Environmental stewardship is central to PEC’s work, so it’s no surprise that we recently found ourselves co-hosting a stewardship webinar attended by people from 24 states and three Canadian provinces.
The webinar, titled Protect What You Love: Water Trail Ambassador and Stewardship Programs, had 78 registrants – people looking to learn from best practices from coast to coast. I kicked the session off by highlighting 11 innovative programs around Pennsylvania and other states. We also featured speakers from the Maine Island Trail Association and the South Yuba River Citizens League in California.
So how did PEC find itself at the center of organizing a webinar attended by river people from around North America? I like to think it was a matter of creative problem solving and leveraging resources. As manager of the statewide PA Water Trail Program, PEC originally set out to train designated PA water trails on stewardship and ambassador programs.
This made sense, after all, because PEC’s southeast office launched the Tidal Delaware River Ambassadors program in 2012. A lot of water trail sponsors struggle with how to effectively train and engage volunteers in stewarding, so we wanted to share what PEC has done and what we know of other nearby programs.
But then we thought, why prepare a webinar for a limited audience of PA trail managers? That way, we could let this knowledge spill over state lines and reach trail advocates wherever they may be. And so we partnered with national nonprofit American Trails.
As a board member of American Trails, I was already aware of its “Advancing Trail Development” webinar series. This ongoing educational series started in Pennsylvania (more or less) when I was a 2011 speaker on the first webinar: Making the Case for Trails in Tough Economic Times. Twenty two webinars later, we found ourselves partnering with American Trails on stewardship. There were so many wins in this partnership.
We were able to:
- Tag onto an established well-oiled webinar series
- Introduce PA trail managers to programs around the country
- Introduce people around the U.S. and Canada to programs right here in Pennsylvania as well as to the successful PA Water Trail Program (we now have over 2,000 miles of designated water trail)
- Raise the profile of American Trails and help it with revenue generation. This matters because American Trails represents all trail interests and does so much great work in terms of trail policy and education. We helped to support an organization that helps to support so many of us.
I’d like to offer a special thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR). The PA Water Trail Program is funded through a DCNR grant, and the grant funds enabled designated PA trail managers to attend the webinar at no cost (while all other attendees paid the standard fee).
This and all American Trails webinars are recorded. If you missed it and would like to hear the recording, click here. To stay up to date on PA water trail news, like us at www.facebook.com/pawatertrails.
Photo credit: Paddle Without Pollution