About This Pathways Issue…
Youth programs on the national trails system warrant regular and intensive attention in the publications of the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) because they inherently relate to all three of the goals (Outreach, Protection, and Capacity) of the Decade for the National Trails. As the programs in this report demonstrate, youth programs are not just “extra” services offered by an organization; they can serve as the foundation or rallying focal point for organizations to build their capacity and protect their trails.
Ultimately, the engagement of youth is at the core of each trail’s future vibrancy. No matter how much time and effort is placed into the preservation of land or sites, or the leverage of strong capacity towards the construction of trails, without successful buy-in from the next generation, the sites acquired today will go unappreciated and the carefully maintained trails will be overgrown.
Due to the intensive time, effort, and strategic planning required to develop robust youth programming, trails may struggle in deciding how to best allocate their capacity in light of their other organizational goals. The PNTS continues to encourage its partners to prioritize youth engagement for the long-term health and sustainability of the National Trails System (NTS).
In the past, the PNTS has published overview reports on youth programs on the NTS (available online at www.pnts.org/outreach-and-pr). These reports were intended for “at-a-glance” overviews of as many programs as possible. This report aims to provide trails leaders with a more detailed view of a sampling of programs, with the hope that background information such as funding, costs, and partnership approaches will enable other organizations and offices to build and grow their own programs.
We hope that the information presented in this report will help give trails leaders ideas and reference points for developing and expanding youth programming along each trail. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions!