2013 Alpine Steward Award Winner: Nancy Ritger
Nancy Ritger was awarded the 2015 Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award for her lifetime achievements in alpine education, interpretation, outreach, and conservation in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire. The award was presented by Laura Waterman and board president Charlie Jacobi November 7, 2015 at the 9th Northeast Alpine Stewardship Gathering (NEASG), hosted by Baxter State Park and the Waterman Fund at Twin Pines Cabins/Northeast Outdoor Center on Millinocket Lake, Maine—within view of Katahdin. The Waterman Fund presents this award each year to a person or organization that has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to protecting the physical and spiritual qualities of the Northeast’s mountain wilderness.
Following tradition, the Waterman Fund presented Nancy with a framed print (by New Hampshire photographer Jim Salge, jimsalge.com) of the northern view from Mount Pierce in the Southern Presidential Range, taken at sunrise on the first day of autumn. Nancy has long been familiar with the Southern Presidential Range, which looms over Crawford Notch and Nancy’s town of Hart’s Location.
Countless people of all ages have been inspired and trained by Nancy in her more than 25 years with the Appalachian Mountain Club. In her current role as Programs Manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Hut System and Cardigan Lodge, Nancy supervises the volunteer naturalist programs, and has coordinated the “Volunteer Naturalist Weekend” at Cold River Camp in Maine for 25 years. Nancy has also trained the hut naturalists since the inception of that Hut Naturalist program, patiently introducing new recruits to the alpine, subalpine, and boreal environments surrounding the eight huts and Cardigan Lodge. Walter Graff and Chris Thayer, in their nomination of Nancy, noted her patience and grace, as well as her enthusiasm for alpine tundra and alpine ecosystems.
On a personal note, I was one of the many, many hut naturalists trained by Nancy Ritger. She may be tired of hearing me say it, but I can clearly recall my first few days above treeline at Lakes of the Clouds Hut with Nancy, who introduced me to the patterns, processes, and common plants of the New England alpine tundra, setting in motion a lifelong fascination with and appreciation for this breathtaking environment. For this, I’ll always be grateful. Walter and Chris noted that one of Nancy’s program participants had called her a “national treasure;” this is far from an overstatement!
– Mike Jones