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broader relevancy

Engage with and connect the A.T. and the ATC to a younger and more diverse audience and broaden the understanding of the physical and mental benefits the Trail provides to a variety of users.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

A Trail for a Sustainable Future as a Multicultural Organization

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC) mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.  We are committed to nurture and protect this sacred space through education and inspiration. We strive to create an ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers, and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision is to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy.

In order to realize that vision, Broader Relevancy strives to incorporate groups that are underrepresented among ATC staff, AT visitors, and ATC constituents. The focus on "ever-expanding community" and "for all to enjoy" also explains why Broader Relevancy's focus is on outreach.

To fulfill this aggressive mission, it is essential that the ATC engage the full spectrum of society to address the protection of its expansive landscape and ensure the efficacy to enhance long-term ecological connectivity in the face of the growing impacts of climate change, population growth, energy development, and other threats. We must be a welcoming, multicultural organization in order to fulfill our mission.

Why is this important to the future of the Appalachian Trail?

The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.  Achieving this mission, and conserving the Trail (its corridor, the natural resources within it, and the ecosystem services it provides for millions) for the longterm is a significant challenge facing us, one that requires a fundamental shift in thinking and actions addressing social, economic and ecological systems. To address this challenge we must engage the full spectrum of society to address the protection of its expansive landscape and ensure the efficacy to enhance long-term ecological connectivity in the face of the growing impacts of climate change, population growth, energy development, and other threats. We must be a welcoming, multicultural organization in order to fulfill our mission.
Allison Williams

Statement of ​Intent

The basic principles of ecology, physics, and biology demonstrate that diversity in an ecosystem, organism, or organization creates great strength and resilience. Our aspiration is that, in creating a culture of diversity, and inclusion, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will cultivate greater strength and resilience within and beyond the organization as we work to manage and protect while providing access to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail for all people across the world.

The definitions below are aimed at articulating ATC’s commitment and rationale for why Broader Relevancy is one of our Strategic Plan priorities.

Diversity is a core value of ATC.

Diversity defined for the ATC:
Diversity represents the practice of actively incorporating people of different backgrounds, perspectives, thoughts and beliefs.

Organizational Culture and Rationale:
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our mission is best supported by the leadership and contributions of individuals of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects this value is a priority. We seek to attract and retain high performing applicants from all backgrounds and experiences to a workplace where differences are respected and valued.

What is Equity:
Equity guarantees fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented access to the Trail and participation in its recreation and stewardship of some groups.

"The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist quality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups."
-UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, & Diversity

Strategic Plan Goal: Broader Relevancy

I. Outcome: Stewardship of the A.T. is increased through connecting young and diverse audiences through outdoor recreation, volunteerism, education, employment and philanthropic support.

Strategies:

  1. Collect research, assess existing programs, and engage partners to understand the barriers to involvement by youth with the A.T. and the ATC.
  2. Identify and share successful models and best practices and begin pilot projects.
  3. Develop and implement a diversity plan to assure ATC staff and volunteer training, hiring, and volunteer recruitment practices advance diversity goals.
  4. New and existing initiatives are prioritized and promoted in alignment with the values and interests of diverse and young audiences.

II. Outcome: The physical and mental benefits derived from hiking and volunteering along the A.T. as well as from the enjoyment of the beauty of the Trail by people who do not hike but care about the Trail are emphasized.

Strategies:

  1. Create partnerships with other organizations that have expertise in the field of physical and mental health.
  2. Collaborate with Trail communities and schools on opportunities for enhancing physical and mental well‐being through hiking and volunteering along the A.T.
  3. Develop a plan to promote the physical and mental well‐being benefits of A.T. hiking and to promote the physical beauty of the Trail to non‐hikers.

Objectives for 2016

- Create new Next Generation Advisory Council of young, diverse leaders to provide input on policies, campaigns, and strategies in order to safeguard the Trail’s future as a recreational, environmental, historical, and wellness asset for the world.

- Create the Conservation Leadership Corps, a pilot pipeline/pathway program focused on providing the hard skills, valuable certifications, professional development, and work experience to young people (18– 25 years old) new to the outdoors by developing their natural resource management skills and professional network so they may compete effectively for conservation jobs. We are partnering with Groundworks, USA for recruitment and program development.

- Provide diversity training for all ATC staff, and youth development/risk management training for staff working with youth.

- Create and share recruitment and hiring practices.

- Communicate definitions, new EEO statement, and intentions to partners and volunteer clubs.

- Create a platform for sharing the mental and physical benefits of hiking through the support of two paid interns.

- Facilitate listening sessions/focus groups with new audiences to gain a better understanding of needs, barriers, and value propositions.

- Provide best practices to clubs at the Volunteer Leadership Meeting

Tony Richardson on the AT in Shenandoah

Accomplishments in 2015

After much assessment in 2015 — including focus groups with educators and staff, interviews with the ATC’s leadership, surveys, and listening sessions with Trail clubs — the ATC is poised to move forward with its Broader Relevancy action plan that will create opportunities for stronger connections with diverse audiences and develop and form key local, regional, and national partnerships for recruiting a younger and more inclusive population to the A.T. and its management and protection.

We launched the Next Generation Advisory Council, which gives 15 young, diverse leaders a voice in our cooperative management system. We also created skill training and professional development programs such as the new Conservation Leadership Corps, a career pathway for young adults (18 to 25) providing a 10-week paid internship and participation in our seasonal programs.

We also continued to host a Trail to Every Classroom (TTEC). In 2015, TTEC expanded and invigorated the strong network of teachers from Georgia to Maine who use the A.T. as a resource to educate and inspire the next generation of public land stewards. We brought aboard 34 enthusiastic and talented new educators, joining a network of over 323 trained educators who are already implementing TTEC curriculum with their students.