Blazing the Trail
Alum falls in love with the outdoors through volunteerism
by Lily Wolfe (’18)
Becky Hubbarth (’79) went from no experience camping to wearing out a tent in less than a year. It began in 1996, when Becky got a call from a friend who said that her company was participating in a weekend volunteer program with an organization called Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC). “You have a new car and a tent in your garage you’ve never used,” said her friend, convincing Becky to join the weekend trip. “My car isn’t good enough to drive that far, so I signed us both up.”
The following day, Becky received her water bill that, coincidentally, was accompanied by an advertisement for a VOC project at a closed Air Force base a block from her home. “I wanted to check the group out before I drove 300 miles for an organization I knew nothing about,” says Becky. The goal of that particular project was to build a park at the base, but what it did was motivate Becky to invest time and energy into VOC for the next 20 years. “I met neighbors I’d never met, planted trees, and had never been so tired in my life.”
Over the years, Becky has fixed and built trails, restored eroded riversides, and helped with fire restoration. “We want to accomplish three things on a project,” she says. “We want everyone to be safe and have fun; then if we get those two things done, we get to build a trail.”
As a volunteer, Becky has taken on more and more responsibilities with VOC. She was a crew leader, then a crew-leader instructor. She created materials for crew-leader training and became a member of the crew-leader development committee, eventually becoming chair of several committees and teaching biannual skills trainings.
Becky’s dedication did not go unnoticed: she was awarded Volunteer of the Year in 2000 after volunteering for all 12 VOC projects. “They came out with so many good projects; I couldn’t decide which to do,” she says. “So I just signed up for them all.”
In 2016, Becky was inducted into the Mt. Elbert Club, which recognizes individuals who have completed over 200 projects with VOC. She was also the first woman to do so. “For a group that’s so involved with tools, rocks, and heavy lifting, it’s kind of nice being the first woman,” says Becky.
Since the phone call from her friend 20 years ago, Becky has completed 223 projects. “Volunteering is more important now than ever because public lands’ budgets have been slashed; meanwhile more people are visiting parks,” she explains. “I believe if you’re going to use and visit parks, you need to give back.”
Volunteering doesn’t have to be manual labor: fundraising, office work, and even cooking meals for volunteers are all ways to give back. “If you’re in Colorado, look up VOC. If not, go online and search for a volunteer trail crew, because they’re everywhere,” Becky says.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.