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EPA Administrator Honors North Carolina Leader with President’s Volunteer Service Award


EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson honored Robert Benner with the President’s Volunteer Service Award today in Boone, North Carolina. Benner planned and built 76 miles of North Carolina’s Mountain-To-Sea Trail.

“Today we honor Bob Benner for answering President Bush’s call to serve a cause greater than himself,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Dedicated volunteers like Bob are inspiring others to join them in delivering America a brighter, healthier future"

Bob Benner has been working as a volunteer on the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) for the past 35 years. MST is a 900-mile trail consisting of footpaths, roads and state bike routes. Benner is the leader of the Central Blue Ridge Task Force, which oversees the 76-mile stretch of the MST from Black Mountain Campground to Beacon Heights. At a very early stage of the MST, Benner envisioned it going through the rugged and remote Linville Gorge Wilderness. Benner and his crew of volunteers built 76 miles of the trail which has limited access and is a challenge to maintain. His task force works on maintaining the MST throughout the year.

Benner’s volunteer service is extensive and includes serving as a past member and past chairman of the North Carolina Trails Committee. He currently serves as a board member for Friends of State Parks, Foothills Land Conservancy and Friends of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail. He has served for 35 years as leader of the Central Blue Ridge Task Force.

In his January 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush called on all Americans to make a difference in their communities through volunteer service. He created USA Freedom Corps, an Office of the White House, to strengthen and expand volunteer service. Americans are responding to the President’s Call to Service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award was created at the President’s direction by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The Award is available to youth ages 14 and under who have completed 50 or more hours of volunteer service; to individuals 15 and older who have completed 100 or more hours; and to families or groups who have completed 200 or more hours. For more information about the Award, please visit

Go to or call 1-877-USA-CORPS to find an existing volunteer service opportunity in your area, or to find more information about service programs, including national service programs such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Citizen Corps. USA Freedom Corps is also highlighting youth volunteer service. Visit for games and ideas to see how America’s youth are making a difference.


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