Trail Apprentice Spotlight: Lauren Murray

By: Partnership for the National Trails System, adapted from former Trail Apprentice submissions

It’s been 10 years since the Partnership for the National Trails System first offered Trail Apprentice (TA) scholarships, funded by multiple Federal agencies, to young adults. We caught up with some members of the 2009 class to find out how this opportunity helped shape their careers.  

Lauren Murray

Name: Lauren Murray

Age: 30

Current City, State: Helena, MT

Trail Apprentice Year(s): 2009, 2011

Biggest takeaways from TA program: That it would be awesome to one day work with the wacky trail folks. I was also inspired to see how I could use my environmental history degree to do something I love and care for deeply.

How did the TA program influence your career trajectory: After my initial apprenticeship in 2009, I changed the focus of my undergraduate degree and also added an environmental affairs certificate. It also helped me land my first job.  

What have you been doing since attending your first conference or workshop: After graduating, I worked in Yosemite National Park for a couple of years and then bounced to the private sector for some time. After saving and planning (a lot), my husband and I quit our jobs for a year and traveled the entire U.S. and parts of Canada, which was one of the best experiences of my life. We made it a point to explore trails everywhere we went and to see the remote parts of our beautiful country that we might never have time to explore again. After we stopped traveling I went back to the private sector and became heavily involved with a local community garden (and served on the Board of Directors) as well as a mountain bike group doing trail work on the local trails. Still, something felt like it was missing in my day-to-day. I was fortunate in late 2017 to see a posting for a Development Program Manager position with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and I took a leap of faith and went for it. Fortunately, I was offered the position and have since been working for CDTC! It’s been an amazing experience to work for something I care deeply about, and more importantly to work with other amazingly talented, intelligent, and passionate people toward a great mission.

What are your future career and conservation aspirations: I hope to stay with CDTC for quite some time and always envision myself in a similar role working with environmental nonprofit organizations. I also have ambitions to travel again, so we’ll see how the future unfolds!

What is a memorable trail experience you’d like to share: We took our dog along for a bike ride on a trails system in Florida, and at one point he wanted to run down to the water for a drink. We heard a rustle and saw an eight-foot alligator swimming away. He was a lucky pup that day!

The Trail Apprentice group that attended the first conference in 2009 in Missoula, Montana. More than a hundred youths have participated since. (Photo courtesy PNTS)

Where Are They Now?

The Partnership for the National Trails System is in the process of interviewing former Trail Apprentices to share “Where Are They Now” profiles in our quarterly magazine, Pathways Across America, and on our website, We encourage you to fill out this form and include a recent headshot. Questions may be directed to Samantha Haas, PNTS Communications Coordinator, at Responses may be edited for length or clarity. Submitting a response does not guarantee publication. Thank you!

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in Pathways Across America is public domain. All views expressed herein are perspectives of individuals working on behalf of the National Trails System and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Federal agencies.