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Training and education

February 21-22, 2007 NTTP Meeting Notes

Minutes of National Trails Training Partnership, February 21-22, 2007
Salt Lake City - Bureau of Land Management Office

Attendees:

  • Patti Klein, Bureau of Land Management
  • Dana Bell, National Off-HIghway Vehicle Conservation Council
  • Walt Horner, Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative
  • Pam Gluck, American Trails
  • Stuart Macdonald, National Trail Administrators
  • Christopher Douwes, Federal Highway Administration
  • Steve Elkinton, National Park Service
  • Scott Linnenburger, International Mountain Bicycling Assoc.
  • Monica Clay, Tread Lightly!
  • Mary Van Buren, Tread Lightly!

By teleconference:

  • Jonathan LeClere, FHWA
  • Jamie Schwartz, USDA Forest Service

Introductions and reports on training activities

Pam Gluck reviewed Visioning Session results from June 12, 2006 meeting in Washington, DC. These are the goals and objectives from the visioning which we are following up on at this meeting:

  • Reach agreement on what has been most effective of NTTP
  • Identify which specific tasks partners are willing to do; e.g. include NTTP on website
  • What are most important things not done
  • Most effective way of using NTTP to meet own goals
  • Best way to communicate with national
  • Plan for coming year with goals and tasks
  • Identify specific project ; e.g. class for training

Presentation on NTTP goals, accomplishments, and future work (Stuart Macdonald)

There was agreement on the goals for NTTP as stated in the presentation:

  • Encourage cooperation on training efforts
  • Develop a clearinghouse of training and resources at www.TrailsTraining.net
  • Identify needs and gaps in existing training
  • Promote research to improve trails education
  • Facilitate training needed
  • Promote models for statewide training (e.g. COTI)
  • Help States bring training to local project sponsors

UPDATES from partner organizations

IMBA — Finalizing book on managing mountain biking. Will be companion to trailbuilding curriculum. Should be available by end of March. Doing training for regional groups who don't typically get trainng, such as ski areas. Supporting Capilano College "Managing Mountain Bikes" curriculum and hope to promote in the US as well. A few colleges buy the IMBA Trail Solutions book to teach classes from.

Tread Lightly! — Three trainings scheduled this spring. Will be piloting new form of the Master Course in Fruita, CO. Online course is up and available. By April will have hats to give away for people who complete the online course. TL has a new website with links to the course. Will be able to track how many people have taken the course. At least 200 so far. Used a Salt Lake City company to do the online version and were happy with the cost and results.

FHWA — Have been funding several courses and publications in the trails community. Check links to NEPA process, new historical and cultural resources course. Making links available on FHWA website to many kinds of training. Sending frequent news items to States and agencies to see training resources on NTTP.

NPS — Park Service funding for training is down, but in the long run there is commitment to funding through "Centennial Challenge." Direction to increase interpretive efforts. Hugh Duffy, expert in high elevation trails, is doing new version of book for landscape architects on care and rehab of trails. Hope to help get that published, and include NTTP name if possible.

NOHVCC — New workshops on USFS Travel Management rule. Involving the public in the process. Teaching how agencies work, how to get the designations done, and how to benefit OHV recreation. There are 16 workshops scheduled this year, funded by MIC. See website to request bringing the workshop to your state. Taking Adventure Trail program to 13-19 year olds.

USFS — Working with BLM to put on "Trails 101" Interagency Trail Management Course. Individual training in regions but specific for USFS agency staff. Budget restricting travel and training

American Trails — Created a big display banner for NTTP. New flyer for website resources, UTAP, and COTI Case Study. Making several training programs available to States and others:

- Understanding Accessibility and Building Better Trails workshops

- UTAP and TrailWare Workshops

- Working with Developers Forum

- Creating a State Trails Training Program workshop with COTI

Next National Trails Symposium will be in Little Rock, AR, Nov. 15-18, 2008.

BLM - Trail Management Course will be run with US Fish & Wildlife Service training program in the east in September. USFWS will continue to offer it in the eastern US. BLM will cease funding and management for the course in the west. o Ann Hill will retire in March 2007 will be moving to Detroit, will be seeking government work.

Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative - Update from Walt Horner, COTI Executive Director:

COTI's focus is on instructor training: "train the trainer" efforts. Training needs were identified in 2006 for COTI by priority:

1. Noxious Weed Control

2. Trail Maintenance

3. Project Design and Management Assistance

4. Volunteers expressed interest in training for trail maintenance, weed eradication, and project planning and design.

Four new courses are being developed:

- Weed Management: one day training for volunteers and staff

- Trail Skills Workshops: menu of skill-based training modules focusing on trail construction and maintenance topics

- Conservation Project Management: two days;

- Sustainable Mountain Trails: assessment, planning, and design - two days; uses Hugh Duffy's workbook as the basis for the course

Training Calendar:

- 25 trainings scheduled across Colorado on Crew Leadership for trails, Crew Leadership for Ecological Restoration, Chainsaw Training, Conservation Project Leadership, Instructor Training

- two pilot workshops for each new training program

- see www.cotionlilne.org and www.voutdoorsw.org

New Certification Program: last year piloted a certification program for crew leaders as well as instructors. Open to all attendees of COTI training programs. Must complete involved process with testing, field experience, and evaluation and performance review. Certification is good for two years. Goal for 2007 is to offer certification to 75-100 individuals. Land managers want to use people with the certification. Need is to convince the workers that they should get certified.

Packaging and promoting the "COTI Model" in cooperation with American Trails and NTTP:

- Program designed for States and large trail organization.

- Develop and train pool of instructors

- Assist with Trail Crew Leader training

- Provide ongoing support and additional training opportunities

Currently piloting program with Colorado State Parks for $15,000 contract. Piloting some of the new courses as well. Believe it will be fairly easy to implement by including State Parks staff who are already instructors. Issue is how to promote the program effectively. Some volunteers could be funded to do additional training. Need to work with States to help them see how this could be effectively done in involving local trail organizations, parks, and agencies.

Discussion:

Stuart: should be cost effective way of bringing new training program. Issue is bringing the training to the States.

Steve: could be used by NPS.

Walt: Colorado has identified projects and parks where work will be done. While training is accomplshed, trails will also be build and improved with volunteers who are being trained. However, agencies only pay $40 for training.

Scott: There are all kinds of volunteers available now who actually have more trail skills than the agencies. Need to have more willingness by agencies to work with better skills. Big issue is continuing to fund the training while agencies cut back on support. National Forest foundation, for instance, doesn't want to fund training and calls it environmental education. Environmental groups don't want to fund trails.

Stuart: Shows the need to get into the pipeline for annual funding through state trail grants programs, to make volunteer-supported projects a priority for funding.

Steve: programs exist for funding career development to get people into outdoor resource and recreation management in federal agencies. Youth education and job skills are important concepts.

Christopher: FHWA wants to support these efforts but is unable to.

Progress Report from the Skills/Competencies Committee - Steve Elkinton

Action items from the October 22, 2006 NTTP meeting:

1. Competencies scope from BLM trail management class

2. Compile master list on technical skills (Jamie)

3. Compile master list on non-technical skills (Stuart)

Elvin Clapp of BLM Training in Phoenix collected all the pieces from Steve and others and compiled a big list of skills and jobs for trails. Steve's section was based on list defined by Office of Personnel Management for partnerships. Jamie's section lays out columns of basic trail construction skills for natural surface trails. Includes baseline and advanced skill levels, program and construction competency grid, beginner to advanced competency grid, and technical core competencies. Steve would like to complete this compilation and make it available on the NTTP website.

Jamie said that this effort started in order to identify skills as USFS was losing them. Since the NTTP meeting a year ago in Reno, we have discussed ways to find out what all is out there and see who is providing training, and then identify the gaps. There is no sense, e.g., in developing a mountain bike course when IMBA is already doing that well. What training don't we have that people will need?

BLM PROJECT on skills for National Scenic and Historic Trails - Stuart and Steve.

Stuart was at the January meeting in Phoenix representing NTTP. He said that he told the group NTTP will be eager to publicize the survey, to learn anything that can be gleaned from the results, and share the information with NTTP partners and the larger trails community. Group identified a dozen categories, many different potential education elements, and will do a big survey of the trails community along with NS & HT managers. Steve discussed some of the ways agencies could use this information, such as specifying the actions for specialists who are working at sites along these trails. A variety of online course or DVD could be another outcome. Potential funding is another goal.

A key action would be to take these grids and compare the skills with the classes and courses currently available. Another action, which Stuart has started, is to try to list the skills identified on a series of web pages. Then we would link the skills to courses as well as books, online resources, and experts and training provders. Stuart showed some new pages he had started developing at www.americantrails.org/nttp/skills/index.html

What else is needed?

  • Maybe let hits indicate where interests are
  • Include grid at beginning to help people decide what they need
  • Would appreciate further input
  • Where to have information

Carhart National Wilderness Training Center skills identification project

Via teleconference:

(see issue paper from Carhart Center) It's a systematic approach for federal workers for what kind of people at different levels would be the audience for training. Goes through six specialty areas such as planning and maintenance. Uses entry level, full performance, and expert skill levels.

Have begun to identify where training exists for the competencies in the survey and what is lacking.

o Struggling with authority to offer training for public not affiliated with organizations with agency agreements.

o Considering on-line course to get people to same level on Wilderness stewardship before taking ground training .

o Suggestions for NTTP &endash; who are bridges from ACNWTC to NTTP

o Card process &endash; check off if qualified or trained &endash; need credibility.

o Without recruiting efforts agencies are using seasonals rather then staff.

Project will begin with these actions:

- Develop a national skills and project needs database

- Develop standards and course curricula

- Develop and coordinate instructional materials

- Identify and coordinate training needs and projects

DISCUSSION OF GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

Trail Experts: "Identify trails skill experts"

- Add an explanation of training experts and organization/agency providers to the NTTP home page and to the experts and providers pages with appropriate links (Stuart to do)

- Update current experts pages

- contact current and potential experts to see if they want to be listed; they need to return with a link to NTTP

Higher Education: "Great opportunity for working with academia in trails curriculum"

- Contact colleges that have recreation and parks programs; many have outdoor clubs that may teach trail skills

- Tell them about the great resources available.

- American Trails contacted Landscape Architecture schools as well as NRPA's list of accredited Recreation programs; very little response

Evaluation: "How do we know if training if effective? Can we evaluate NTTP training?"

- Christopher notes that FHWA will eventually have to answer that question to justify spending money on training.

- How are we helping make better trails, better experiences, more educated users?

- How are training programs in general evaluated?

Trails Management Course: "What is the future of the Trails 101 course?"

- US Fish and Wildlife Service will host it each fall

- Christopher wants to use it for outreach to states and their project sponsors

- Discussion about Scenic Byways resource center; they have a big budget, but probably no interest in trails that don't

- Should we look for funding for long-term

- Steve suggests Eppley Institute (he will contact them)

- NRPA is still interested; Pam says they want to do a lot more with trails for their members. Trails could be one of their recreation schools.

- Need to change the funding structure; pay for services, not soliciting contributions.

- Scott notes that course is very federal-related and needs to change to be more relevant for the larger trails community. Plenty of opportunities for courses on federal policy, procedures, and regulations

DISCUSSION: "What are the most important things we have not done?"

1. Outreach to States: we need to find more effective ways of reaching them. They have not been very responsive. What are their needs? What kinds of training are States doing?

- Have we invited States to NTTP meetings, and to provide input on training needs and existing training? Yes.

2. Outreach to agency training professionals, e.g. NPS.

3. Concern about federal agency employees trained.

- Patti notes that a lot of training is informal, on the job. Scott answers that it's an inefficient way to train, and you don't know if people are learning good methods. On the other hand, some people are passing on good experience to new employees.

- There are not effective ways of getting the training opportunities into the awareness of the field people who need them. Regional agency people are often now aware of what's available.

- Scott says that most of their requests come from organizations and communities, not from the federal land management agencies. Trails are suffering as a result.

- Scenic Byways sees marketing as one of their main efforts to help local groups.

- Steve: "If you're involved in trails you're involved in training."

- How can we get people connected to the land? That's the real goal behind efforts of IMBA, NOHVCC, and many other groups: build better trails to prevent resource damage. Stewardship is at the heart of why people need quality training.

Question: Should NTTP be providing training itself OR creating buzz, keep pounding about the importance and get the word out? Stuart: It's a role of the partners who work for agencies to find out ways to promote the many training opportunities within their agencies.

4. "Best ways to communicate with nationwide trails community" and "Best ways to communicate among Partners"

- Have good relations among all trail user groups and interests

- Christopher: we're already communicating, but what do we need to improve?

- Is video conferencing a possibility for the future?

[ADJOURN FOR THE DAY]

February 22: meeting continued at 9:00 a.m.

PRIORITIES agreed on:

1. Include trails training in transportation program reauthorization white papers.

2. Embed training and resources in skills and competencies web pages, as Stuart has started doing.

3. Find a home for the Trails 101 course (formerly BLM interagency trails management process).

4. Update Marketing Plan.

5. Update message and look of marketing efforts to emphasize training rather than the partnership.

DISCUSSION ON GOALS AND PRIORITIES for NTTP, continued

5. Communication

- Pam: should we communicate more often, or in more effective ways?

- Agreement that reminders are helpful; email is preferred. Same with partners: feel free to contact American Trails with questions or ideas.

- Scott: what is the role of the partner groups? To bring our ideas and expertise? Or in doing work on a committee? Or reach out to get other partners involved?

- Stuart: we don't have real job descriptions for partners. We value different partners for their different contributions. And as people change or show up periodically, we need to see how they can help.

From visioning for NTTP item #3: "Include trails training in transportation program reauthorization"

- Sean Furniss of USFWS has been planning to write a "white paper" on funding for trails related to surface transportation reauthorization. Pam will talk to him, to Gary Werner of Partners, and Marianne Fowler of RTC. Steve also notes that listening sessions on getting ready for next cycle of reauthorization will be held around the meeting that American Trails and NTTP should attend.

6. Marketing NTTP and training

- Continue to update our marketing actions as well as the Marketing Plan.

- Accessibility will be an ongoing need to provide and promote training for.

- Goal: evaluating effectiveness of how well NTTP is getting the word out on training. Is it even possible to evaluate how well.

- It may be appropriate for NTTP to collect evaluations and share that info.

- NTTP role is to promote more sharing of training among organizations, and help people who may be in one organization's network to know about training and resources from other organizations.

- Info feedback on NTTP website to see how effective we are; even a popup survey. Mary says see zoomerang.com. Have had problem with spam from the online feedback form.

- NOHVCC: In the process of finding out who's asking for our material, where they are coming from, and how they heard about us. Most of it seems to be from the website.

GOVERNANCE - discussion led by Steve Elkinton

Three basic organizational structures:

1. Marriage: anyone can veto, everyone buys into. Legal entity (like partnerships).

2. Informal Group: network, voluntary association (like MOU).

3. Hierarchy: goal is accountability through lines of authority (like agency, corporation, army).

NTTP Evolution:

- Originally envisioned as a roundtable with co-leads

- Federal, non-federal as equals

- Decision by consensus

- No charter or articles of incorporation

- Powered by FHWA funding & AT Staff

- Two co-chairs

- Two separate agreements

- Primary information sharing

- Decision making minimal

- Spotty committee structure

Future options

- Forum

- A training Subcommittee of American Trails

- Current NTTP members as advisors

- Chaired by AT Board or staff

- Feds as advisors

- Stand alone center; a physical location

- Chartered 501 c(3)

- Feds and NGO as funders with decisions by NGOs

 

PROS CONS

FORUMS Not costly easily ignored

Flexible No legal standing

Voluntary Little need for committees

 

PROGRAM Attached to reputable AT Vulnerable if Fed $$$ dries up

Chain of responsibility Vulnerable if AT direction changes

Recognized and formal 501

AT key roles

National scope - key

 

CENTER Strong identity Requires most $$$

Independent legal standing Prone to strong personalities

Old fashioned &endash; Place based training changing to electronic

Agreement: we need more structure and responsibility.

Proposal : American Trails could take on more leadership with NTTP along with managing work and priorities. Question as to whether this is significantly different from current structure. Goal would be to more formally define the responsibilities and to establish more regular communication.

- Organizations would continue to do their own training

- Organizations would retain their own identification

- Structure would require little change in the Agreements

- Easier to market as a cooperative program under AT rather then some sort of entity

- AT staff would be the coordinators

- Structure would include the co-leads

Steps to consider proposal on roles and responsibilities:

1. American Trails and their board will discuss and reach consensus.

2. Subcommittee on Governance will be composed of: Jamie, Steve, Nathan, and Christopher (and Patti by phone) to discuss options.

3. By April, Pam will report to Governance Subcommittee and to attendees at this meeting.

4. Organizations attending this meeting will then send out the proposal to invite comment from other NTTP partners.

5. Make decision at June meeting.

MARKETING ACTIONS and IDEAS

- Twice a year: send update on NTTP, article on training, website reminder;

early in the new year, and again in fall. Ask for training opportunities and resources that NTTP can publicize, articles for American Trails magazine, etc. (Stuart will do).

- Check links from partner websites to NTTP and training (Mike at American Trails will do).

- Check state trails program websites (Stuart will do).

- Copy training calendar items for each state and email to individual state trail administrators (Stuart will do)..

- Follow up with states on training opportunities and state efforts to market training (Pam and Stuart will do).

- Update article on NTTP and training and send to partners (Stuart will do).

- Monica: Promoting the value of training: why training is important for the future of trails. Make quality training a priority for your program, state, trail system. A mechanism to market training more, and sustainable trails, as Tread Lightly! is doing to promote trail access through education.

- Steve: "experience America's trails in a learning environment." Trails are fun because you are learning things all the time. Create expectation of changing your views: trails are our classrooms, trails are an educational experience. Not just emphasizing classroom training.

- Steve: include testimonials from people who have taken the Trails 101 and other courses; make it outcome-oriented.

- Monica will check for internal publications (e.g. NPS Arrowhead for employees) that we could send NTTP article to. Steve also suggests Backpacker, Outdoors, American Hiker, and Pathways Across America.

- Discussion on the Strategies and Tactics from marketing plan; Monica will update the document.

Pam: we should emphasiz the clearinghouse aspect by using the name "National Trails Training Clearinghouse or Information Center." NTTP is a good name for the group that gets together to discuss training, but we should market the online training and resources clearinghouse as "everything you've always wanted to know about trails." Steve wants to see a T-shirt and hat that say "ask me about trails training" with the website on the back. We can de-emphasize the NTTP logo, for instance, and promote training "Brought to you by NTTP."

- Graphics: Steve wants to see future revisions of NTTP documents with more modern fonts and edgier graphics. Use current logo at the bottom of the page. Consensus on font and color. Assure the graphics system is inviting.

- Patti: people only remember three things when they look at a brochure. Steve: "website, website, website."

- Meeting of Marketing Committee March 15 at 1:30 p.m. (Thursday) at BLM office in Salt Lake

Objectives from current marketing plan:

1. Increase number of visits to the NTTP website.

2. Increae the number of posted events and training on the online calendar.

3. Increase the number of listed partners annually.

4. Increase the numbers of contacts on outreach mailing and email lists by 300 during 2007.

American Trails Magazine

Pam asked if any partners have articles, new books, or training. She can include them in the American Trails Magazine and on the website. The deadlines for material for the next two magazines are:

- Spring issue: March 1 deadline

- Fall issue: August 1 deadline

Next NTTP meetings:

- March 5, 2007 - 3-6 p.m.: update meeting at Trailbuilders Conference in Reno

- June 15 (Friday) at Great Outdoors Week; hope to improve over last year, especially among DC-area groups and agencies. Steve will make this the event that Federal Interagency Council on Trails will attend instead of having a separate meeting.

Adjourned at 1:10 p.m.

Meeting notes submitted by Stuart Macdonald with many thanks to Dana Bell.

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