by Sara Haxby
REI Funds ATC Stewardship Projects
Making it Easier to Volunteer: REI, a longstanding supporter of ATC, offered support in 2018 and 2019 for ATC’s Volunteer Engagement Platform, designed to make connections between people with interest and available volunteer opportunities. Visitors to appalachiantrail.org/volunteer can see not just the upcoming events but can sign-up in a jiffy. Volunteer coordinators across the nation know that easy sign-ups and automated reminders help people contribute in big ways. ATC is proud to serve as a clearinghouse for club-led volunteer activities, as we elevate and celebrate all the ways volunteers make the experience of the Trail possible. To add your A.T. volunteer events to the calendar, email Alivia Acosta at [email protected]achiantrail.org.
The Volunteer Engagement Platform is primarily used to promote events, but ATC is using it to ease volunteer management and accomplishment tracking for ATC crews, too. Similarly, the Nantahala Hiking Club is piloting the program for use at a club level. They deserve a big shout-out for adopting the database for all of their reporting this federal fiscal year! Because every activity on the A.T. was entered and reported on during the year, on October 1 ATC staff will run a couple reports for the club to share with their Forest Service districts. The reports are designed to deliver just what our federal partners ask for – if the data is in the system, the work is already done.
Ladder of Engagement: The local store in Asheville, N.C. is supporting a Youth Summit, intended to bring young people to the A.T. for exploration, an opportunity for service, and to inspire the A.T. “bug” that cultivates a lifetime of passion and care for the Trail. Their support is also helping ATC and local clubs host Wild East Women’s Work Days. These shared-identity events provide the opportunities for a traditionally under-represented group of folks to gain skills and confidence that we hope will return again and again to the Trail.
Visitor Education: Local support from REI in Georgia supported a project to install kiosks with up-to-date Trail information. The hope is to improve the information visitors take-away, so that they can Leave No Trace.
Stores in the Greater DC area supported the Flip-Flop Festival, an event that highlights the alternative-routes of flip-floppers as a responsible way to hike and lesson Trail impacts.
Supporting Treadway Improvements: Local stores support myriad A.T. projects, from Trail relocations to treadway rehab, or exotic-invasive plant removal project to retain original ecosystem integrity.
Likewise, ATC is happy to offer workshops on How to Hike the A.T. at REI locations as we share in our commitment to the Trail, its stewardship, and its enjoyment.