The Appalachian Trail taught Kayla Carter the difference between trail users and trail maintainers. She says, “Too often I hiked along a trail unaware of those that came before or those who would come after me.” Her awareness heightened during her 2014 northbound A.T. thru-hike, and she began wondering who had made the trail she was hiking.
When she reached her home state of Tennessee, she met Bob Peoples, who invited her to join the Hardcore Kincora trail crew, and she made a commitment to be both a trail user and a maintainer. In 2015, she volunteered with Hardcore and with ATC’s S.W.E.A.T crew.
Kayla serves on ATC’s Next Generation Advisory Council, which provides advice and input to ATC on programs, policies, and making the Trail community more open and approachable to all. She has lent her time and expertise to us on a variety of initiatives, including helping with Family Hiking Day planning, leading listening sessions, and representing ATC at community events.
In August, Kayla participated in ATC’s 2016 Volunteer Leadership meeting, where she met and began building a relationship with leaders from the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC).
Kayla now maintains a Trail section for TEHCC and is working with the club on ways to recruit and retain a younger generation of volunteer stewards. “I hope to share that sense of responsibility with my generation and the next,” she says. “Volunteering is worthwhile because it provides task accomplishment, a sense of ownership, and a chance to make new friends.”
Kayla is passionate about sharing the incredible natural resources of east Tennessee—areas like the Roan Highlands, Laurel Fork Falls, and the Pond Mountain Wilderness—and she has been selected as the tourism coordinator for Carter County.
She also served on the advisory committee for Roan Mountain’s application to become an A.T. Community™. That application was approved in October, and the community will have a designation ceremony in 2017. Kayla will continue to serve on the A.T. Community committee for Roan Mountain.
Kayla offers this advice, “Always remember that you have the power to change the world you live in every day. The power lies in volunteering for causes and initiatives you love.”