Florida National Scenic Trail 2021 Highlights

The Florida Trail Association provided the following trail highlights and photos for the 2021 calendar year:

Local Economy, Tourism and Community Health

Florida Trail Gateway Community Kiosk

Dedicated Gateway Community Kiosk installed in Okeechobee, FL. Photo by Jenna Taylor, FTA.

This year our Gateway Communities program has continued to grow, thanks in large part to our intern grant from PNTS. Our intern added a new community, the City of Crestview, and has three more communities in the process of signing agreements with us. We also added five stamp locations to our Gateway Communities passport program. Finally, we installed dedicated Gateway Community kiosks in Okeechobee and Oviedo.

Collaboration and Engagement:

This year FTA launched its first Next Generation Coalition. The group has 16 members and has had an introductory meeting and a strategizing meeting. The Next Generation Coalition is dedicated to welcoming, training, and supporting the next generation of hikers and trail volunteers. Their tasks will include:

  • Participating in quarterly meetings of the Next Generation Coalition
  • Opportunities to participate in and advise the Florida National Scenic Trail Coalition
  • Opportunities to contribute to FTA communications, including the E-Blaze, Footprint Magazine and social media
  • Opportunities to organize dedicated hikes and trail maintenance events
  • Help develop FTA and Florida National Scenic Trail strategic plans
  • Strengthen partnerships with colleges, schools, affinity groups and other organizations
  • Other projects and initiatives as determined by the coalition
  • Opportunities to collaborate with the U.S. Forest Service partners
  • Opportunities to contribute to FTA Board of Directors meetings and decisions
  • Contribute to, create and implement FTA Justice, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) initiatives

Strengthening Organizations and Partnerships

This year, FTA launched a new website, volunteer database and membership database. Our new website is completely redesigned and has much fewer pages for easier navigation. It also features a newly designed FTA store. Our new volunteer management database, Galaxy Digital, will be used for logging hours, announcing events, and communicating with volunteers. Our old database was very slow and difficult to pull reports from, and volunteers would have to re-enter information when signing up for events and entering hours. The new system is much better integrated between the volunteer profile, event registrations and hours, and gives us much higher quality reporting data. Our new membership database replaced a decades-old Microsoft Access database that was quickly failing. We are now using “Network for Good”, which is cloud based and offers many more fundraising, communication and capacity building features.