Volunteer Leadership Academy
This is a flagship training for A.T. volunteers that convenes volunteer leaders, and aspiring leaders, from all 14 states to deepen their work with this essential public resource.
Traditionally held in person, but adapted to an online format in the wake of COVID-19, trainings available to volunteer leaders are designed to focus on operational best-practices for volunteer management, safe field operations, and fundamentals in A.T. Cooperative Management.
Supported by the NPS Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Academy is intended for leaders within A.T. Clubs, A.T. Communities, affinity groups and key partners, or anyone else who wants to deepen their understanding of the management of the Appalachian Trail.
The aim for the Volunteer Leadership Academy is to have “tracks” of learning based on topics of interest or areas of expressed need. The online sessions will create opportunities for network capacity building by sharing knowledge, practicing skills, and through a collaborative learning environment. The intent of this virtual academy is to translate concepts into meaningful experiences with real-world application for group leaders.
For all VLA participants, the Introduction to Cooperative Management Training video is encouraged as a prerequisite foundation to any other course work.
Discover Volunteer Leadership Academy Courses in each of the topic areas below.
Engaging New People
Discover how justice, equity, diversity and inclusion fit in trail management. Learn about how to apply resources for engaging new people. Get best practices in social media and welcoming new folks.
After conducting listening sessions with club leaders, ATC looked for trends in the conversations. Outreach was the most prevalent obstacle mentioned, and one of the largest perceived challenges. Based on this need, ATC developed this track with the following sessions, at 6pm:
JEDI: What is Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion? on October 5
JEDI: Revealing relevant history of the U.S. and A.T. for context of JEDI work on November 2
Preparing to put JEDI into Action: Step 1 on December 7
New Ways to Engage: Affinity Groups on January 4, 2021
New Ways to Engage: Next Generation Advisory Council on February 1, 2021
Best Practices: Welcoming New Attendees on March 1, 2021
Best Practices: Social Media and Raising Public Awareness on April 5, 2021
This series is primarily intended for, but not exclusively offered to A.T. Club and A.T. Community leaders. Anyone may register to participate.
Based on recent listening session studies and other research, one of the most common obstacles faced by volunteer leaders in A.T. clubs are the challenges associated with the operational management.
A.T. Cooperative Management & Project Leadership
There are two learning pathways under this topic:
The A.T. Cooperative Management sequence occurs over three sessions. These workshops center on the fundamental understanding all volunteers and volunteer leaders within A.T. clubs should have on the essential principles of A.T. management. The 3 sessions on Cooperative Management are a pre-requisite to the Volunteer and Project Leadership sequence of courses that follow.
Volunteers with existing exposure to A.T. Cooperative Management fundamentals of the first three courses below may just register for the final three sessions in the series by registering using the registration link below. Volunteer and Project Leadership is intended for Trail Supervisors and A.T. Club Presidents, as well as people aspiring to those roles.
Or, select to participate in just one sequence.
- Intro to Cooperative Management (September 24)
- Essential Agreements for Trail Management (October 22)
- Managing Beyond Trail Maintenance: Natural Resource Priorities, Understanding Advocacy, Discovering the Wild East Network, New Partnerships and People (January 21)
For club leaders, managing the Trail includes volunteer and project leadership. This sequence is a deep dive into planning, on the ground and one on one management. Volunteer and Project Leadership is intended for Trail Supervisors and A.T. Club Presidents, as well as people aspiring to those roles.
- Volunteer Management Responsibilities (February 18)
- Field Leadership Essentials (March 18)
- Trail Project Funding and Approvals (April 15)
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
What’s my time commitment?
Every workshop will last between an hour and an hour and a half. Most are scheduled for weekday evenings. Advanced reading or video viewing may be necessary in order to promote active discussion and participation during a given session.
The Engaging New People Track is 7 months and the A.T. Cooperative Management, Volunteer & Project Leadership Track is 6 months. Options may be available to register for just a sequence within a track, as is available in A.T. Cooperative Management, Volunteer and Project Leadership.
Organizational Leadership is different. The first session is 3.5 hours on a Saturday, and the subsequent cohort meetings will be determined by the members as a group.
Who is this for?
The tracks are intended for leaders (current and emerging) within A.T. Clubs, A.T. Communities, affinity groups and key partners. While designed for these audiences other volunteers with interest in the care of the A.T. are welcome to register to attend.
Any new club leaders or community should sign up for the A.T. Cooperative Management System. Volunteer and Project Management sequence is designed for field leaders and club presidents.
Who should attend?
Clubs are specifically requested to send at least one person in each category:
1. A current or emerging club leader (a club president or soon-to-be-president, etc).
2. A field leader for the club’s A.T. management work.
The online nature of the Leadership Academy means that more participants from each club are welcome. If you know of others from within your organization who would have interest in participating, please send them here and encourage them to sign up for a track (or more!) of interest.
Will sessions be recorded if I can’t participate when a course is hosted?
Think of each topic track as a college course, where your active participation provides the greatest benefit to you and to others.
What will I get out of this?
Towards the end of March and into late July, ATC’s Volunteer Relations Department hosted a total of 78 individual interviews with A.T. volunteers.
A few major themes from this report include a need to strengthen club operational management and outreach. Findings also suggest that there is a substantial amount of existing strengths in these same obstacles. This highlights the variety of club circumstances and the fact that there is never a one-size fits all answer. The information gathered is a benchmark to chart our collective course forward and a springboard for greater network support in the form of training and shared resources.
Focused on creating opportunities for network capacity building by sharing knowledge, practicing skills and through a collaborative learning environment, the intent of this virtual academy is translation into meaningful experiences with real-world application for group leaders.