Revitalizing Rural Economies and Strengthening Main Streets Through Trails

This webinar will discuss the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program. You'll also hear from one of ten community partners who received RERC assistance in its pilot round in 2021.

Presented by:

Event Details

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April 14, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Mountain Time)
12:00 PM to 01:00 PM (Central Time)
01:00 PM to 02:00 PM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers

Learning Credit Cost: FREE


Closed Captioning is available for this webinar.
Learning Credits
are available for this webinar.


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Webinar Outline

In this webinar, Steph Bertaina will share about the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program which completed its pilot round in 2021. The RERC program is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the USDA Forest Service, and the Northern Border Regional Commission, and provides planning assistance to rural communities and small towns to help them leverage the growing interest in outdoor recreation to revitalize main streets and diversify the economy.

Participants will also hear from Sarah Pelkey and Caitrin Maloney in Poultney, Vermont, which was one of 10 community partners to receive RERC assistance in 2020-2021. Poultney experienced a tremendous economic shock when Green Mountain College shuttered its campus on Main Street in 2019. And yet, through dedicated community efforts, the town began exploring the role that outdoor recreation could play in diversifying Poultney’s economic base, boosting access to healthy activities for residents, and drawing in visitors to the area. The community has been hard at work connecting its downtown to recreational centers, expanding on its large and growing trail system, engaging youth in trail stewardship, and making plans for installing wayfinding signs and art installations along existing trails. Be ready to be inspired by Poultney’s story of taking a challenge and turning it into an opportunity to connect outdoor recreation, trail building, economic diversification, and main street revitalization!

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about federal planning assistance that is supporting local communities as they leverage outdoor recreation for main street revitalization and economic diversification.
  2. Be inspired by the story of Poultney, Vermont, a community that is embracing outdoor recreation as an important part of its story.
  3. Learn how Poultney leveraged planning assistance through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program and is implementing strategies to boost outdoor recreation and main street revitalization efforts in their community.
  4. Be challenged to think broadly about the impacts that outdoor recreation and trails can have for a community, including becoming more welcoming and inclusive places, improving the built environment and infrastructure, improving wellness and health of residents, and boosting economic development opportunities.


This webinar qualifies as a Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) course (via LA CES).

Webinar Resources

  • Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) Program
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Community Revitalization
  • Town of Poultney, VT RERC Report (pdf)
  • Town of Poultney Facebook page
  • Slate Valley Trails

    Webinar Partners


    Stephanie Bertaina, Senior Policy Analyst, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Community Revitalization
    Washington, DC

    Stephanie Bertaina is a Senior Policy Analyst with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Community Revitalization in Washington DC, where she works with rural communities and small towns to build vibrant, healthy, sustainable, and inclusive neighborhoods and downtowns. Stephanie coordinates the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program, which is partnering with rural communities across the country to help them leverage the power of outdoor recreation to diversify local economies and revitalize main streets. Stephanie received an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning from the University of Michigan and Bachelor degrees from Westmont College.


    Sarah Pelkey, Economic Development Coordinator, Town of Poultney
    Poultney, Vermont

    Sarah Pelkey is the Economic Development Coordinator for the Town of Poultney, VT. Her background spans several decades in community development and revitalization, planning, marketing and business development, and construction project management. This diverse experience is supported by an underlying interest in all things that combine to create healthy, livable communities and a keen awareness of the social situations and built environments that lend themselves to such places.

    Sarah strongly believes in building healthy communities by empowering citizens to engage with all levels of leadership and by promoting active involvement in placemaking and entrepreneurship. Sarah attended the University of Vermont where she graduated with a B. A. in Psychology with a Minor in Sociology.


    Caitrin Maloney, Co-Owner, Sustainable Trailworks, LLC
    Poultney, Vermont

    Caitrin Maloney is co-owner of Sustainable Trailworks, along with her husband Hardy Avery. Sustainable Trailworks designs and builds trails throughout the northeast, and provides consulting services in nonprofit management and community development. Caitrin and Hardy are currently spearheading a multi-year trail development project near their home in Poultney, VT. Caitrin is also president of the Velomont Trail Collective, whose goal is to create a trail and huts system that runs the length of the state.


    Closed Captioning

    We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.

    Learning Credits and CEUs

    American Trails is proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

    • American Institute of Certified Planners Continuing Maintenance (AICP CM)
    • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES PDH) (most HSW approved)
    • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) CEU equivalency petition
    • CEU/PDH equivalency petition for other accepting organizations

    Learning credits are free for attendees for American Trails webinars and the International Trails Symposium, as well as for other conferences, webinars, and workshops we offer credits for. Learn more here.


    While we may individually agree (or disagree) in whole or in part with any or all of the participants, the views expressed in these webinars are not necessarily representative of the views of American Trails as an organization or its board and staff. Unless specific situations are noted by presenters, nothing in American Trails webinars should be considered to be interpreted as a standard.

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    4,860 views • posted 03/10/2022