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How WTA Ambassadors are Creating a Lasting Impact

Posted by Nicole Masih-Théberge at Dec 19, 2022 11:55 AM |
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WTA's work wouldn't be possible without volunteers, who help our work in many different ways. Volunteer ambassadors support WTA’s mission to mobilize hikers to explore, steward and champion trails and public lands. Right now, we're welcoming new ambassadors. Learn more about the program and how to get involved.

My heart was full as enthusiastic hikers visited our table on Washington Trails Day. We saw a lot of joy on people’s faces, including a father training for a backpacking trip with his son and hikers with families visiting from out of town. Whether young or old, the people we talked to had a consistent response: “Trails matter, and WTA is making a difference.” 

From our perch at a trailhead at Point Defiance Park, four ambassadors and I shared our enthusiasm for trails and public lands with over 100 people, collected signatures to protect those trails and lands, chatted about the joys of the outdoors and even gave water to some dogs. Washington Trails Association ambassadors are outreach volunteers and they make these events and meaningful connections possible in communities across Washington. Personal connections make a lasting impact. 

Four people stand behind a table with WTA printed information.
Nicole Masih-Théberge (left) leads WTA’s ambassador program. Photo by Allie Tripp.

Ambassadors support WTA’s mission to mobilize hikers to explore, steward and champion trails and public lands. That mission requires community engagement. Without informing the public about our resources and opportunities and listening to what people new to the outdoors are looking for, we can’t build our community or fulfill our mission. 

Since joining the staff at WTA as the statewide engagement and events coordinator in May 2022, I’ve worked with ambassadors to attend varied events. I have been amazed by the response at each. At Washington Trails Day, we heard over and over something resembling, “Oh, WTA, I will get behind anything you all are doing.” At another event, I heard, “I use the Hiking Guide all the time,” and talked with someone else about planning ahead and what passes they would need for an upcoming adventure. At an employee wellness fair, with many folks who were not yet familiar with WTA, longtime ambassador Kathleen Lange and I shared a wealth of opportunities and resources, such as handouts for suggested hikes, information on how to volunteer, and how to find our Trail Smarts page. 

How does WTA make a lasting impact? We’re making it easier for people to enjoy the benefits of nature by providing access to information about when and where to go and how to stay safe. We’re building community for people who care about Washington’s wild places by offering inclusive events and volunteer opportunities. And we’re ensuring future generations have access to hiking and the joys of being outdoors through avenues such as building and maintaining trails, Outdoor Leadership Training … and so much more.  

It does not take long talking with the public to see the value of sharing resources and connecting with people around a love of the outdoors. As Whitney Allar, one WTA ambassador, has said, “I’m proud to be part of an organization that breaks down barriers between people.” Ambassadors are a huge part of bringing all of these pieces together for enduring change: securing trails for everyone, forever.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.