Broader Relevancy Icon

broader relevancy

ATC will engage and connect to a younger more inclusive audience and broaden the understanding of the physical and mental benefits provided by the Trail, cultivating the next generation of people who value and steward the Trail.

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.

ATC 2018 ACTION PLAN

ATC will engage and connect to a younger and more inclusive audience, broaden the understanding of the physical and mental benefits provided by the Trail, and cultivate the next generation to value and steward the Trail. As a mostly white, older organization this is a challenging goal. But we are slowly making progress.

In 2017, we piloted a second year of the Conservation Leadership Corps and received significant funding from the U.S. Forest Service for this work. To scale the program, we will take time in 2018 to work with a core partner, Groundwork USA, to plan and fundraise to bring their largely urban based teams to the A.T. for hands on training at several sites across the Trail.

Our other successful engagement with youth included hosting two youth summits and building youth stewardship coalitions, one in Maine one in western Massachusetts, and a third coalition of the Children's Forest Network of Northern Georgia. This tactic works with local youth organizations and educators to encourage more youth to work on local trails by providing skill development opportunities, stewardship events, and fostering connections with volunteer and professional trail organizations. We will continue to grow these coalitions and explore expanding into new areas with new partners.

We also focused on relationships with new organizations such as Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, Student Conservation Association, Groundwork USA. We are expanding our toolbox by investigating how to use affinity groups to engage new audiences. And we nurtured our Next Generation Advisory Council members who contributed new ideas and time to ATC, joining us at the Biennial meeting in Maine, Hike the Hill, and at many regional meetings. Their presence and fresh ideas feel like shifting winds. It’s time to catch the sails!

In 2018, we will manage contracts for active youth A.T. trail crews administered by partner organizations such as Student Conservation Association, Greenagers, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, and Maine Conservation Corps. As ATC moves into this new role we will be better positioned to engage youth corps members directly, sharing information about the A.T, ATC, and enlisting members to continue their engagement with the A.T. We’ll capture their stories and support crew recruitment to reach new, diverse audiences. 

We will also launch two campaigns this year to emphasize 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. We have initiated a partnership with Positive Tracks, an organization that helps youth to engage in making a difference by raising funds and awareness for organizations through athletic events. We will also create a new MyATStory through a veteran’s perspective.

2018 Benchmarks:

  • Host 3 youth summits – 2 in Maine, 1 in Massachusetts and scale the program for continued and expanded engagement. 
  • Develop plan and funding to expand the Conservation Leadership Corps with Groundwork USA.
  • Create a campaign with Positive Tracks for youth to lead and share physical and mental benefits of the Trail.
  • Create and share MyATStory to highlight mental benefits of the Trail through a veteran story.
  • Connect with at least 5 volunteer affinity group leaders to foster connections to the Trail and ATC.