Kim McCarrel (fourth from left) at a work party with members of the Central Oregon Chapter.
Ok, true confessions, I joined for The Book.
One of my friends told me she had heard about this trail group that put out a really great guidebook to Oregon’s trails and horse camps, but you had to join to get the book. I hesitated, because I’m not much of a joiner. But I really wanted that book, so I sent in a check and became an OET member.
I had a demanding job that required me to travel several days a week, so for years I never went to a meeting. But I kept my membership current because I wanted to support the organization’s mission, both with my annual dues and my adding my name to the membership list. After all, having a big membership list gives OET more clout with the Forest Service, State Parks, and other land managers. So I knew that even if I didn’t participate in any OET activities, I was helping to support our trails just by being a member.
In the back of my mind, I had the idea that I might like to get a little more involved with OET, once I retired. And funny thing—just before I retired, the VP Marketing position suddenly was available. I had never been to a work party, and had only been to 2 chapter meetings in my entire life, but the job was a good fit with my skills, so I volunteered. After all, it was a “desk job” kind of position, so I figured I could make a difference without having to go out and get dirty doing trail work.
As VP Marketing, I got to know many wonderful people around the state, and gained a real appreciation for how much OET does on behalf of equestrian trail riders. Because of our strong relationships with the land management agencies, we have tremendous influence on the availability of trails and campgrounds for equestrians.
But I felt kind of guilty being the VP of Marketing and never having been to an OET work party, so I vowed I would go to one work party a year. My first work party was clearing brush on a section of the Metolius-Windigo Trail. The work wasn’t nearly as hard as I had thought it would be—a bit like doing yard work at home, but with lots of great people helping out. And as we were walking back to the trailhead through the area we had cleared, I was surprised at how proud I was of what we had accomplished. I kept seeing how nice the trail now looked, and thinking, “Wow, I did that!!” It was a nice feeling.
So I started going to more work parties. I realized that because of all the budget cuts at our land management agencies, if volunteers don’t do the trail work, it won’t get done, and soon our trails will be inaccessible to horses.
Today I’m co-chair of the Central Oregon chapter. I get to work with some amazing people who are very committed to keeping our trails open. We’ve even been able to build some new trails. I go to work parties, and I’m proud of what we accomplish. As far as I’m concerned, OET is the best thing that ever happened to equestrian trail riders. OET Rocks!
Central Oregon Chapter
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