Thank you to all of our TKO volunteers and supporters. Your remarkable contributions are building towards a trails legacy for Oregon. Your impact is making a difference to young and young at heart, including my son Van – who has grown up around this movement we are building. I have been fortunate to have him witness Trailkeepers in action, and his appreciation of what we do has grown along the way. No matter who is wearing a hard hat or hiking in the woods – driving from daycare through the streets of SE Portland or in a new TKO video we are watching – Van wants to know “what is that Trailkeeper doing, are they keeping trails?” I am so glad to have the impressions of our work being exposed to him at his most formative years. And just like the boy, TKO is growing strong and fast as well!
When Van was just under a year old, I started in my role as a part-time Executive Director. In the last two and a half years working for this organization, we’ve added mine plus two more full-time positions and have another staff for the Oregon Coast coming on in January 2020. We’ve also had multiple internship positions helping boost our stewardship around specific projects. With a growing staff team, we’ve boosted our volunteer leadership from less than five trail crew leaders in 2016 to over 50 crew leaders today. Some leaders offer their give-back to trails as weekend warriors, while other folks are drumming a beat of stewardship during the week. Each person gives what they can, at a clip that works for their life and availability. These committed volunteer leaders and their leadership development and support is critical to our growth. More staff support, more volunteer leaders = more trail stewardship achieved in 2019 than ever before.
From fire recovery efforts within the Columbia Gorge to reviving sections of the Oregon Coast Trail, we are making an impact and engaging more people in trail stewardship and advocacy. The proof is both out on trails and within our expanding organization. With a growing TKO staff and volunteer leadership, we are succeeding in bridging gaps and striving to do more. We have had a very powerful year, having had a focus on:
At the beginning of 2019, TKO staff and the board of directors came together to build a new 10-year strategic plan. The hearts and heads in those working groups deserve a mighty amount of gratitude. The attention given to mission, values and vision to qualify where we hope to impact change in trail stewardship, advocacy, outreach and education will shape where we go in the next decade. Oregon’s trails and current and future hikers will be thankful for what is to come. You can hit the link here for TKO’s 2020-30 Strategic Plan, but here are just a few choice highlights:
Trailkeepers of Oregon’s (TKO) mission is to protect and enhance the Oregon hiking experience through trail stewardship, advocacy, outreach and education.
Oregon’s trails are a place where people can go to connect with nature and one another. They are accessible and welcoming to all communities. The trails and the natural lands that visitors explore are well cared for by TKO inspired stewards and dedicated public resources.
We build, restore and maintain trails at the highest standards to leave a lasting legacy.
We create partnerships with diverse communities and work together to make trails and nature welcoming & accessible.
We give voice to Oregon’s hiking community, building bridges between the public and decision-makers to ensure a thriving trail system in Oregon, accessible to all communities.
We connect people with nature, inspiring a responsibility to maintain access to Oregon’s natural places.
We develop collaborative relationships and trusting partnerships with land managers, volunteers and trail supporters to make significant impact with limited resources.
Provide safe and fun experiences to volunteers, build and restore trails to provide a quality hiking experience, and teach stewardship ethics to visitors of Oregon’s nature places. ie Expand 30% of our trail party locations to new trails we have not performed stewardship on before.
Promote hikers’ interests in Oregon with public agencies, elected officials and other organizations that impact the hiking experience. ie Conduct two to three concurrent new trail campaigns to both promote new trails and the role of TKO as an advocate for expanding trail opportunities by end of 2020.
Connect & engage the trails community and potential trail users with TKO’s work and the understanding that everyone can be a “trailkeeper.” ie Within our messaging, instill a stewardship ethic and sense of responsibility that we’re all trailkeepers.
Grow the organization efficiently and sustainably to expand TKO’s impact statewide. ie Build an advisory team of 5-6 members to inform the creation of a DEI Statement/Strategy/Plan to include specific values, goals objectives and annual tactics.
We are very excited for the next decade of new adventures to Oregon’s natural and scenic places – both to places we currently steward and emerging opportunities coming to fruition. Through planned strategy and unique opportunities, we need more capacity to build strong partnerships across the state. Behind the scenes month by month, a big thank you must be given to our eNewsletter team. They shared many stories throughout the year.
And wrapping up today is the TKO Legacy Builders – our 2019 end of year giving campaign – has been a significant way for us to motivate support through sharing 8 trail successes, 8 trail aspirations week by week. Each week we posted new TKO webpages to share our work on trails across the state. Please check out TKO Legacy Builders to learn more about just some of the special places we are dedicated and inspired to take care of. There is still time for you to support those places – click the link to donate today.
And here we are, down to the numbers for 2019 found below…. expanding our reach and striving for continued excellence in the quality of programs we offer happens through a steady heartbeat of trail stewardship events – week in and week out, every day of the year. We wanted to give you a glimpse of that focus over TKO Legacy Builders campaign, as we are very excited for the next decade of new adventures along our trail connections to Oregon’s natural and scenic places. By the end of 2019, we will have reached a number of significant milestones in our TKO history – hosting more stewardship activities than we have ever accomplished before.
Thank you, again to our amazing volunteers, board, staff, partners and supporters. I’m so proud of what we have achieved and eager to continue building our Oregon trails legacy for the future.
See you out on the trails,
TKO Executive Director
These partners are helping ensure that our sacred outdoor spaces are protected and maintained for years to come. Thank you!
Send us a message to learn more about how you can help us advocate for Oregon’s trails. Or contact us at:
Trail Keepers of Oregon
P.O. Box 14814
Portland, Oregon 97293
TKO’s mission is accomplished through thoughtful relationships with passionate partners and supporters.