Trail Apprentice Spotlight – Marshall Alford

by Partnership for the National Trails System
Adapted from former Trail Apprentice submissions available at

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.  

Marshall Alford

Name: Marshall Alford

Age: 30

Current City, State: Salt Lake City, UT

Trail Apprentice Year: 2009

Biggest takeaways from TA program: Having a broader understanding and partnership engagement in trails stewardship through agency partnerships. 

How did the TA program influence your career trajectory: It was my first experience with a professional conference and revealed the variety of opportunities to make an impact in the field. I ultimately decided to pursue a job with a Federal land manager and continue to work in trails management among other recreation and land management objectives.  

What have you been doing since attending your first conference or workshop: I have worked in recreation management for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, North Carolina, New Mexico, Alaska, and most recently Utah. 

What are your future career and conservation aspirations: My current goal is continued work in recreation and resources management, and I may work toward a position as a district ranger.

What advice do you have for future Trail Apprentices: Take the time to understand the partnership mechanisms that agencies use, as well as the ways that nonprofit trail groups work with funding entities like State, county, and local governments to support projects and planning efforts. 

What is a memorable trail experience you’d like to share: I have had the pleasure of traveling some of my favorite trails on foot, horseback, and also on skis. Some of the moments I look most fondly on are when I experience something from a different perspective than the last trip out or the last season that I was on that trail. Most notably, by returning on foot, I was able to better appreciate the intricate details of my favorite bristlecone pine forest which has long since resisted the elements and effects of changes in fire return intervals. The textures and colors of these exposed wood grains and trunks remain in my mind years later and I think of it as one of the most special places I have had the fortune to visit.

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.