Bud Wills and Gwen Wills

June 24, 1942 - ___ and May 1, 1952 - ___

They say “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” That seems to be a motto for Bud and Gwen Wills, who for years have personified this idea through their work within the Pennsylvania Equine Council. Bud is the organization’s Vice President and State Trail Chair, while Gwen is the Trail Stewardship Program Director. Together, they educate land use professionals, volunteers, and government officials in the establishment, management, and protection of trails in Pennsylvania’s parks and forests. Their approach is based on the concept of shared use, not just for equestrians but for all recreationists, although their passion is in raising and riding mules.

This couple spends hundreds of hours each year offering various training opportunities, including three-day Trail Stewardship Workshops that nearly 500 people have participated in, one-day Trail Stewardship Workshops that have reached over 1,200 people, and two-day Packing Clinics for nearly 100 people. These courses cover technical details for the construction of shared use trails, and stress the importance of communication between the property owner/manager and trail users. The Wills recognized that a trail project will not be successful without joint planning and open communication.

Bud and Gwen are both Leave No Trace Master Trainers in Saddle and Pack Stock, having completed their training in 2002. They take pride in sharing their knowledge of packing out and leaving the land in the same condition as they found it. Thankfully the Wills are not shy; in fact they are quite personable and infectious in sharing their love of the outdoors with others, including conferences and events for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society, the Professional Trailbuilders Association, and the World Horse Expo, among others.

Bud and Gwen were the joint winners of the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation’s Education Award in 2012.