Wilderness First Responder: Spanning Generations at Hawk Mountain.

Posted on in On the Mountain by Christopher Broughton-Bossong, FF/AEMT

HM Conservation Corps backpacking through the forest

I was first introduced to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in 2015, when I was invited to come down and teach a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) program for them.  I remember being struck not only by the history of the reserve, but by the sense of community at Hawk Mountain.  It was during this course that I first met Todd Bauman, Director of Stewardship for the Sanctuary.  He was the warm, vibrant heart in the middle of a group of strangers.  He helped keep folks on task, made sure everyone got what they needed during their stay and always had a smile to share.  

In my discussions with Todd, I began to learn more of his history with the reserve, as he had grown up (as much as someone as jovial as him ever really grows up) only a short distance away.  One night, a group of student volunteers that had come through the Hawk Mountain Conservation Corps (HMCC) came back to meet Todd for an evening winter paddle that I was quite thankful to be invited to join.  During the course, his daughter came to visit for his birthday shortly before taking off to hike the Appalachian Trail.  

As an instructor, it’s not just the number of students you have or cards I pass out but rather the sense of community you’re able to facilitate within a class.  For the folks at Hawk Mountain, maintaining a sense of family and community just seems to be second nature.  So, five years later, I jumped at the chance to come back and teach another class for them.

Noah Rauch

During this course, I didn’t have Todd as a student again but did have the pleasure of meeting one of the former members of the Hawk Mountain Conservation Corps who was taking the class, Noah Rauch.  Noah was quick to introduce himself and offer to lend a hand if I needed help getting set up, situated or sorted.  During the class, he was quick with a joke and happy to join in a laugh but always ready to lend a hand to his classmates in working their way through the material.  I had the opportunity to join Noah for dinner a few times where I learned that he had grown up coming to Hawk Mountain and then joined the HMCC and spent his time working on trails and stewardship programs at the reserve.  He had recently joined the team as a full-time staff member working with Todd.  

It struck me that there is something very special about a place that has not only dedicated itself to protecting the natural beauty of the mountain and the myriad of birds that rely on it during their travels, but a place that is also so intertwined with the community surrounding it.  To hear Todd talk about growing up around Hawk Mountain and the development of the HMCC endeared me to this place.  It was inspiring to meet Noah and hear him talk about the time that he got to spend working with the HMCC, leading to his career following a path in conservation.  

In a time where we often seem to be moving farther and farther away from holding the intrinsic beauty of a natural place on the same level as we do the construction of a new road, housing development, or strip mall and to see the work at Hawk Mountain thrive and begin to span generations and create new generations of conservationists is a story that leaves me with a sense of hope for the future of conservation work as a whole.