President with Ozark Trail Association
A chance opportunity to be part of a one-day trail construction crew on the Ozark trail back in 2007 has now become a passion. Retiring 3 years ago from the Cape Girardeau School District after 24 years as an administrative assistant, Kathie Brennan traded a desk job for the forest. From that first trail construction event, Kathie joined other volunteers and watched how the Ozark Trail Association operated as the only Non-For-Profit trail organization whose mission is to preserve, protect, promote and develop this now 401+ mile National Recreation Trail located in the southeastern section of Missouri. No stranger to physical work, Kathie became the OTA’s first female to become a USFS certified chainsaw and cross cut saw operator in the Mark Twain National Forest. As more opportunities arose, Kathie became a certified Crew Leader as well as a Crew Leader trainer receiving the USFS award as “Crew Leader of the Year” for her work during construction events being the most requested crew leader by OTA volunteers.
While serving on the OTA’s Board of Directors for 10 years, the past 2 years, Kathie has held the office of President of the Ozark Trail Association. The most challenging project to date was for the OTA to complete a 12-year trail project located within public land consisting of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, two Missouri State Parks and the LAD Foundation’s Pryor Backcountry due to the deadline of meeting the funding deadline at the end of June 2018. Finished two weeks before the deadline, this new section of trail has brought additional recreational opportunities to the area beyond the normal float season by the addition of being able to add the component of a “Hike and Float” concept.
Celebrating 42 years of marriage to her high school sweetheart, Calvin, they also are joined at OTA events by their two daughters, spouses and grandson. Kathie not only volunteers with the OTA but also with a local animal rescue and is employed as a Naturalist with Missouri’s DNR State Parks and works as a Fire Tech during prescribed burn season. Kathie is also an American Canoe Association Certified Kayak instructor, Leave No Trace trainer and a certified Wilderness First Aid Responder. For the past 7 summers, Kathie has been a regular volunteer on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Konnorock Trail Crew working from Georgia to Roanoke VA doing trail maintenance and construction on the AT.