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Training and education

The National Trails Training Partnership: Working for the future of trail education

We encourage you to copy this article for use in your publication or website.

From the National Trails Training Partnership:

The challenges involved in the care and development of trails and greenways are enormous. One of these challenges is shared by all the diverse kinds of trails advocates: the need for well-trained, effective volunteers and staff. Some trail groups have relied on experienced trail builders from the federal agencies, but the old-timers are fast retiring and new people with trails skills aren't necessarily being hired. In the same way, our volunteers don't always stick around for years, and training new people is hard work in itself.

Recognizing this need across America, a wide variety of agencies and national trail organizations representing all user groups have joined together to address the issue. The National Trails Training Partnership (NTTP) is an effort by trails advocates to improve opportunities for training for the nationwide trails community. The vision of the Partnership is "to ensure that the full range of skills, training, and resource information is available to trail groups, communities, tribal governments, and State and Federal agencies."

To put it another way, our goal is to help both staff and volunteers plan, design, enhance, build, interpret, protect, and maintain trails and greenways for all Americans. Obviously this covers a lot of ground— there are vast differences in the kinds of trails people are caring for, just as our climates and topography are diverse. The skills and experience required also vary tremendously. And finally, we must address the different needs of professionals and full-time staff as well as volunteers with varying levels of commitment.

We are happy to say that the NTTP concept has progressed to the action stage. After two years of discussions among organizations and Federal and State representatives, the new Partnership has been created along with an ambitious set of tasks. A key resource was initial funding last fall from the Federal Highway Administration. FHWA administers federal dollars for trails through the Recreational Trails Program, and allocates some funds for research, publications, and efforts like the NTTP. A Steering Committee has been developed to oversee the current efforts. NTTP development, coordination, publicity and web site work is provided by American Trails in cooperation with the NTTP partners.

Tasks currently underway are:

  • Maintaining an on-line calendar of training opportunities at
  • Providing a wide range of on-line resources, hosted by American Trails
  • Developing a clearinghouse of information, trails experts, and organizations involved in workshops, classes and training
  • Publicizing opportunities for training and education on trails topics
  • Developing partnerships with parks and natural resources agencies in each state
  • Encouraging more cooperation among agencies on classes and training
  • Identifying skills and training needs not currently available

Who's behind the NTTP project?

  • Federal Agencies: the Federal Highway Administration, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Every State, through their agencies who manage Recreational Trails Program funding
  • Most national trails and recreation groups

The NTTP Steering Committee includes these national organization partners:

  • American Hiking Society
  • American Trails
  • American Motorcyclist Association
  • Back Country Horsemen of America
  • International Mountain Bicycling Association
  • Leave No Trace
  • National Association of State Trail Administrators
  • National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council
  • Partnership for the National Trails System
  • Professional Trailbuilders Association
  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Student Conservation Association
  • Tread Lightly!

Improving the availability of trail-related training is clearly a huge challenge. But across the outdoor recreation spectrum, trails advocates recognize the importance of skills and education.

We hope that you and your organization or agency will join us. Here's how:

  • Send your training calendar or news items to
  • Let us know about new publications, videos, websites, curricula, and education resources
  • Check the page for training resources in your state and tell us what to add.
  • Tell others who are interested in trails training about NTTP
  • Include this information in your newsletter and internet communications
  • Add a link to to your website; contact us for a logo link
  • Tell us about classes, workshops, or resources you'd like to see

Send calendar items and registration forms to American Trails at or call (530) 605-4395. Visit the National Trails Training Partnership website at, hosted by American Trails (

The National Trails Training Partnership
American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797(530) 605-4395Fax: (530)

The National Trails Training Partnership is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, and providers of products and services. Visit the online calendar of training opportunities, access hundreds of trail-related resources, read the news, learn how you can help, and see training resources in your state.

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement DTFH61-06-H-00023. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.

photo: trails training outdoor class

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