Next Generation

Engaging the next generation of trail stewards and champions is a priority for PNTS and its member organizations. These programs directly align with the goals of the Decade for the National Trails Outreach, Protection and Capacity building. A variety of programs, scholarships and interns have been offered to help develop an interest in the outdoors and the national scenic and historic trails.

For summaries of some of the programs both for youth and young adults, please review the following reports:


National Trails System Intern Grants

Many young adults exhibit the skills and passion necessary to make a greater contribution to the National Trails System. In an effort to provide greater opportunities, PNTS—in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service—provides mini project grants that will allow for young adults to become involved, or further their involvement, with our national trails.

Specifically, these grants will help to support internships. They will be available to both Federal agency partners and PNTS nonprofit member group organizations and affiliates. Nonprofit and Federal agency partnerships are strongly encouraged, such that the two entities work together to create internship opportunities. Learn more here.


Trail Apprentice Program

Since 2009, the Partnership for the National Trails System, with the support of its federal partners, has brought next generation attendees to its conferences and workshops. Hailing from across the country, these Trail Apprentices have brought valued perspectives to the trails community. Trail Apprentices bring valued perspectives to the trails community from introducing new technology and social media to making connections with new audiences to generating new ideas and ways to get things done. Beginning in 2020, the Trail Apprentice Program has been expanded to offer virtual career exploration and networking opportunities in addition to participation at the annual workshops. The 2023 Trail Apprentice Program will provide opportunity for leadership development in addition to attendance at the National Trails Workshop in Orlando, FL on November 7-9 and career exploration virtual sessions.

New! 2023 Trail Apprentice Program:

The deadline to apply for the 2023 Trail Apprentice Program is February 28th, 2023 So don’t wait! Learn more and apply here.


Young adult programs

In addition to the Trail Apprentice program, programs for young adults range from internships to summer jobs building trail. These programs are characterized by imparting skills (use of tools, media, …), leadership and team building, hands on and experiential learning opportunities. The young adults who participate in these programs take away skill sets that will serve them in future jobs and life in general.

These programs represent an investment in the next generation to develop the leadership with the skill sets to step up and take on the challenges of the National Scenic and Historic Trails in the next 25 years.


Youth programs

Youth programs, developed by the member organizations of the Partnership, engage youth in trail stewardship, historical interpretation, and conservation initiatives in addition to providing an introductory outdoor experience for many of the youth that participate.

Partnering with existing youth organizations and schools has improved the quality of youth programs as well as the participation rates – numbers of youth and particularly diverse youth. Future youth opportunities may include programs targeted at families. Family programs will help build a long term commitment to the outdoors and are considered a next step for organizations continuing to build their youth trail programming.