From the Executive Director: It Takes a Team to Support Our Mission

January 08, 2021
Joshua Howard
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


From the Executive Director: It Takes a Team to Support Our Mission
Catskill Hike. Photo by Joshua Howard.


This is the season of hope and optimism. The promise of a fresh start and the chance of doing better in the new year. However, hope is not a strategy, and as we look to 2021, I am excited the Trail Conference has more than just hope for being a successful and impactful organization. 

The work we do is difficult.  With more than 75 partners and new requirements put in place by each of them, it takes a dedicated team of individuals to keep the 2,000 individuals who volunteer with us supported and productive.   

Our staff fills the gaps between our volunteer leaders, Conservation Corps members, and partners to make our plans a reality.  They are the catalyst for so many successes, whether it is coordinating the purchase of tools and materials for a trail project or securing permissions from land managers for the removal of invasive species.  Together with our volunteers, they form an amazing team.    

With record numbers of people turning to the outdoors for wellness and an escape from being stuck indoors, our team will need to be more efficient and better coordinated.   

The parks we cherish and the trails and natural areas throughout them rely on our volunteers—people who selflessly give their time and energy to protect our trails… for strangers. You can help recognize some of these amazing volunteers by nominating someone for their incredible dedication to our mission. Read about our volunteer awards.  

The Trail Conference will continue to be the guardians of these special places. We will stay vigilant in our efforts to ensure that our friends, neighbors, and loved ones all have a place to go, all have a trail to walk, and all have the ability to enjoy nature.   

Our people are the hope and optimism that drive our organization. We are the sum of our parts: a college graduate making a 900-hour service commitment to our Conservation Corps; a newly retired professor who loves the Catskills and volunteers to oversee our lean-to program; a Ph.D. who leads our Ecological Stewardship program.  It takes everyone in our organization working together for the common good of our trails and the lands the cross to make our plans a reality in 2021.  

As you explore this Trail Walker and read about our efforts and plans, I hope you get excited for your own plans outdoors. The care we put into trails and parks and the impact our work has on your trail experiences are on our minds in all we do.