Message from the Executive Director Fall 2022

This fall the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) held an in-person workshop. It drew well over 200 people from around the nation to New Mexico to learn, share and celebrate trails together.

A perennial highlight of our fall workshop is the participation of the PNTS Trail Apprentices. The Trail Apprentice program is a career exploration program for emerging leaders aged 18 to 28 years. Trail Apprentices set and work toward goals through the program while learning more about different career paths available for professionals working in National Trails and other public lands. They also receive scholarships to attend the PNTS fall workshop so they may learn and network with active professionals and other trail enthusiasts.

This year, we welcomed seven Trail Apprentices, one of whom held a new position of peer leader, a second-year Trail Apprentice who takes on greater leadership within the program. Our very first Peer Leader, Callum Cintron, who also was recently named to our DEI Committee, led a ‘Next Gen’ roundtable at the workshop that brought together nearly 40 attendees to discuss their priorities, challenges and opportunities. The roundtable was so successful that we’re planning to organize virtual ‘Next Gen’ roundtables in 2023 with help and leadership from the Trail Apprentices. The experience made a mark on Callum, both literally and figuratively.

In a message sent by Callum following the workshop, they shared, “I wanted to extend my deepest appreciation to you all. Overall my time with PNTS has been amazing and has allowed me to engage with the outdoors in ways I thought my disability had taken from me. The workshop was inspiring and motivating… My work on various PNTS projects, the passion of the trails community and this last week (at the workshop) overall changed that for me.” Callum even shared an image of a tattoo they had gotten to commemorate the experience that has an outline similar to the National Trails’ logos.

You can see the impact of the PNTS next generation programs through this issue of Pathways Across America. Two of our Board members and one staff person are former Trail Apprentices. A fantastic podcast focused on the Oregon and California National Historic Trails features the work of a dynamic individual who remained involved with the trail organization following involvement through the PNTS Trail Intern Grant program. Regularly, we learn that staff working for trail organizations or Federal agencies became involved with National Trails through a PNTS program for emerging leaders. In fact, a recent survey showed that 83 percent of PNTS next generation program participants who responded to our survey report that they are currently working in, or engaged with, work related to outdoor recreation, conservation, or another field related to trails.

As the only national nonprofit organization focused on National Historic & Scenic Trails, PNTS plays the important role of being both a convener and coordinator for learning, collaboration and exchange. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work to expand the network of supporters for trails and to bring together seasoned and emerging leaders to collectively work to actualize a vibrant National Trails System for all.

All the best,

Valerie Rupp