The PNTS Trail Apprentice Program – an amazing opportunity

In November 2013, I was fortunate to attend the Partnership for the National Trails System conference in Tucson, Ariz., as one of 15 Trail Apprentices. “Since its inception in 2009,” explains PNTS board member and Trail Apprentice Coordinator, Teresa Martinez, “the PNTS Trail Apprentice Program has brought over 65 young professionals to PNTS events. The success of the program has been the engagement of young professionals that has continued to grow and evolve with the needs of not only our participants in the scholarship program, but the ever-growing understanding of what the future needs of our resources will be.”

As the youngest attendees at the conference, the 18- to 25-year-old apprentices represented the future of conservation leaders and were focused on discovering ways to involve new generations of public land protectors. We met leaders of National Scenic and Historic Trails and learned about partnerships with federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. In addition to attending presentations by representatives of the trails, apprentices were encouraged to envision future careers in conservation and to network with trail professionals.

Throughout the conference, a former apprentice, Levi Davis, captured the experience of the 2013 apprentices through video interviews, which he compiled into a 15 minute documentary. The video contains apprentices’ opinions about the conference and about the future of trails and conservation. It’s worth a look to see what rising conservation leaders hope to accomplish in coming years.


Author: Korbi Thalhammer

Korbi is a long-time volunteer with the Pacific Crest Trail Association. He’s currently working in our Sacramento office between high school and a summer 2014 thru-hike of the PCT. He coordinated PCT maintenance through his high school and has travelled multiple times to Washington D.C. to advocate for congressional support for the trail.