By Cheryl Hill, Board Member, Trailkeepers of Oregon When winter snow has buried your favorite trails at high elevations, the Riverside National Recreation Trail #723 along the Clackamas River offers a great alternative. At 1,500 feet elevation, the…
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