Meet the 2023 Trail Apprentices

A group of young adults smiling and holding a flag with the National Trails System logo on it


The Trail Apprentice Program provides learning, leadership development, peer exchange, and networking opportunities for students and young professionals between the ages of 18 and 28 who are considering careers in trails and public lands. PNTS is excited to see such enthusiasm for National Trails and we’re pleased to introduce the 2023 PNTS Trail Apprentices. We are excited to have these young leaders join the trails community at the National Trails Workshop in Orlando, Florida November 7-9, 2023.


Gabriel Pacheco Santa             (He/him/él)

San Juan, Puerto Rico



Gabriel is and environmental educator and outdoor recreation enthusiast from Puerto Rico. He works as an environmental interpreter for Para la Naturaleza, a local non-profit that focuses on the conservation of lands of high ecological value in Puerto Rico’s archipelago. He holds a BS in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Writing and Communication and master’s level coursework in Water, Soil and Air Quality management, and is working towards a professional certificate in GIS and Remote Sensing. An avid hiker for years, Gabriel got his start in trail maintenance as a volunteer at El Yunque National Forest’s trail system built originally by the Civilian Conservation Corps early in the 1900’s. He enjoys hiking with his dog Cupey, mountain biking, birdwatching, and tracing new trails he still has no business building.

Gabriel’s Career Aspirations
I would like to find a role in which I get to lead or support the design, construction and maintenance of multi-use trails that leverage environmental and cultural interpretation to help folks make stronger connections to their public lands. I care about trails because they’re one of the most fun and economic ways to connect with our natural landscapes. For me, every trail is an opportunity to clear my mind, exercise, and explore new ecosystems. I also care about trails because they are my everyday tools for environmental interpretation, mental healing, and community building.

Why the Trail Apprentice Program?
The chance to connect with trail practitioners and apprentices from all backgrounds, learn about trail management strategies, and explore career opportunities in the outdoor recreation industry. I hope to identify the key professional competencies and strategies for trail management careers, opportunities to improve and increase access to our National Trail System, and meet the folks that do it day in and day out.

What is a memorable trail experience you’d like to share?
In the summer of 2021, smack in the middle of the pandemic, I joined the White River National Forest’s trail crew at the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in Carbondale, Colorado. On this one backpacking trip, my crew got to crosscut a huge Douglas fir and build a primitive 30-foot creek crossing to Conundrum Hot Springs out of it in a designated wilderness area. No chainsaws, motorized winches or power tools; just Pulaskis, crosscut saws, backcountry-made tripods, webbing, and a whole lot of teamwork, brainstorming and on-the-fly problem solving. It took 8 crewmates, 2 weeks, and too many clif bars to count, but seeing folks cross that new bridge seconds after easing it over the gabions literally brought tears to my eyes.

Olivia Hall (She/Her)

Asheville, North Carolina



Olivia Hall has been working in the outdoors since 2019. Having worked on a trail crew, a prescribed fire crew, a couple of biodynamic farms, and as a cook at a few outdoor education institutions, she finally had the chance to dip her toe into outdoor ed instructing in 2022. Hailing from Ohio, she is now based out of Asheville, NC. She is a big proponent of outdoor recreation and experiential education, valuing how they can cultivate personal growth and connectedness to both the natural world and human communities. She dedicates much of her time to making these spaces and experiences more accessible to marginalized communities, in particular for BIPOC folks in the Western North Carolina area.

Olivia’s career aspirations
I aspire to continue to work in the outdoor industry. One aspiration I have is to become a rock climbing guide, and in particular, I hope that one day I would be able to use this skillset to guide and instruct all folks in rock climbing, and in particular to facilitate learning experiences in affinity spaces. I also aspire to eventually work for or make my own outdoors events or festival. All of these aspirations are things that would, mostly if not entirely, occur on public lands or National Trails.

Why do you care about trails?
So many of my most formative experiences have happened on trails! Hiking, and then later car-camping and backpacking, were my primary entry-point to outdoor recreation, which has become one of the driving forces of my life. I enjoy both being in nature itself, as well as the internal challenge and growth it has elicited in me, and the close friends and personal connections I have forged in the outdoors. Though I’ve since gotten more involved in more of the outdoor adventure/sports side of the outdoors, I still love and appreciate trails, for how accessible of an entry-point they are to the outdoors and for the important purpose they serve for conservation, through creating a durable surface on which folks can tread.

What is a memorable trail experience you’d like to share?
I worked on a Conservation Corps in Maine, building and maintaining trails at 3 different sites in Maine for 4.5 months. In that experience, I spent 9 days on (5 days off) with my fellow crew members, primarily building stairsteps out of rock, occasionally out of felled wood, and even more rarely, walking the trails clearing blowdowns. That experience was, to date, the most physically intensive work I’ve ever done, and gave me a new understanding and appreciation of not only trails themselves, but also the various design choices and methodology which cause trails to look the way that they do.


Bianca (Nieves) I. Vazquez            (They/She)

Tucson, Arizona



Bianca (Nieves) Vázquez has interned with the National Park Service (Grand Canyon) and the NPS – Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (NPS-RTCA) Program for the Inter-Mountain Region. They focus on developing strategy plans that encompass difficult dialogues on engaging local Tribal Nations, Indigenous youth broadly, and rural community / communities of color with public lands and natural resources. Their passion for trails is linked to access and storytelling – intersecting how inclusive stories/public interpretation can increase feelings of safety for underserved communities in the outdoors. Currently, they work for Arizona Conservation Corps as a Recruitment Coordinator to engage young adults in the field of conservation through trail crews and federal agency internships. Nieves has also previously worked on urban farms to teach on land access, sustainable foodways, and community action for environmental/land awareness. Nieves received a B.A. in Psychology, a B.A. in Ethnic studies, and a certificate in Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies with a focus on societal conflict from the University of Texas at Austin. They enjoy farming, collecting vinyl records, and drawing whenever they’re not out in nature. Nieves is from Houston, Texas and is a descendant of the Huachichil Chichimecatl of so-called Mexico.

Nieves’s career aspirations
I aspire to work in a field dedicated to diversifying the outdoors and increasing the safety and access of trails for all people, which correlates with the conversations happening on topics of the National Trails System and public lands as a whole.

What is a memorable trail experience you’d like to share?
A memorable trail experience I think about often is a historical trail on Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim near Desert View Watchtower. The trail was built by one of the first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the states and follows east along the rim to places of solitude and grand views of the canyon. I remember sitting there with fellow park rangers to reflect on why we live and work there.

What drew you to the Trail Apprentice Program?
What drew me to the Trail Apprentice Program was attending a webinar hosted by the previous cohort. I was interning at Grand Canyon National Park, a remote area in Northern Arizona, where I was missing a community solely invested in progressing inclusion in the outdoors. Their stories, experiences and goals inspired me to pursue my own goals in the outdoors sector… and therefore encouraged me to apply to the Trail Apprentice Program. I hope to gain valuable insight about how non-profits partner with federal agencies and public sectors.

Carina Burgher (They/She)

Stockton, California



Carina Burgher is a disabled creative who channels their appreciation and reverence for nature in their works of poetry, fiber arts, and mixed media. They were born and raised in Northern California but moved to Oregon for their Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science from Oregon State University. For the last few years Carina has lived in southeast Michigan where they intermittently studied for a masters in Social Work while managing complex health conditions. Now, Carina seeks to combine their education in adaptive recreation and health promotion with their experience working with disabled children in order to facilitate an outside for everyone.

Carina’s career aspirations
My career aspirations have shifted several times in my young adulthood. That being said, I have always known that I want what I do to be of benefit to and in service of others, especially children of marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Though I do not have a clear picture in mind of a position that already exists for me to fill, I will serve to amplify the voices of those who have previously not been accommodated or felt safely included in our parks, trails, and wilderness areas.

Why do you care about trails?
My most treasured memories are filled by experiences outdoors: hiking Mount Lassen, playing in the wildflower meadows at Calaveras Big Trees, wrinkling my nose at the volcanic sulfur pools along the trail of Devil’s Kitchen, making the loop around Burney Falls… These also happen to be some of my earliest memories, which is why I continue to find solace and comfort in trails and am passionate about preserving access to them.

There are so many trail experiences that stick out to me as core memories that it is hard to choose just one. However, the first trail I managed to navigate in a wheelchair is a memory that glows. I had not been able to hike for several years and my heart ached for it. A local arboretum and botanical park had a loaner off-road chair (Grit Freedom) that made the barriers of an unpaved path disappear. It was a short mile or two, along a creek and under oak, birch, and maple trees. That hike filled me with a joy that lingered for weeks and I have been chasing experiences like it ever since.

What drew you to the Trail Apprentice Program?
The Trail Apprentice Program appeals to me because I am someone who has always sought out ways to be surrounded by nature. Unfortunately, as my health has declined due to disability I have experienced barriers to outdoor spaces. The TAP represents a chance for me to reconnect with the awe of our preserved environments. Through participating in TAP, I hope to gain the opportunity to advocate for and inspire change in the accessibility of trails and other public lands. Ideally, my time as an apprentice will lead to further chances to engage in DEI (diversity equity and inclusion) work.

Adrian Wilson (He/Him)

Tallahassee, FL



My name is Adrian Wilson, I am a fourth year student at Florida A&M University studying Political Science/Environmental Science. My love for building communities is something that I am passionate about and it has given me more opportunities than I could have imagined. It has taken me out of my shell that I once had as a young freshman, to the blossoming and promising senior that I am today. My love for community has motivated me to create a summer book club that promoted black and brown literature to black and brown students throughout my campus and community. This eventually morphed into some of my present day friends and allowed me to create lasting relationships with people on this campus today.
What is your proudest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment and the one that I am most proud of is creating the FAMU Outdoor Club. This organization truly changed my life in a plethora of ways. I have not only brought more than 400 students on FAMU, FSU, and TCC’s campus greater access to outdoor recreation, but I have also introduced more black and brown students to the outdoors. We have gone kayaking, rock climbing, gardening, biking, surfing, and done community service all over Tallahassee. We have been able to partner with Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) (one of the country’s largest sporting goods and outdoor recreation distributors), worked on a campaign with The North Face this past summer, worked with Red Bull to go on a surf competition in Jacksonville, created a rock climbing video with Black Diamond to increase outdoor recreation awareness on HBCU campuses, had the honor of not only having an entire page section of the Tallahassee Democrat, but also having the entire front page, and also are soon to be working with The Florida Trail Association. I have volunteered with various organizations around the Tallahassee Area and many outside of the state of Florida from ranging from working on Political Campaigns in my home state of Virginia to being an outdoor guide leader on trips in the southeast.

Why are you interested in learning more about the NTS?
I am interested in learning more about the NTS because I believe strongly in environmental stewardship and environmental education. I believe that we really need to get a younger audience into these fields and to know the beauty and vastness of the spaces we live in, but also to know the importance of the work that we do to conserve and maintain these trail systems. I am currently informed only as a beginner about the entirety of the NTS, but I am familiar with a vast majority of the trails around the US and the 11 Congressionally Designated Trail Systems (including the Florida Trail).

What drew you to the Trail Apprentice Program?
I am interested in the Trail Apprentice Program because I believe heavily in trail stewardship and I want to continue to engage youth in the necessity and importance of environmental stewardship while also increasing diversity in the outdoor space(s).

Abi Glaum (She/Her)

Minneapolis, Minnesota



Abi Glaum is a Wisconsin native with kinship ties to the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Chippewa. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Psychology, French, and American Indian Studies, she entered the world of nonprofit management. Most recently, Abi has been working with the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis as a Domestic Violence educator and advocate. She’s had the wonderful opportunity to develop community systems and education that will be used to address the domestic violence disproportionately affecting Native Americans in Minnesota. In the fall, Abi is preparing to attend Johns Hopkins university to earn her Master’s in mental health counseling.

Abi’s career aspirations
My goal is to become a licensed therapist, and focus working with Native American youth. I think it’s really important to integrate and explore relationships to land when working with clients, because it opens up all new avenues for exploring trauma and healing. Nature can be a safe place for people, but there can also be a lot of unresolved intergenerational trauma when working with folks that were displaced from their ancestral lands. I want to learn how to approach this topic, and how to use land and trails as tools for healing.

Why do you care about trails?
I’ve really grown up on the trails throughout my life. My father was a pilot, so we moved pretty consistently for the first half of my life. No matter where we went, trails and parks were always the one constant. When we finally settled in Wisconsin, I began working at a summer camp in Northern Wisconsin. Spending my summers surrounded by hundreds of acres of untouched wilderness really impacted me, and strengthened my love for wild places. Now, as an adult woman, I’ve gained unparalleled confidence from knowing I can survive on my own, hundreds of miles away from civilization.

What is a memorable trail experience you’d like to share?
Once when I was nineteen, I decided to hop on a plane to Portland and spend a few days exploring. I didn’t realized you had to be at least 21 to rent a rental car, so when I got there, I had no way to get to the AirBnB I had rented 45 minutes outside of the city. Thankfully, a trail friend had an aunt and uncle living in Portland, and they let me stay with them for a few days. They even took me hiking to one of the nearby mountains, and I saw a rattlesnake for the first time in my life. I had a blast exploring all of the trails around and outside of the city, and I learned a valuable lesson about planning ahead.

Katherine Finck (She/Her)

Washington, D.C.



Kat Finck grew up in both New York City and New Hampshire, where she was drawn to all different types of outdoors experiences. She graduated from Middlebury College in May 2021 with a BA in Environmental Studies and minors in Spanish and Education. After graduation, she was offered a seasonal position to work in Devils Postpile National Monument as a Natural Resource Specialist. This experience, among others, inspired her love of conservation and public lands. She also came to witness the discrepancies in accessibility and made it a goal of hers to learn more about these issues. Her current position at the National Park Foundation allows her to address some of these concerns through the management of grant and event programming that directly support initiatives to make public lands more inclusive spaces. She is thrilled to have been selected as a member of this cohort, and is especially excited to learn more from her peers about their own dreams as they relate to the outdoors.

What do you hope to gain from the Trail Apprentice Program?
Having grown up in various environments, I appreciate how trails are maintained in both urban and rural settings, offering many different people the opportunity to get outside and connect with their surroundings. From my participation in the Trail Apprentice Program, I hope to expand my understanding of the complex factors that create, maintain and expand a wide variety of trails in the United States. My goals are to learn more about the barriers to accessibility and find opportunities that can be created through a greater understanding of these challenges. I’m also interested in learning more about the National Historic Trails. What stories are embedded within these landscapes and how can we get more people to engage with the stories of our nation’s history? I would love to learn more about the efforts being taken to promote these specific trails and how they are being managed to accurately represent the stories of our collective history. I am mostly just thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from and develop a network of support with other members of this cohort, folks from PNTS, and others involved with public lands for future collaborations!

Kat’s career aspirations
I am particularly interested in a future career that explores bilateral efforts to support public lands and conserved areas across the globe. I think it is important to learn how other countries have developed national trails systems and what experiences and strategies can be exchanged internationally to expand historic and scenic trail networks in both urban and preserved spaces.

What’s a memorable trail experience you would like to share?
One of my favorite memories is hiking the John Muir Wilderness section of the PCT. I grew up in the Northeast where the tallest peak is 6,300 feet. At first, the idea of being so far from a highway frightened me. Over time, I began to follow the patterns of nature and grew accustomed to the sounds that once startled me. There’s something so special about feeling comfortable under the stars, miles away from any developed structure and closer to your own thoughts. I hope to support and promote opportunities that allow as many people to experience and discover all different kinds of nature.