Trail Ambassador Programs: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices (Part 1 of 2)

Best practices from some of the best trail ambassador programs across the nation, representing a variety of trail user types, to offer sage advice for starting programs for your trail.

Presented by:

Event Details

** This event has passed **

October 28, 2021

10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM (Mountain Time)
12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (Central Time)
01:00 PM to 02:30 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.

Watch on YouTube

Get learning credits, transcript, and resources

This webinar is free. Would you consider a donation to support this webinar?


Webinar Outline

Trail ambassador programs can be a boon to any trail or trail system. They build local engagement, help identify and solve deferred maintenance issues, and turn casual users into lifelong advocates. We've gathered together leaders of some of the best ambassador programs across the nation, representing a variety of trail user types, to share best practices and offer sage advice for starting programs for your trail. We have made this a two-part webinar series to showcase great examples and resources that will focus on providing ample time for answering your most burning questions.

Join us for Part 2 in January 2022 (or view the recording). Don't miss this opportunity to engage your most ardent supporters in meaningful ways.

Below are prime examples of the ambassador programs you will learn more about on the webinar:

Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness Trail Ambassadors (Idaho)

In 2015 a hiker on the Scotchman Peak trail encouraged a mountain goat to lick his leg for a unique “selfie”, resulting in dozens of stitches and a trail closed for the remainder of the season. The next summer our volunteer Trail Ambassadors program began. We recruit, train and deploy volunteer trail ambassadors on Scotchman Peak, an iconic mountain in the panhandle of Idaho, on weekends and holidays from early June to Early October. Our Ambassadors engage, one on one, the thousands of hikers drawn to this iconic trail in order to keep mountain goats wild, hikers safe and trails open for our community during

Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance Wildlife Trail Ambassador Program (Colorado)

The Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance (VVMTA) launched the Wildlife Trail Ambassador (WTA) program in the spring of 2018 after recognizing the need to proactively educate and communicate with trail users and the community about seasonal wildlife trail closures in Eagle County, Colorado. Volunteer ambassadors are placed at seasonally closed trailheads to enforce and educate trail users about the closure along with leave no trace principles, trail etiquette, and options where trail users can recreate during these times. Additionally, the program includes social ambassadors who are members of the community who frequently interact and inform the public of the importance of seasonal closures at events/meetings such as hotel conferences, community groups, at outdoor retailers, and within their social networks. The VVMTA in partnership with the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District has installed and managed over 10 game cameras on seasonally closed trails to provide data and inform the direction and decisions of the WTA program. Since the program began, volunteer ambassadors have logged over 500 hours and contacted over 2,000 trail users at trailheads.

Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail Ambassadors (British Columbia, Canada)

The Okanagan Rail Trail is situated in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and was opened in September 2018. It is jointly owned by the City of Kelowna, the Okanagan Indian Band, the District of Lake Country and the Regional District of North Okanagan. Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail (FORT) is the recognized volunteer society that works to improve the trail and the trail users experience.

The purpose of the Trail Ambassador program is to recruit, train and retain volunteers to welcome visitors, answer questions observe use patterns, encourage and model trail etiquette, record maintenance issues, and submit user feedback reports to the trail owners. We have a small volunteer committee that develops, maintains, and promotes the program, gathers needed resources, plans, implements and evaluates training, and reports to the board at monthly meetings.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Trail Ambassadors (Minnesota)

The 2007 Minnesota Legislature established an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Safety and Conservation Program and Advisory Council (MS 84.9011) to assist in safety and environmental education and monitoring trails on public lands. OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) such as four-wheel-drive trucks.

The "Minnesota DNR Volunteer Trail Ambassador Program" was established by the DNR Divisions of Enforcement, Parks & Trails and Forestry. The program exists to promote safe, environmentally responsible operation of OHVs through informational, educational contacts and monitoring efforts. Oversight and management of the program is the responsibility of the DNR Division of Enforcement, Safety/Education section.

This is a statewide program with focus on established state OHV trails and grant in aid trail systems. The program involves 22 ATV clubs with 200 Trail Ambassadors monitoring trails on an annual basis from May 1st to Oct 31st.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn successful strategies for creating your own ambassador program
  • Understand processes for individual ambassador programs in small and large settings
  • Understand processes for individual ambassador programs of different trail types


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

Webinar Resources

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance (VVMTA)

Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail (FORT)

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources


Webinar Partners


Phil Hough, Executive Director, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
Sandpoint, Idaho

Phil Hough is Executive Director of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. He is a founding board member of the Idaho Trails Association and now serves on their advisory board. He is a past president of the American Long Distance Hikers West Association (ALDHA-WEST). Phil is a member of the Idaho Panhandle Forest Collaborative and a member of the North Idaho Resources Advisory Council (RAC). Along with his wife Deb, Phil has explored wilderness areas across our continent. Together they have hiked the “triple crown”: the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest trail (twice). He has also paddled the length of the Yukon River.


Ernest Saeger, Executive Director, Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance
Eagle County, Colorado

Ernest came to the Vail Valley in 2014 to work as the Director of Operations for a local nonprofit organization. He currently resides in Eagle with his adventure partner Hailee. Ernest believes that like the reward of a downhill after a long climb or setting a skin track, trail work provides that same “earn your turns” satisfaction. When you can’t find him on a bike or skis, you’ll most likely still find him outdoors, and if not there then he’s in an ice rink. Ernest is also a member of Vail Mountain Rescue Group. He serves on many coalitions and committees in the Vail Valley including the Eagle County Community Wildlife Roundtable, Town of Eagle Open Space & Trails Advisory Committee, Eagle Valley Outdoor Stewardship Coalition, and more. He is truly excited to help bring new and improved trails to our community for all to enjoy for many years to come.


Phyllis Turner, Volunteer Lead, Trail Ambassador Program, Director, Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail
Lake Country, British Columbia

Phyllis is a retired RN who was born in the Okanagan and has returned there following my husband, Tom’s, retirement. They are active community members and volunteer for a number of organizations. They first began supporting the Okanagan Rail Trail when they helped to raise 7.8 million dollars to construct the trail from the abandoned 52 km (32.3 miles) rail line between Vernon and Kelowna, BC. Phyllis keeps active by walking, bike riding, playing pickleball, and kayaking. She has enjoyed biking on many trails in BC, PEI, northern Washington, and Idaho.


Bruce Lawrence, Recreational Vehicle Coordinator, Division of Enforcement, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Little Falls, Minnesota

Bruce has been employed for 20 yrs. 6 months with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a Conservation Officer. His current Job title is Recreational Vehicle Coordinator within the Division of Enforcement.

His specialty position exists to develop, administer, and evaluate the All-Terrain Vehicle, Off-Highway Motorcycle and Off-Road Vehicle Safety Programs, and to ensure Minnesota's recreational vehicle users are offered approved training and certification. It exists to address issues that affect the safe operation and use of these same recreational vehicles on a statewide basis and to develop, implement and administer the statewide ATV Education Program so the citizens of the state receive resource and ATV safety education and I oversee the training of citizens within ATV clubs to participate with the Trail Ambassador program.

Also, his position provides an essential link between the state's recreational user groups, to include all-terrain vehicle of Minnesota, law enforcement agencies, and the legislature regarding issues relating to the recreational vehicle programs. This position monitors national educational programs and provides expertise when developing and implementing procedures relative to the state's programs.


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) (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 Summit, as well as for other trail and outdoor recreation-related 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.

Terms and Privacy Policy

By registering for our webinars, you submit your information to the webinar organizer and associated presenters and sponsors, who may use it to communicate with you regarding this event and their other services. Your organization may also be added to the American Trails Business Directory. You can easily cancel your registration at any time.

7,810 views • posted 05/25/2021