National Trails Virtual Workshop – October 21-29, 2020

Update 2/3/21:

The video recordings are now available to the public on the Workshop Final Program page and directly on YouTube .

Update 12/9/20:

Video recordings are now linked! We are still uploading a few items but you can find the majority of the presentations and videos on the password protected website. These will be available to workshop attendees through the site until February when they will be made available to the public. Please contact Liz Wessel if you can not find the password provided to workshop attendees.

Update 11/27/20:

The slide shows and power points from the sessions where they were used are now available on the password protected website. These will be available to workshop attendees through the site until February when they will be made available to the public.

Recordings from the sessions are not yet available.

UPDATE 10/30/2020:

Virtual Workshop Wraps Up

More than 200 people attended, presented, sponsored, and/or supported the Partnership for the National Trails System’s first Virtual Workshop. Thank you so much for making this Workshop a success we can build on! During the workshop we heard about practical examples and best practices; we were encouraged to recognize that a big vision for a trail requires us to think outside of traditional boundaries and values; we heard about partners raising one another up and highlighting the long underprioritized stories of peoples and nationals throughout our National Trails System; we heard stories that were both heart-wrenching and heartwarming; and we started many important dialogues that we must continue. You can still check our workshop website to find resources, contacts for presenters, and other materials. We will make an announcement when the recordings become available. Thank you!

Post Workshop Evaluation

Please take time to fill in our workshop evaluation (Link HERE). We designed so it will take about 5 minutes of your time. If you have more extensive comments, please send them to me via email – or by phone 608.204.2717. We will be meeting soon to review the workshop – its content and logistics. Your input is very helpful in this process! Thank you again for your participation.

UPDATE 10/21/2020:

Welcome! Join us at the Partnership for the National Trails System’s first Virtual Workshop from October 21st and October 29th to explore the following themes:

  • Advancing Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion
  • Expanding Partnerships Within and Beyond Trail Corridors
  • Increasing Capacity Through Organizational Development

Schedule and Sessions

    • FINAL SCHEDULE with Zoom links  Please note that you need to be registered to receive the password for the website with the Zoom links.
    • DETAILED SCHEDULE LINKED HERE: Includes abstracts, presenters, times, prework and take home resources
    • Sign up for Closed Session – Thursday Oct 22 at 2 PM EDT
    • All sessions will be held on Zoom
    • Generally, sessions will be help between 12 and 6 PM ET.

Register for the 2020 Virtual Fall Workshop

UPDATE 10/13/2020:

7 Days, 19 Sessions, $75 – Registration is Open and the Final Details are being Put in Place! 

Here is a quick synapsis of the Workshop Week. Please join us!

Wednesday, Oct. 21st: Hear keynote Speaker José González, Founder and Director Emeritus of Latino Outdoors, and meet Valerie Rupp, the Partnership for the National Trails System’s new Executive Director.
Thursday, Oct. 22nd: Participants will engage in discussions, reflections, and learning best practices for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work as a foundation for trail work.
Friday, Oct. 23rd: These sessions explore partnerships, storytelling, and persistence through the lens of three national historic trails: Selma to Montgomery, Captain John Smith Chesapeake, and the Overmountain Victory NHTs.
Monday, Oct. 26th: Having a toolbox for trail work is essential. Sessions today present new tools and approaches to establish and maintain national scenic and historic trails.
Tuesday, Oct. 27th: Partnerships are essential to getting trails established on the ground. And getting things done in Washington, D.C. Find out more in today’s sessions, as well as what comes next after the Great American Outdoors Act.
Wednesday, Oct. 28th: Fundraising and the next generation of trail leaders — both are essential to increasing the capacity of trail organizations.
Thursday, Oct. 29th: Whether it’s fundraising, program delivery, or advocacy, technology and visual media plays an essential role in communication. Sessions today will focus on technology. And we will end our workshop with a fun closing session and a peek into what’s next for the Partnership.

Register for the 2020 Virtual Fall Workshop

UPDATE 9/22/2020:

We would like to welcome you to join us at the National Trails Virtual Fall Workshop! These are indeed challenging times along our National Trails System. With the continuing COVID-19 health crisis, so many schedules, activities, trail events, and trail projects have been placed on hold and altered to accommodate the safety and concern for trail workers, volunteers, and trail enthusiasts nationwide.

The PNTS Fall Workshop Planning Committee and the Workshop and Conferences Committee have been working together to make this a lively and compelling workshop. We are adjusting the format and presentations to include interactive and compelling lessons learned sessions. Our goal has been to provide some takeaways and concepts that you can apply at your trail system at the regional and national levels.

By using a virtual format and reducing the registration fees, we are looking forward to having an opportunity to engage more people. Please register today and continue to share this workshop information. We hope that the workshop will be a gateway to working with a broader array of partners from a diverse set of backgrounds, welcoming new ideas and approaches to our trails and community work.

Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity! We look forward to seeing you virtually in October!

RG Absher, Fall Workshop Chair

2020 Virtual Workshop Homepage
Detailed Workshop Schedule
2020 Virtual Workshop Registration

UPDATE 9/10/2020:

Registration is now open here! Learn more about the workshop here:

UPDATE 8/17/2020:

Mark your calendars! The 2020 Virtual Partnership for the National Trails System Workshop program is now available (note: we are still working to refine the program, including presentations, as well as other learning and networking opportunities). In the coming weeks, we will add sign up links and other information for accessing the virtual conference sessions. You will be asked to register in order to receive the links for participating in individual sessions.

Virtual Workshop homepage
The basic information for the workshop
  • Will be held between October 21st and October 29th
  • There will be a registration fee: a standard rate and a rate for students and economically challenged
  • All sessions will be held on ZOOM
  • Upon registering, attendees will receive a link to register for individual sessions; you must register for a session in order to receive the ZOOM link for each session
  • The 3 themes for the workshop are:
    Advancing Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion
    Expanding Partnerships Within and Beyond Trail Corridors
    Increasing Capacity Through Organizational Development
Workshop email updates

Please sign up HERE for future updates and announcements regarding the workshop.

UPDATE 6/24/2020:

With much careful thought and deliberation, a consensus decision was reached earlier today at the Trail Leaders Council meeting to cancel the Partnership for the National Trails System’s in-person Fall Workshop (scheduled for October 26-30, 2020) at Spartanburg, South Carolina. This decision was made on the recommendation of the PNTS Conference and Workshop Committee and with the knowledge and agreement of the Board.

Anticipating this decision, the Fall Workshop team already has begun planning for a virtual workshop to be held at a similar time in late October (October 21-29, 2020). We are excited about seizing this opportunity to innovate, learn, deliver meaningful content, and provide new ways for us to engage with one another.

We wish to recognize RG Absher, Chair of the Fall Workshop Committee, and the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, for their work leading up to our original plans in South Carolina and now pivoting with the rest of the members of the team to take the agenda and translate it to a virtual event. We anticipate that a full schedule and details for participation will be available in mid-July.

If you have any questions concerning this email or this decision, please contact Karen Crossley at (608) 249-7870 (office), (608) 770-1641 (cell) or

We hope you all are staying safe. With great appreciation,

Barney Scout Mann                               Karen Crossley
Board Chair                                           Interim Executive Director

To read the full announcement regarding the decision to change to a virtual fall workshop in October, click HERE.

UPDATE 5/27/2020:

Are you willing or able to travel in October? The Fall Workshop Planning Committee wants your input on your willingness and ability to travel in October to Spartanburg, SC. RG Absher issued a message (read the full message HERE) asking that if you are or were interested in attending the Fall Workshop are you willing to travel or have the means to travel in October.

SURVEY FORM linked here. Due 6/7/20

UPDATE 5/15/2020:

The deadline for submitting Fall Workshop proposals has been extended. Please complete the form linked here by May 21st. Questions regarding the form should be directed to Liz Wessel at: or 608.204.2717.

UPDATE 4/17/2020:

Today, a Call for Presentations went out from the Chair of the Fall Workshop planning Committee, RG Absher.

Last month, PNTS Leadership made the difficult decision to cancel the Spring Workshop scheduled for May amid growing concerns of COVID-19. Our planning committee is very much aware of the coronavirus pandemic and limitations placed on travel and gatherings to protect the health and welfare of individuals and communities. We will continue to monitor this crisis very closely over the coming weeks.

I am reaching out today because we understand that you might have a topic or topics appropriate for the fall workshop to further the development of our Nationals Trails System.

Call for presentation/session proposals: At this time, our workshop planning committee is very excited to seek your proposals for presentations on October 27th, 28th, or 29th. Plan B would be to implement this workshop virtually so please note that the linked form will ask whether your presentation/session could be done virtually if the need arises.

Please complete the form linked here by May 15th 2020. The Committee plans to discuss all the proposed sessions/presentations at a meeting in late May. Questions regarding the form should be directed to Liz Wessel at: or 608.204.2717.

Please let me know if you have any questions. We look forward to receiving your proposals!

RG Absher
Chair – PNTS Fall Workshop Committee
Overmountain Victory Trail Association / 336-902-1760

UPDATE 3/20/2020:

Regrettably, we have decided by consensus among PNTS leadership and workshop leads to cancel the Partnership’s Spring National Trails Workshop scheduled for May 18-22, 2020 at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. This is highly unfortunate and yet we believe the right decision under these unusual circumstances.

We want to recognize Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, and the Spring workshop team who worked hard and produced an agenda with great vision. We know this group will do what they can to help ensure that the work and ideas are not lost in our future events.

In light of this cancellation decision, we ask you to participate in a brief survey that will help inform our future plans and assist us in considering options for:

  • Rescheduling the Spring workshop physically or virtually
  • Integrating elements of our Spring workshop vision into plans for the Fall workshop in Spartanburg, South Carolina (scheduled for October 26-30, 2020)
  • Determining what content is most important and valuable to you

Please take the survey HERE by April 13, 2020.

Click HERE for the full announcement regarding the decision to cancel the Spring Workshop. 

Fall Workshop – Spartanburg, South Carolina
October 26th – 30th, 2020

Host Trail organization: Overmountain Victory Trail Association
Contact: RG Absher,, 336.902.1760

Travel Days: October 26* & 30
*Welcome reception the evening of Mon 10/26

Workshop outcomes:

  • How to increase organization effectiveness through diverse trail partnerships – new organizations and individuals
  • Learn from successful partnerships with Native Americans to preserve culture, history, and sacred landscapes along trail corridors
  • How to create and use national trail interpretation programs as a means to reach a more diverse population of the public and students
  • How creative partnerships can put real trail on the ground
  • How to work with the local parks departments and planning agencies to leverage funds and bring additional value to and visibility in a local community
  • How the National Trails Gap Analysis can be used to focus your work
  • How to get your trail recognized in a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan

Accommodation: We will be based at the Marriott Spartanburg. We encourage participants to stay at the Marriott both for convenience but also to support the workshop planning and budgeting.

Additional information will be posted as available.
In the meantime, please send your questions to the workshop contact above.

Previous Workshops

Biennial National Historic Trails Workshop

At this biennial gathering of National Historic Trails advocates, volunteers and professionals, the workshop hones in on the issues that face the Historic Trails as they move towards completion. Interpretation, preservation of key historic sites, protection indigenous landscapes and acquiring and maintaining a contiguous trail corridor are addressed. Attend this workshop to learn more about how you can play a role in developing, protecting and preserving your favorite historic trails and how you can strengthen your trail organization.

Biennial National Scenic Trails Workshop

Scenic Trails highlight some of the country’s most spectacular natural landmarks and features. As stewards of these trails, building and maintaining these trails in some very remote locations with volunteer power presents many challenges to trail organizations. The National Scenic Trails workshop provides the opportunity to learn best practices in both physical trail building and maintenance and organizational development. Effective steward organizations have strong programs in communication, volunteer management, fundraising and leadership development. This is an opportunity to go in depth into the issues faced by trail organizations as they strive to complete and maintain the trails in these outstanding scenic corridors.