AMC John Judge, who has been on the job for a year-and-a-half, reports that he travels north to Coös County from Boston, Mass., as often as possible. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
August 14, 2013PINKHAM NOTCH — When asked whether he is aware of what a big player the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is in Coös County, its CEO John Judge of Boston, Mass., replied during a Friday afternoon interview, "Since I was asked to head up the AMC a year-and-a-half ago in January 2012, I've really focused on Coös County and the White Mountains. I come up here very regularly, and I consider Pinkham Notch to be another AMC headquarters office. AMC employees North of the Notches know my name, and I know nearly all of theirs.
"Asking how important the White Mountains are to the AMC is like asking how important Fenway Park is to the Red Sox!" Judge explained. "I'm bullish on Coös County!
"AMC is interested in helping Coös youth make a lasting connection to the outdoors and in creating a ladder for (career) advancement for its best and brightest students," he said.
AMC has 487 employees in New Hampshire, including full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers.
Of these, approximately 420 work in Coös, including at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Joe Dodge Lodge on Route 16 south of Gorham, and at the Highland Center on Route 302 in the Bretton Woods section of Carroll.
Every year some 1,400 to 1,500 Coös youth experience outdoor and conservation education because of AMC, and in 2012 some 1,100 volunteers came to Coös to work on trail maintenance, up 38 percent over the previous year.
"People come from all over the world to see and enjoy the recreation and beauty that we have here: the mountain ranges and the great Androscoggin and Connecticut River watersheds," Judge said. "Getting kids to learn, for example, how to measure water's pH and to recognize what aquatic insects and fish live in local rivers and streams is really important. When students engage in 'hands-on' learning they disconnect from their electronic devices. We're in a leadership position to help in outdoor education and recreation!"
AMC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Plymouth State University (PSU) in May that commits both nonprofit organizations to continued collaboration, designed to foster ongoing sharing of resources and expertise with the expectation that they will make a positive impact on the region's environment, economy, communities and people.
Judge anticipates opening up a dialog with the White Mountains Community College in Berlin.
He is keen to work on all aspects of engaging youth in the outdoors and is committed to continuing its ever-increasing collaboration with local school systems.
"We're looking for partnerships," Judge said.
He praised the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund for supporting the development of an internship program for recent high school graduates and other innovative programs that help students expand their understanding of the region and its environment as well as the opportunities open to them.
Working in an area reeling from the harsh effects of mill closings and economic downturn is nothing new for Judge. Immediately before filling AMC's top slot, Judge served as Chief Development Officer and Redevelopment Authority Administrator for the City of Springfield, Mass., where he oversaw projects with a collective value of hundreds of millions of dollars, setting the troubled city on a path of sustainable development, including construction of an enormous solar farm sited on an industrial brownfield.
Like the City of Berlin, Springfield has greatly benefited from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Judge grew up in Milton, Mass., and graduated from its public schools. After his father finished his stint in the Marines, he hung out his shingle as a landscape architect and designer. As a youth, Judge assisting his dad on field trips, played in the woods behind his house, and became an Eagle Scout all developed an enormous and abiding enthusiasm for the outdoors.
He earned a B.A. in economics from Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., and a Master's in Public Administration (MPA) at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Founded in 1876, the AMC is America's oldest conservation and recreation organization. With more than 100,000 members, advocates, and supporters, 16,000 volunteers and 12 regional chapters in the Northeast and beyond, the nonprofit AMC promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of the Appalachian region.
This year the Club is celebrating its 125th anniversary of its first high hut — Madison Spring Hut in the between Mounts Madison and Adams — built in 1888 by contractor-carpenter John Boothman, Sr. of Randolph.