by Andrea Ketchmark, Executive Director of the North Country Trail Association
Hello North Country Trail Enthusiasts!
I could not be more excited to step into the position of Executive Director of the North Country Trail Association. As Director of Trail Development, I’ve spent the past eight years working with our volunteers and partners across the trail. I know firsthand of the dedication our volunteers bring to their work and the love our trail users have for the experience we provide. It’s your passion that will fuel me as I step into this new role.
We are already strong. NCTA has seen incredible growth, in size, professionalism and financial strength, under Bruce Matthew’s leadership. My challenge will be sustaining our success and figuring out what it means to take us to the next level. The next decade will bring both challenges and opportunities and I have no doubt that our team of staff, volunteer and partners, will be able to meet both with creativity and vigor.
I’d like to share a few thoughts with you today but you can expect to hear much more from me as we get to work. Please plan to join me live on Facebook, Tuesday August 8, at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. CDT) for a Question and Answer session.
It’s more important than ever that NCTA position ourselves as advocates for public land and trails. Without strong support from elected officials, our land management agencies and volunteer partners like us do not get the resources we need to do our jobs. We must make our voices heard on the National, State and Local level so decision makers understand that the North Country National Scenic Trail, and other recreational resources like it, are the keys to a healthy lifestyle for all Americans, protecting natural resources for the future and to building a strong economy.
Engaging new audiences
Over the past two years, the Hike 100 Challenge has brought in thousands of people that were new to the trail or new to the Association. We also had 400 people in attendance at our Annual Celebration in Marquette this weekend, breaking all records. These results are not anomalies. They are indicators that more and more people are finding their way to trails and the NCTA should be prepared to bring them into our community with open arms and minds.
We are now attracting more than our faithful long time members. We are attracting hikers and outdoorspeople that don’t know who we are but are interested in finding out. In response, we must be prepared to meet new audiences by understanding the motivations that bring them to us and how we can create trail stewards out of trail lovers.
Of course to meet the ever growing and changing needs of the Trail, NCTA must be in a sound financial position to be able to provide resources for volunteers and for the management of the trail, to bring on and retain staff, and market the organization in a way that brings more volunteers together to share our vision and the workload.
Join me for a live session on Facebook August 8th at 8pm. I’ll be there to answer your questions but I’d also love to hear your stories about how the trail has impacted your life and what you think is needed to carry NCTA into the future.
Thank you for being part of our team and the North Country National Scenic Trail community.