Trail University Honored with NJ Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence

December 11, 2014
Peter Dolan
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Trail University Honored with NJ Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence


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Trail Conference’s Trail University develops hands-on support for park system


Trail U offers instruction in how to handle tools and build trail featuresMAHWAH, NJ: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference was named winner of the 2014 New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in the Environmental Education (Adult-led) category for its Trail University program.  The award was presented by the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection.

The Trail Conference is a nonprofit group, headquartered in Mahwah, with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs, bringing together more than 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people. Since 1920, the Trail Conference has created, protected, and promoted a network of 2,000 miles of public trails. It organizes volunteer service projects to keep these trails open, safe and enjoyable.

“Many New Jersey state parks and forests rely on Trail Conference volunteers to keep trails maintained, well-marked and safe for public access, in addition to reducing erosion and protecting sensitive habitats and aquatic areas,” DEP noted in its award announcement.

The NY-NJ Trail Conference’s recently established “Trail University” program is designed to improve the quality of public trails by increasing the trail-related knowledge, understanding and skill base of its volunteers, staff and partners. The workshops, many of them free, open to the public, and located at parks in or near Bergen County, are taught by professionals and experienced volunteers, with topics ranging from trail building and maintenance to shelter caretaking and stone splitting.

In the 12 months from September  2013 to September 2014 (most recent updated period), 263 Trail University attendees contributed 1,132 hours of service in the state of New Jersey, over the course of 32 classes. Though the numbers for 2014 have not yet been processed, in 2013 Trail Conference volunteers donated a combined total of 16,979 hours to benefiting New Jersey’s public lands. Volunteers recruited through Trail University help maintain more than 678 miles of hiking trails in New Jersey.

Trail University workshops often focus on improving existing trails by reducing erosion, keeping sediment out of sensitive watersheds and reservoirs, and keeping hikers and recreationalists on a well-defined path to minimize damage caused by wandering off-trail.

The 15th annual awards program was co-sponsored by DEP and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology (NJCAT), in partnership with the State League of Municipalities.

Learn more about Trail University, including the schedule of upcoming offerings, at