by Alivia Acosta

Hosting a National Public Lands Day

On September 28, 2019 thousands of volunteers will be flocking to their favorite public lands in celebration of National Public Lands Day (NPLD). There is no doubt that the Appalachian Trail is among the nation’s most beloved national resources, so why shouldn’t we celebrate this crown jewel of the Wild East?

Ideas for A.T. Clubs

Plan a Service Event: While volunteers maintain the Trail on a daily basis, NPLD is a great way to spread the word about volunteer stewardship of the Appalachian Trail. Events may vary in size and could be anything from habitat/historic restorations, trash/invasive removal, trail maintenance, or any other project suitable for introducing new people to volunteering.

A major barrier that prevents potential volunteers from participating in events is time commitments. To help attract a variety of participants, consider hosting an event that is approximately four-hours long. If possible, provide snacks for volunteers as a way to thank them for their help. Promoting your event with the right tools will also help attract more volunteers.

Host an A.T. Family Hiking Day Event: First launched in conjunction with NPLD in 2011, this kind of event is intended to introduce families to outdoor recreation under the guidance of skilled trip leaders. ATC requests that all trip leaders for Family Hiking Day events take the Youth Protection Training. Resources for planning a successful event include having some hiking games and activities handy to engage people in the landscape.

The good news for clubs is that it doesn’t need to be either service or a family hike. If a club has the capacity and interest to hold both, there could be some great benefit to a combined picnic at the end where participants of each group can hear about others’ experiences.

Ideas for A.T. Communities

Plan National Public Lands educational events: Hold one event or a week’s worth of talks or activities on topics of conservation, recreation, and the Appalachian Trail.

Partner to Promote: If your local club is hosting a day of service or a Family Hiking Day event, partner on the promotion by adding it to your community calendars and tourism websites.

Mobilize Businesses: Discounts for NPLD day-of-service may be nice incentives that businesses can offer volunteers who show up to discover public lands stewardship, and is a great way for the community to recognize the value public lands play to the local economy.

Tips for planning your NPLD Event(s)
Registering your event with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), a non-profit organization that coordinates this day or service. Doing so comes with the added benefit of being publicized alongside the nation’s largest one-day volunteer event for public lands.

Send your event details to so it can be posted to ATC’s website and through its social media channels to help support event registration.

Consult NEEF’s Site Manager Promotional Toolkit. NEEF suggests you start by staying connected and following their NPLD channel on Facebook and Twitter.