Trailblazing Bat Mitzvah Aria Tackles Superior Hiking Trail 

This past summer, bat mitzvah Aria Silberglitt embarked on her trailblazing mitzvah project with the Superior Hiking Trail Association. Embodying the Jewish values of conservation and environmentalism, Aria tackled hard trail work as a volunteer. In fact, at just 12 years old, Aria was the youngest volunteer on the Superior Hiking Trail last summer.

The Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) works to protect both trails and hikers, fostering environmental and personal growth. The non-profit association leads trail maintenance efforts throughout the year, supported by Twin Cities volunteers like Aria. Last year alone, 450 volunteers contributed over 8,000 hours of work for the Superior Hiking Trail, helping with everything from office tasks to clearing plants to adopting campsites.

“The Trail would not be what it is today without the thousands of volunteers who built it and now maintain it,” said Annie Nelson, Development and Communications Director for the SHTA.

When asked about her own volunteering experience, Aria said, “My favorite part was meeting all the interesting people who do trail work, but I loved all of it, and would gladly do it again!” Aria and her family did do it again, volunteering with the Mystery Mountain Trail Renewal Project and other environmental projects in 2023.

Still, trail work isn’t all fun and games. Volunteers are tasked with clearing brush to keep the trail corridor open, cleaning out fallen trees or logs, and weeding grasses and soft-stemmed plants. Some volunteers even build and repair structures like boardwalks, steps, and bridges to keep the trail accessible. In addition to using heavy tools and digging through vegetation, Aria mentioned that early morning hours and swarms of mosquitoes were also part of the job!

“I am proud of the fact that I stuck through to the end,” Aria said. “Even though it was hard.”

Nelson also noted this satisfying aspect of trail work. The most satisfying part, she says, is being able to see what you have accomplished at the end of the day.

Now, Aria’s bat mitzvah project features her incredible environmentalism. After asking her community for donations to the Superior Hiking Trail Association, Aria has raised more than $450 for the organization. When community members like Aria donate to the SHTA, the funds go towards managing, maintaining, and renewing parts of the trail. In 2023, the SHTA reports, 82.6% of contributions to the trail went towards programming and caring for the trail. The rest went to staff, volunteer coordination, building supplies and tools, fundraising, and other efforts to protect the trail.

Aria’s project also encourages people of all ages to get involved with the environment, and she believes that you are never too young to change the world. When asked to comment on Aria’s work, Nelson noted:

“[Aria] understands already that the SHT awakens a strong conservation ethic in all of us who use and love the Trail, so by volunteering to take care of the SHT, she is also providing an opportunity for others to feel a deep connection to nature and our planet.” Nelson continued, “That Aria is starting so young means the impact of her stewardship will be exponential. We are so grateful for her generosity and service.”

Barbara Budd, Volunteer and Education Coordinator for the Superior Hiking Trail Association, further asserted the importance of young people’s involvement in ensuring future access to the trail and other environmental resources. For young Twin Cities volunteers looking to get involved with environmental conservation, the SHTA continues to accept volunteers for 2024 projects, like their one-day activities in Duluth and multi-day events further up the North Shore.

“Who knows?” Aria said. “Maybe I’ll see you on the trail.”