above can take place as a purchase by the Alliance or as a donation or reduced-price sale. Donations and reduced-price sales are often tax deductible for the donor. There are many other options for working with landowners to protect the Trail. We accept donations of real estate that help us meet our mission. Leaving land to the Alliance as part of an estate plan is another option for landowners. Permanent protection of the Ice Age Trail also involves the responsible management of land that we own or hold easements on. We regularly manage and monitor our properties. This includes activities such as (i) building new Ice Age Trail sections, parking areas, dispersed camping areas and loop trails; (ii) managing the impacts of invasive species; (iii) monitoring properties that have easements; (iv) marking property boundaries; (v) restoring native landscapes; and (vi) keeping properties clean of litter. We’d love to have you involved. If your land is on or near the route of the Trail, we may be able to work with you to protect the property. If the land is not near the Trail, there may be an opportunity for a donation that would benefit the Ice Age Trail and generations of its users.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

The Ice Age Trail is an educational trail by nature. The glacial features and multitude of biomes created by the glaciers are natural classrooms throughout Wisconsin. The Ice Age Trail takes hikers past these environments and truly provides a lifetime of learning. We believe strongly in sharing this natural story with tomorrow’s leaders as they realize the mental and physical benefits of enjoying a stroll on the Ice Age Trail. We work with youth, schools and community groups through a variety of venues, most prominently our Saunters program and service learning. Our Saunters program aims to honor Henry David Thoreau’s statement – “It is a great art to saunter” – while infusing core educational concepts into trips on the Ice Age Trail. The program is a collaboration between the Alliance and school districts and community groups across Wisconsin dedicated to taking youth on hikes. While on these adventures, young people take part in a variety of activities connected to the Common Core and/or Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, all while sauntering up to 8 miles per day. In addition to the real-world education, Saunterers benefit from the physical activity of extensive hikes. They gain confidence and improve their physical and mental well-being. We strongly believe in providing opportunities for young people to contribute to their communities through volunteerism along the Ice Age Trail. There are many ways for youth groups to volunteer with the Alliance, whether through working with a local volunteer chapter, joining a Mobile Skills Crew event, or working with our staff to tailor an event that meets your community’s needs. Our hard-working volunteers love a helpful hand to care for the Ice Age Trail, but the service part of service learning takes a back seat to the knowledge young people gain through service work on the Trail. Academic concepts vary by the type of work being done. Examples include concepts based on prairie restoration, landscape architecture, safety, event panning and more. We tailor the objectives to meet the needs of participating groups.

Population(s) Served
K-12 (5-19 years)
General/Unspecified

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

The primary goals of the Ice Age Trail Alliance are to: - Work, in our capacity as a land trust, to secure lands upon which new segments of the Ice Age Trail can be built. The Ice Age Trail is currently about half-complete. To finish the Ice Age Trail, the Alliance works with key partners -- including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, and private landowners -- to identify and acquire property/easements. - Work to secure permanent protection for existing segments of the Ice Age Trail, many of which exist only through revocable "handshake agreements" with private landowners. - For new segments of the Ice Age Trail, conduct an extensive trail layout and design process before our volunteers begin construction. The trail layout and design process ensures all regulatory requirements are met, and yields a trail route that works in harmony with the landscape. This results in a trail that not only lasts longer and is easier to maintain, but also allows hikers to enjoy their experience because of what is under foot, rather than in spite of it. - Harness the power of volunteers to build new segments of the Ice Age Trail. Each year, hundreds of volunteers devote tens of thousands of hours to building new segments. Much of this work is via the Alliance's nationally recognized Mobile Skills Crew program, and nearly all is done without the use of power equipment. - Harness the power of volunteers to maintain existing segments of the Ice Age Trail. There are more than 600 miles of the Ice Age Trail established so far, and keeping those segments in good shape for trail users is a demanding task. Volunteers work to maintain the trail primarily through activities organized by the Alliance's many volunteer chapters spread along the trail's route. - Provide volunteers with top-notch training. Through the Alliance's Mobile Skills Crew program, Ice Age Trail Alliance University (IAT-U), and chapter-based trainings, volunteers have the opportunity to learn new skills and also challenge themselves with leadership opportunities. - Provide volunteers a fun, satisfying experience. Whether it's a small-scale chapter event on a weekend morning, or a multi-day Mobile Skills Crew event with 200+ participants, Alliance staff and volunteer leaders work to ensure that volunteer participants have a good time, are given meaningful jobs to perform, and have the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with fellow volunteers. - Provide information about the Ice Age Trail and the Ice Age Trail Alliance so that people are aware of our work and understand how to find and enjoy segments of the Ice Age Trail. We provide this information through our website, social media platforms, eNews announcements, wayfinding app for mobile devices, and suite of guidebooks.

Much of the Alliance's work is guided by a strategic plan (updated every three years). A committee comprised of Alliance board members, other volunteers, and staff guides the creation of our strategic plan. This committee conducts direct interviews and meetings with stakeholders and organizes a facilitated Strategic Planning Retreat. Workgroups representing a cross-section of the Alliance are charged with crafting strategies, goals, and action steps for each of the six specific strategic areas through which we focus our work: • Organizational Excellence: The Alliance is soundly positioned in a manner that the Board, staff, chapters, and volunteers understand their roles and responsibilities, and that ensures continuity and purpose consistent with the mission and vision of the organization. • Ensuring Financial Capacity: The Alliance has robust, diverse revenue streams to support and expand its capacity for operations, programs, endowment, capital improvements, and land acquisition. • Outreach, Engagement and Education: The Alliance strives to strengthen and expand opportunities that benefit the Trail with targeted messaging and attention to diverse audiences and imaginative partnerships. • Sustainable Trail Operations: The Alliance, by fostering quality trail design, construction, management, protection, and maintenance, ensures an excellent Trail and trail experience for current and future users. • Protecting Trail Lands: The Alliance creates a contiguous corridor of protected lands that host the Trail at a sufficient width to support its natural and cultural resources and enhance user experience. • Advocating for the Trail: The Alliance Board, staff, chapters, and volunteers are actively engaged in advocating for actions and decisions by all levels of government that will promote positive outcomes for the Ice Age Trail.

The Alliance strives to meet its goals by drawing from the following resources: - A staff of 13 working together at our headquarters building in Cross Plains, WI. - An 18-member board of directors representing various regions across the Ice Age Trail. - 20 volunteer chapters spread across the Ice Age Trail route. - Hundreds of volunteers. In 2018, the Alliance engaged 2,620 volunteers contributing 81,999 volunteer hours. Those hours are equivalent to the work of 41 full-time employees and the sixth straight year the Alliance’s volunteer effort exceeded 70,000 hours. - More than 3,000 dues-paying members who provide a foundation of support to complement funding the Alliance receives from government/corporate/foundation sources. - Key partners such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, local governments, businesses, and private landowners.

The Alliance's progress indicators include annual measures of: - Number of new miles of Ice Age Trail opened for public use and enjoyment. - Number of acres acquired/permanently protected along the route of the Ice Age Trail. - Number of school districts we have worked with and number of students we have engaged as part of our Saunters educational/service learning initiative. - Number of volunteers and the number of hours those volunteers have devoted to supporting the Ice Age Trail. - Number of dues-paying members and the amount they have donated in support of the Alliance. - Number of individuals who have participated in our Trailtessa events, engaging multi-generational women and girls in immersive day-hikes and outings. - Number of cities, towns, and villages participating in our Trail Communities program, which establishes a formal agreement of mutual support between the Ice Age Trail Alliance and communities through which the Ice Age Trail passes. - Number of people engaged via our various outreach and education efforts (outreach events, website, social media platforms, eNews announcements, wayfinding app for mobile devices, and suite of guidebooks).

The Ice Age Trail Alliance was established in 1958. Since then, Alliance supporters have worked to establish more than 650 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail's 1,200-mile route. The Alliance has worked in support of the purchase of 20,455 acres permanently protecting 128 miles of Trail in an otherwise shrinking wilderness landscape. Each year the Alliance has worked hard to tell its story, raising the profile of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to unprecedented levels. In 1979, the first person hiked the entire Ice Age Trail route. Twenty years later (1979-1998), only 10 others had joined that person. In the 20 years after that (1999-2018), 185 more had accomplished the feat. In the future, Alliance staff, volunteers, members, and partners will continually strive to: - Permanently protect lands for future and existing segments of the Ice Age Trail. - Build new segments of the Ice Age Trail that are some of the country's finest examples of hand-crafted footpath. - Support our volunteers through fun, rewarding events and opportunities to learn new skills and grow as leaders. - Grow the next generation of environmental stewards through our Saunters youth education/service learning program. - Raise awareness of the Ice Age Trail and the Ice Age Trail Alliance, attracting more and more people to our cause.

Financials

Ice Age Trail Alliance
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Ice Age Trail Alliance

Board of directors
as of 11/11/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Bob Funk

Retired businessperson

Term: 2019 - 2022

Debbie Cervenka

Maureen Skelton

Marilynn Nash

Dolly McNulty

Robert Melzer

James Mills

Nancy Schuster

Danny Tang

Carol Mueller

Matt Underwood

Timothy Yanacheck

Patty Dreier

Edward Madere

Nancy Peterson

Robert Funk

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Keywords

National Scenic Trail, Environment, Health, Wellness, Volunteer, Trail Construction, Land Protection, Education, Community