Volunteers are the backbone of the LHT — clearing trails, installing signage, stenciling paved areas, and keeping an eye out for the many maintenance issues that our heavily-travelled trails need addressed. We owe a lot to these folks, and we wanted to share their LHT stories. If you want to join one of our volunteer teams, shoot us an email — we’d love to have you!

Meet Thomas Cetkowski, Jr. – network engineer at the New Jersey Legislature, trail-lover, dad of two, and one of the LHT’s star volunteers.

LHT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thomas: I live in Titusville right near the canal and tow path. Often, especially in the summer months, I use it to commute to Trenton where I work for the New Jersey Legislature as a network engineer. I share my home with my wife Gianna and my two daughters, Sofia and Celina.

LHT: How long have you been volunteering on the LHT? What inspired you to lend a hand?
Thomas: I signed up to the LHT newsletter quite a few years ago and read about a meeting that was going to take place where volunteers were needed. If I’m not mistaken, this was when the trail maintenance team was first created in its present form. I have spent decades riding in public parks and have seen what happens when they get neglected. I was excited about the growth of LHT and wanted to help make sure this didn’t happen there.

LHT Voluntter Thomas Cetkowski, Jr.

Courtesy of Thomas Cetkowski, Jr.

LHT Voluntter Thomas Cetkowski, Jr.

Courtesy of Thomas Cetkowski, Jr.

LHT: What kinds of projects have you worked on?
Thomas: I have installed signs with one of my helpers, my first daughter, Sofia. I’ve trimmed overhanging branches and reported problems that I couldn’t handle with my clippers. Cutting back low overgrowth encroaching on the trail was an interesting task. Kurt Vollherbst supplied a monster truck type of push mower that cut everything in its path. I didn’t know these things existed!

LHT: Do you do work on other trails or in other parks? Where and what type of work?
Thomas: The LHT is the only trail that I volunteer for.

LHT: How did you discover the LHT? What are your favorite segments?
Thomas: My family is the active vacation type, so over the years, we’ve seen our share of hiking and biking trails. My favorite ones go for miles and connect different places of interest and services, especially intertown connections and hidden eateries. The LHT reminds me of that concept, and I was hooked when I first heard of it. Despite the moans and groans from the two little ones, we are always exploring all of the little nature preserves and parks throughout the Sourlands and beyond. At some point we came across a flyer for LHT, I believe at the Watershed’s Butterfly Festival. There are little surprises in every segment, but my favorite segment has to be the Province Line Road bridge. It’s an interesting little spot there and I love water.

LHT: Do you have advice for other folks who have thought about getting involved with the LHT?
Thomas: Everyone is really nice and laid back — my advice is to help any way you can!