Meet PATC’s New President, Jim Tomlin

When PATC’s President unexpectedly resigned on April 20, the constitution charged the remaining elected officers of the Club with choosing a successor to finish his term. Supervisor of Trails Jim Tomlin was suggested as a seasoned contender for the post, and he accepted the nomination. During the ExCom meeting on May 30, he was confirmed as the PATC’s top officer. Jim will serve out the remainder of the current term, which runs until December, 2018.

Jim Tomlin began volunteering with PATC in the late 1970s, helping Trail Overseer Bob Moose on Robertson Mountain Trail and Corbin Hollow Trail in Central SNP. “Bob was and still is a hero to me, in that he made doing volunteer trail work fun and rewarding, while also being very productive,” Jim says. “I absolutely loved helping Bob with his trail. Any appreciation for me getting hooked on PATC should go to Bob and all of the other volunteers who bring in their friends, family, and colleagues.”

In the intervening years, Jim has been a Trail Overseer, Shelter Construction Crew member, Trail Crew member, District Manager, IT Chair, Supervisor of Membership, Supervisor of Communications, and GPS Rangers Chair. Last November he was elected Supervisor of Trails. He has volunteered from central Pennsylvania to central Virginia, D.C. to West Virginia, and everything in between.

Many in the Club have heard Jim jokingly say during heated, contentious debates: “Thank goodness we are only a trail club and not deciding matters of life and death.”

Although quick with a joke, Jim is very serious about PATC and its mission. “When you consider the immeasurable value of hiking trails for healing purposes – clearing the mind, stretching the legs, getting fresh air, thinking things over, getting through crises, discovering the wonders of nature, learning, and growing – indeed our work is more important for long-term health than any injection or pill that you could get in a hospital,” he says.

“We often lose sight of this because of having to deal with all of the day-to-day routines of what we do for PATC, but it is important that we never forget it. We could not do this work as individuals,” Jim has found. “The genius of the founders of PATC was not only in their completion of the vision of the AT, but in how they organized themselves in order to achieve that. From the outset they formed a team, each person playing an essential role. The world has changed a great deal in the last 90 years, but the essential nature of teamwork to perform our mission has not changed.

“It is a good thing that we have differing opinions and approaches,” he continues. “The strongest trail bridges are laminates where the wood grain is in many different directions. Being a team, our goal should be to always remain respectful and polite while being good listeners and learners, and processing what we have heard into actions based on consensus. This is the reason we are here – to work together to continue the essential work of the Club.”

Jim says he looks at the entire suite of current PATC maps on the walls at PATC HQ as if they are championship trophies. “Few of these trails would exist if not for PATC. There would be nowhere to go in these hills to refresh ourselves if not for our work and the work of who have gone before us. It is our role to continue that great mission, while bringing in the next generations of PATC leaders to follow us into the future.”

Jim has shared his goals as President:
  1. Find ways to fully support our current and expanding numbers of volunteers in an environment of ever-shrinking governmental budgets.
  2. Attract young people, newly-retired people, city people, country people, communities, companies, partners, and other organizations in order to make us become better known and stronger in the long term.
  3. Grow our membership base by more effective outreach activities and invitation.
  4. Make the Club an exciting and fun place to volunteer; a place where people want to become our next generation of leaders.
  5. And last and least, Jim would like to see a local microbrewery produce an IPA-TC.
The newly installed President concludes: “Our volunteer work is absolutely essential to the health and well-being of people and nature. Let us never forget this as we work together in an ever-changing society to achieve our goals.”

Read Jim's written statement to Council