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Trail Ambassador Programs: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices webinar
October 28, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
est practices from some of the best trail ambassador programs across the nation, representing a variety of trail user types, to offer sage advice for starting programs for your trail.
- Phil Hough, Executive Director, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
- Ernest Saeger, Executive Director, Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance
- Natalie Ferraro, Engagement Manager, Trailkeepers of Oregon
- Adam Harden, Deputy Administrator, Ambassador Program, NOHVIS
- Randy Harden, Program Administrator, Ambassador Program, NOHVIS
- Phyllis Turner, Volunteer Lead, Trail Ambassador Program, Director, Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail
- Bruce Lawrence, Recreational Vehicle Coordinator, Division of Enforcement, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Steve McClintock, National Director for Arizona, Back Country Horsemen of America
- Taylor Goodrich, Communication and Media Specialist, American Trails
Trail ambassador programs can be a boon to any trail or trail system. They build local engagement, help identify and solve deferred maintenance issues, and turn casual users into lifelong advocates. We’ve gathered together leaders of some of the best ambassador programs across the nation, representing a variety of trail user types, to share best practices and offer sage advice for starting programs for your trail. This session will showcase great examples and resources and will focus on providing ample time for answering your most burning questions. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage your most ardent supporters in meaningful ways.
Below are prime examples of the ambassador programs you will learn more about on the webinar:
Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness Trail Ambassadors (Idaho)
In 2015 a hiker on the Scotchman Peak trail encouraged a mountain goat to lick his leg for a unique “selfie”, resulting in dozens of stitches and a trail closed for the remainder of the season. The next summer our volunteer Trail Ambassadors program began. We recruit, train and deploy volunteer trail ambassadors on Scotchman Peak, an iconic mountain in the panhandle of Idaho, on weekends and holidays from early June to Early October. Our Ambassadors engage, one on one, the thousands of hikers drawn to this iconic trail in order to keep mountain goats wild, hikers safe and trails open for our community during
Trailkeepers of Oregon Trail Ambassador Program (Oregon)
Trailkeepers of Oregon’s Trail Ambassador program currently serves hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge, the Mt. Hood National Forest and is growing to serve the Oregon coast as well. Started in 2018 in response to a need for up-to-date public information after the Eagle Creek Fire closed hundreds of miles of trails in the Gorge, the program has grown and widened its focus to make trails in Oregon a welcoming and safe place for all people to connect with nature. The program has worked with over 150 volunteers over the last 4 years and is building an innovative network approach to share the love by being a hub for resources that help other organizations in Oregon meet their need for similar programming.
Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance Wildlife Trail Ambassador Program (Colorado)
The Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance (VVMTA) launched the Wildlife Trail Ambassador (WTA) program in the spring of 2018 after recognizing the need to proactively educate and communicate with trail users and the community about seasonal wildlife trail closures in Eagle County, Colorado. Volunteer ambassadors are placed at seasonally closed trailheads to enforce and educate trail users about the closure along with leave no trace principles, trail etiquette, and options where trail users can recreate during these times. Additionally, the program includes social ambassadors who are members of the community who frequently interact and inform the public of the importance of seasonal closures at events/meetings such as hotel conferences, community groups, at outdoor retailers, and within their social networks. The VVMTA in partnership with the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District has installed and managed over 10 game cameras on seasonally closed trails to provide data and inform the direction and decisions of the WTA program. Since the program began, volunteer ambassadors have logged over 500 hours and contacted over 2,000 trail users at trailheads.
NOHVIS Group Trail Ambassador Program (Wisconsin)
The NOHVIS Group trail ambassador program is a proven success in Wisconsin as it increases participation in off-highway motorized vehicle clubs, establishes a presence of volunteers on the trails, helps increase safety for other users and engages a positive image in community events. Trail ambassadors undergo online classroom training with hands-on field day training. We work closely with local, state and federal land managers and law enforcement agencies to provide a positive image for our sport.
Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail Ambassadors (British Columbia, Canada)
The Okanagan Rail Trail is situated in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and was opened in September 2018. It is jointly owned by the City of Kelowna, the Okanagan Indian Band, the District of Lake Country and the Regional District of North Okanagan. Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail (FORT) is the recognized volunteer society that works to improve the trail and the trail users experience.
The purpose of the Trail Ambassador program is to recruit, train and retain volunteers to welcome visitors, answer questions observe use patterns, encourage and model trail etiquette, record maintenance issues, and submit user feedback reports to the trail owners. We have a small volunteer committee that develops, maintains, and promotes the program, gathers needed resources, plans, implements and evaluates training, and reports to the board at monthly meetings.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Trail Ambassadors (Minnesota)
The 2007 Minnesota Legislature established an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Safety and Conservation Program and Advisory Council (MS 84.9011) to assist in safety and environmental education and monitoring trails on public lands. OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) such as four-wheel-drive trucks.
The “Minnesota DNR Volunteer Trail Ambassador Program” was established by the DNR Divisions of Enforcement, Parks & Trails and Forestry. The program exists to promote safe, environmentally responsible operation of OHVs through informational, educational contacts and monitoring efforts. Oversight and management of the program is the responsibility of the DNR Division of Enforcement, Safety/Education section.
This is a statewide program with focus on established state OHV trails and grant in aid trail systems. The program involves 22 ATV clubs with 200 Trail Ambassadors monitoring trails on an annual basis from May 1st to Oct 31st.
Back Country Horsemen of America Trail Ambassadors/Trail Adopters (National)
The Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) was formed in 1973 and is now a nationwide service organization with 11,000 members in 32 states including 205 chapters. The primary reason for forming BCHA was the possibility of losing our traditional right to use recreational stock in the back country. One key mission is on “Keeping Trails Open For All” — with a focus on non-motorized trails. The sustainment of our access to the National Trail System is a related co-mission. We are advocates for “Maintaining Public Lands in Public Hands.” Over the last 47 years, BCHA has done maintenance, preservation and construction on trails, trailheads, and other projects — in the forests, parks, and wilderness — valued at over $150 million. BCHA tries to be an effective, helpful volunteer group to assist and support land managers as well as public officials, lawmakers, and legislators. Back Country Horsemen of Arizona has an interesting partnership with the Tonto National Forest wherein they maintain and monitor 16 hiker/horse trails on the forest. The presenter will speak briefly on their trail adopters/ambassadors on lessons learned and where that partnership has gone.
American Trails National Recreation Trails Ambassador Program (National)
The National Recreation Trail (NRT) Ambassador Program is a nationwide effort, led by American Trails, to enlist volunteers for stewardship, collaboration, and information gathering on the over 1,300 NRTs across America. The NRT program was created in 1968 and over the years many previously designated NRTs have stopped being active in the program. Our volunteer ambassadors are helping to get updated information on these trails for the NRT database, including updated photos, centerline data, and signage for each trail.
Following the presentations, the panelists will respond to questions from webinar participants.
- Learn successful strategies for creating your own ambassador program
- Understand processes for individual ambassador programs in small and large settings
- Understand processes for individual ambassador programs of different trail types