Mt. Ashland guest services manager Ada Rivera received the Gene Leo Memorial award on Sunday in Salem.

Mt. Ashland guest services manager Ada Rivera received the Gene Leo Memorial award on Sunday in Salem during the Oregon Governor's Conference on Tourism on behalf of Mt. Ashland staff and the youth who built a nature trail at the ski in the summer of 2008.

The award recognizes an individual's contributions and efforts toward tourism-related activities or attractions that specifically focus on Oregon outdoor recreation.

Rivera managed Mt. Ashland's Youth Summer Service program for the past seven years. The program engages incoming eighth- and ninth-graders in environmental stewardship projects, and it was through this program that the nature trail was created.

Mt. Ashland staff members had previously presented a proposal to the U.S. Forest Service to build a three-quarter mile nature trail within the ski area permit boundary. The trail project focused on showcasing the geology, plants, animals and history of Mt. Ashland and the Siskiyou Mountain range by allowing easy public access to them.

Twenty-seven teens participated in building the trail over a three-week period last summer.

Each of the program participants received 20 hours of community service credit and $150 towards a season pass. The trail officially opened on August 23, 2008. The trail opens as soon as the snow melts, usually in early June.

Mt. Ashland has won two national environmental awards since 2002 — one for environmental education through the Youth Summer Services Program and one for energy conservation through the Green Chair Renewable Energy Program. This is Mt. Ashland's first award at the state level for ecotourism.