Gina’s passion for youth and non-profit work started when she developed an after school program for Cambodian and African American youth at a housing project in Los Angeles, California, in the early ‘90s. She later joined the Smithsonian Institution in 1999 where she spent the next 16 years working on exhibitions, public programs, and educational programs for young people. After leaving the Smithsonian, she joined the Asian American LEAD for a year to help with their fundraising efforts. Gina received her M.A. in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Gina and her family (husband Joe and daughter Sagada) are also avid mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Realizing that the need was there for kids to be introduced to the surrounding trail system in PG County, Ken joined TYO as an original Board Member waaaay back in 2003. He has helped to guide the organization for years. As a Master Bicycle Technician at REI, Ken has invaluable experience with the bikes and helps maintain the ever growing fleet of bicycles. However, it’s his calm manner and thousands of hours of dedicated commitment to the kids that makes Ken one of TYO’s highest valued Ride Leaders.
Gary Bangs has been actively involved with children and youth issues for over 40 years. Starting his career in law enforcement he was appointed as the Butler County (Iowa) representative on a regional substance abuse committee and made numerous school presentations deterring drug abuse. While completing his B.A. in sociology from the University of Northern Iowa he volunteered and was named Big Brother of the year for the Black Hawk County Big Brother chapter. He worked several years as a residential counselor for neglected and abused boys (aged 11-17) at Jerry Rabiner’s Boy Ranch (Ft. Dodge, IA). Then in 1987 he became an investigator with a Federal government law enforcement agency where he worked for 28 years before his retirement Feb. 2015. During that time he received his M.A. in sociology from Cleveland State University. While working for the government in the Washington DC area he volunteered as a mentor with Asian American LEAD, a youth group helping Vietnamese children with school and learning English. Mr. Bangs has been active with school parent-teacher associations in Springfield, VA where he became familiar with the Trails for Youth organization. He also is a volunteer officer/director with the Springfield Swim and Racquet Club, a nonprofit association providing recreational opportunities to neighborhood citizens with an emphasis on teaching children how to swim. He and his wife (Maribel) lives in Springfield with their two school-aged children, both who have been involved in Trails for Youth activities.
Pat Childers is a Senior Advisor in the United States EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, where he oversees a Federal Advisory Committee on air quality issues and is a children’s health representative on air quality issues. Prior to this position, Mr. Childers worked in the Agencies Office of Transportation and Air Quality for 20 years on a myriad of mobile source issues including clean vehicles, fuels and bicycling issues. Mr. Childers is also co-founder (with his wife Julie) of TrailsforYouth.Org. A Northern Virginia based children’s health organization that uses bicycles to teach children life lessons on the importance of physical activity, nutrition and environmental awareness. Since its inception TYO has worked with nearly 10,000 youth and has twice been recognized as one of “the best small charities in Greater Washington” by the Catalog for Philanthropy. Mr Childers is a bike commuter, mt biker, and proud father of two boys, both who are safe cyclists!
Kristi is originally from Los Angeles, California, and has lived in Washington, DC since 2001. She worked as a mentor in Southeast, DC, and through that role formed a partnership with TYO in the mid-2000s. Kristi learned to mountain bike right alongside her mentees. Prior to her first session, she rode a demo bike down an aisle at Costco to see if she still remembered how to ride! Pat and Ken taught her to use gears and hand breaks for the first time, as she’d only ever ridden California beach cruisers growing up. Over the years, a love for both mountain biking and road biking grew. Today, Kristi works as a nurse in primary care during the week and spends her weekends teaching with REI and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). She teaches new riders to pedal confidently and grow their handling skills, instructs intro to mountain biking, and leads kayak tours. Certified in Wilderness First Aid, she serves as a course medic and sweep at many of TYO’s youth races. She and her husband, Jeffrey, live in Southeast DC with their dog, Tiko, and enjoy live music, craft distilleries, and escape rooms.
Mike has lived and worked in Fairfax County for the past 30+ years. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he grew up with a love for the great outdoors, backpacking in the Laurel Highlands and along the C&O Canal. After getting married to Michelle and having two boys, Matthew and Mitchell, he became active in volunteering at their schools including PTA and coaching Odyssey of the Mind. His youngest son Mitchell became involved with TYO which introduced him to MTB racing that he continues to do today. When not traveling and camping with his family, Mike enjoys supporting the schools and programs in his community.
Janet Merrifield, President
Janet has been volunteering and mountain biking since she was old enough to reach the pedals. Her parents taught her the importance of volunteer work and enjoying the great outdoors! She joined the TYO Board when she was a 5thGrade AAP teacher at Springfield Estates Elementary school where she ran the Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS) Club for 5th and 6thgrade girls and the Electronics Club for 6th grade. She was also a coach for Odyssey of the Mind and assisted with Girls Run Club. Janet is passionate about applying academics to the real world! Mountain biking can be used to explore geometry, ratios, physics, types of energy, and the importance of physical education! She has been teaching music and sailing for 20 years. Janet enjoys running, biking, and every water sport. As a member of TYO’s Board, she loved bringing the classroom to the trails and the lake to help students of all ages overcome obstacles! She currently enjoys teaching her two children about biking, nature, and how to explore the world!
Pat was introduced to volunteering by his mother early in life; he has practiced what his mother shared with him throughout his life. Pat joined the TrailsforYouth.Org (TYO) Board in 2010 and has served as the TYO President since 2013. Pat particularly enjoys joining the TYO youth for the summer weekend mountain biking rides as well as the annual summer camping trip to Rocky Gap State Park. Prior to joining the TYO Board, Pat served as a Big Brother mentor from 2004-2009; upon becoming a Big Brother, Pat quickly joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters Northern Virginia Council, or NovaBigs, where he served as President from 2005-2009. Pat has always loved the outdoors; he is avid runner, biker, tennis player, hiker and skier (most recently, he summitted North Pal mountain in CA and heli-skied in British Columbia). Pat is a program engineering manager at Orbital-ATK where he continues to pursue his childhood dreams of launching rockets.
I have lived in the DC area for 27 years, starting in DC, followed by two years in
Maryland, and the remaining time of over 20 years in Northern Virginia. Grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. Love being outdoors and stayed out of college for a semester between Sophomore and Junior years to spend 7 months living and working in Yosemite National Park, an amazing experience. Back in the mid 1980’s, after completing an MPA at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU, got married and came out to the DC area to work at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a colleague of Pat Childers for years, I became intrigued with the wonderful work he and Julie were doing with what is now called “Trails for Youth.” I was pleased to join the Board in 2009 to help in this worthwhile effort to bring kids in touch with nature and healthier life styles. My husband Eric, who is an avid camper, sailor and kayaker, has also joined me and become a supporter of Trails for Youth’s mission.
5 year Board member President for 3 years, avid MTB’ing and MTB Advocacy for over a decade. Scott retired after 21 years with HP and was proclaimed by his friends as an International Man of Leisure. His wife Margaret and he traveled extensively. He brought smiles and joy to all the kids he helped teach biking, or encourage to try one more lap, one more ride, one more push of effort. In 2014 he suffered a severe bike accident and ultimately passed away. His legacy lives on in all those he helped instill a love of mountain biking or racing. He was always in the background helping, cooking, encouraging and in short leading. He was always willing to make the time to make the effort. We will continue to honor him in all our efforts.