Interview with Bill Sunderland and Alyssa Kreider
We sat down with, long-time supporters Bill Sunderland and Alyssa Kreider, to learn more about their history with WTA and what inspired them to contribute to the Greg Ball Trail Fund.
Bill Sunderland and Alyssa Kreider have deep roots with WTA. In June, we were honored when they made a commitment to WTA of $50,000 over five years toward WTA's trail programs and the Greg Ball Trail Fund. We sat down with them to learn more about their history with WTA and what inspired them to make this generous gift.
How did you first learn about WTA?
Bill: Since moving here for graduate school, I've been an enthusiastic hiker, backpacker and climber. In 1995 I picked up a copy of Signpost at the old REI. I was looking for volunteer opportunities and saw an ad for a work party. I gave it a try and I was hooked. Later I helped build WTA's website and online tools, like the trip report system.
Alyssa: I moved to Seattle to work at WTA as part of Mennonite Voluntary Service (a program similar to AmeriCorps). I had a phone interview with Greg Ball. He was so enthusiastic and talked about how he thought I would contribute. It was a great experience and I wound up staying on as a staff member. Bill and I met when Greg Ball paired us up to carpool to a work party!
WTA turns 50 this year. What changes have you observed since you've been involved?
Bill: It's grown a lot. Greg always liked to talk about how when he started, WTA had 92 cents in the bank. Back then it was just Greg and Dan Nelson; everyone else was a volunteer. The scope of work has grown too. Greg was amazed the year we completed 4,000 hours of trail work. Would 8,000 hours be possible? It seemed out of reach. (WTA completed 144,000 hours of volunteer work in 2015.)
Alyssa: The technology has changed. For a long time we still had a phone hotline for people to sign up for work parties. Even after the website was up, we were still doing a lot of mailing and calling. It took time to adapt; we had to help some people learn how to use the new tools. Then suddenly more people were looking for information online. The average age of work party participants really dropped with web sign-ups. Younger people saw that joining a work party could be for them.
At the same time, some of the technology has not changed. We still use crosscut saws and pack horses for backcountry trail work! And those are traditions that will continue, thanks to the Wilderness Act.
What are the most critical results you expect WTA to achieve?
Bill: Maintaining access to backcountry opportunities. When roads wash out it's tempting to let them go. But people won't be compelled to protect the backcountry unless they have the opportunity to explore it.
Alyssa: Diversity and accessibility. Everyone should have the opportunity to explore Washington's wild places. It's about maintaining a wide range of hiking experiences.
What motivates you to support WTA?
Bill: Seeing the work we were part of carried on. We don't do as much backcountry exploring these days, but we do like to get out with our two boys.
Alyssa: It's rewarding to see that your fingerprints are still there. The Greg Ball Trail Fund is part of Greg's legacy—it's what he was thinking about toward the end of his life. We wanted to be part of that.
- Learn how you can support WTA by contributing to the Greg Ball Trail Fund.