News from the Trail

Trail Ambassador Season Wrap-Up

September 11th, 2020

Dear Ambassadors,

Congratulations on the 2020 season! With challenges seemingly around every corner, it was certainly not an easy road, but we still accomplished some big things. I am so grateful for each and everyone of you who participated this year, either by signing up for a volunteer shift or by just staying in the loop by being on the email list.

We kicked off the season by collaborating on and premiering the first online Trail Ambassador Training. A big shout out to the volunteers who helped to design and give feedback on the training, and to those who contributed their voices. Thanks to the online training, we were able to overcome the ban on public gatherings and had over 30 volunteers gear up to be ambassadors, with about 50% of those folks being new to the program this year. 

Even though the pandemic ultimately meant we were limited to only four open trailheads, those of you who went out had a big impact. Huge thank you to the volunteers who got out there and set up their physically distanced Ambassador stations in the face of uncertain trail openings, and an unprecedented amount of use on public lands this summer. You answered questions for over 200 hikers, helped to normalize mask wearing on the trail, and provided valuable on-the-ground feedback for land managers. 

It’s been exciting to see so many of you get involved with the new On-trail Ambassador program that we recently debuted. By eliminating the need for public interaction, we hope this will provide an opportunity for more folks to be active in the program during what continues to be a challenging year. We decided to offer this volunteer opportunity year round, in the hopes that it will prove to be a useful feedback tool for land managers and a great way for you to stay active as an Ambassador through the rainy portion of the hiking season.

This year saw the Trail Ambassador program emerge as a network capable of innovation, flexibility and teamwork. We forged new relationships with our sister programs in Washington state, on the Oregon Coast, and with our friends in the River Ambassador program. Through this network of collaboration, volunteers were able to get out to trails and beaches on the North Coast, our volunteer training was able to be more inclusive, and we helped advise a fledgling Ambassador program near Seattle. We showed just how powerful the network model can be, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish next year. 

In a year where many things were uncertain, you kept the heart of this program beating. No matter what the next year brings, I look forward to continuing the good work of this program with a stellar group of volunteers, stakeholders and partners. Thank you for your dedication to the program and to Oregon’s trails.

 

Natalie Ferraro | Engagement Manager

natalie.ferraro@trailkeepersoforegon.org

 

Interview with a Volunteer – Claudio

June 1st, 2020

 

A photo of Crew Leader Claudio Berstein

Crew Leader Claudio Berstein

Bringing the Trail Crew to you! This is a continuation of our “Interview with a Volunteer” series that we’ll be using to bring the fun of being a Trailkeeper to you while you stay safe at home.

Hiking in Virtual Time

May 25th, 2020

By Tom Kloster

After the Eagle Creek Fire in September 2017, I know I was not alone in
sorting through photos and trip reports from before the fire. While it has
taken time for all of us to absorb the changes the fire brought to the Gorge,
seeing old photos of our favorite places from years passed was a needed
escape.

Activating Oregon’s citizenry, a moment for a movement

May 23rd, 2020

by Steve Kruger – TKO Executive Director

I am deeply concerned about what is happening to our Oregon State Parks with reductions in operational staff and the possible layoffs of critical support within the agency’s ranks. We are concerned this is a preview of what is going to happen across all public lands. All federal, state and local lands are scrambling to catch up on season staff changes while managing new normals in visitor safety — all in a time of re-opening public lands and the looming realities of shrinking budgets. Oregon’s citizenry can help, if we make it a priority.

[To land managers – Please don’t take this message as a slight on our work together in this critical time. There are a number of examples of you persevering to get volunteers to help you all – we are excited to celebrate that effort soon. This is an acknowledgement of your excellence, the importance of our work together and what you all are struggling to balance.]

Interview with a Volunteer – Daron

May 18th, 2020
Picture of volunteer Daron when she earned her green hard hat

A proud day for Daron, having attended 5 trail parties and earned her green hat.

Bringing the Trail Crew to you! This is a continuation of our “Interview with a Volunteer” series that we’ll be using to bring the fun of being a Trailkeeper to you while you stay safe at home.

Nature Without Us

April 20th, 2020

by Paul Gerald | TKO Board President

 person walks away from the camera along a dirt road through a field of yellow flowers

Spring wildflowers at Rowens Crest. Photo by Cheryl Hill.

For the first time in 20-plus years of living in Portland, I am missing the Gorge wildflower season. It is, in the proverbial sense, killing me. But I take comfort from two facts: It’s the right thing to do, and the flowers will probably be better off without us stepping on them for a season.

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