Rose, Bud, Thorn: Growing from the Lessons of 2020-21

Executive Director’s Report:

As the soft fuzz and bright blooms of Spring cover the Mid-Atlantic, the change of seasons harkens the end of what seemed to be a particularly long winter—one that kept us distanced from one another due to the lingering pandemic.

It’s said that change is the only constant in life. The validity of that statement has been shown to us time and again over the last year. For Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS), like so many other workplaces and organizations, it has meant re-envisioning what we do and how we accomplish our work.

During our Trail Apprentices program, we’ve used a reflection at the end of sessions called “rose-thorn-bud”. Based on the activity of the day, program participants identify a ‘rose’ (a highlight, success, or something positive that happened), a ‘thorn’ (a challenge experienced or an area where more attention is needed), and a ‘bud’ (a new idea or opportunity).

In March 2021, PNTS and its long-time partner, American Hiking Society, led the 24th annual Hike the Hill®, this year as a virtual event. While nothing will replace the valuable face-to-face interactions that occur during agency and Congressional meetings (thorn), participants enjoyed a number of enlightening and beneficial meetings, and the online format allowed us to attract a greater breadth of experts to lead topical briefings using an online format that proved to help advocates better prepare for their meetings (rose). Without the remote event, we may have never learned how much we could augment the in-person event with online, pre-event briefings (bud).

This Spring brings several additional “buds” to PNTS. From a System-wide perspective, we heard a renewed enthusiasm for trails with long-time partners and new agency representatives noting the unique potential for National Trails to advance key initiatives for climate resilience and local economies. Within our organization, we are building our team with the addition of three staff members after relocating from Wisconsin to Washington DC during the latter half of 2020. And, as we work to increase our capacity to better support our members and the National Trails System, we’re forming new partnerships with businesses, including one with The Trek that you will read about in this issue.

At PNTS, we’re embracing the continued change and looking forward to growing these and other ‘buds’ into ‘roses’ for the National Trails System.

Yours in partnership,

Valerie Rupp
Executive Director
Partnership for the National Trails System