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WTA's Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Washington Trails Association believes it is vitally important for everyone to have the opportunity to access the outdoors.

WTA believes everyone should have access to Washington’s trails and feel represented and included in the hiking community.

Local hiking group enjoying the Chain Lakes Trail photo by Kara Hollenbeck
At WTA, we believe that everyone should have access to Washington's outdoors. Photo by Kara Hollenbeck


Washington Trails Association believes exploring nature is good for people’s hearts, minds and bodies, and that hiking is a powerful way for everyone to connect with Washington’s natural wonders. Yet, we know social inequities can impact all aspects of our lives, including engagement with the outdoors, and that significant barriers have prevented many people from hiking.

WTA believes everyone should have access to Washington’s trails and feel represented and included in the hiking community. We recognize the need for the hiking community to grow and evolve as new generations of trail users do, and to honor all the ways that people hike based on their history and identities (including but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, class, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age, ability and background).

WTA has a responsibility to ensure all people have the chance to discover and enjoy the many benefits of hiking.

WTA is committed to:

  • Fostering an inclusive hiking community, where people of all identities are represented and feel welcome;
  • Cultivating an inclusive culture and environment at WTA where staff, volunteers and program participants of all identities feel valued; and
  • Advancing equitable access to trails so that barriers don’t stand in the way of people getting outside.

Building an inclusive hiking community isn't easy and it takes time, but the same can be said about protecting and preserving trails. WTA is equally committed to the long-term stewardship of both. Our community will be the strongest champion for trails if it builds connections across identities and honors open dialogue about how we can all do better.


 

Our Work to Date

We are in the process of developing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy that will provide concrete steps and goals for this work at WTA. But we are already working to foster diversity, equity and inclusion.

Below are some successes to date:

Making our organization more diverse and our culture more inclusive:

WTA has provided training in implicit bias and cultural competency to staff to ensure they can recognize, mitigate, and address exclusionary behaviors within WTA. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy will provide concrete steps and goals for how we can ensure WTA is where people of all backgrounds want to work and serve in leadership positions.

Provide accessible information about Washington’s trails

WTA’s communications connect individuals and communities with free information about hiking, camping and accessing Washington’s natural areas.

Sharing stories of the trail community

In our communications, we feature a range of voices and perspectives. We aim to provide a platform for encouraging outdoor exploration.

Improving our volunteer experiences for all participants

WTA has been leading trail work parties for more than two decades, and our volunteer model is rooted in the belief that everyone—no matter their experience level or personal background—can give back to trails and the hiking community. We have a responsibility to create a trail crew culture where everyone feels welcomed, respected and valued. To do that, our crew leaders need to be as skilled at building bridges across the range of identities and experiences represented on their crew as they are at building bridges across a stream. WTA’s annual Crew Leader College includes training on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Breaking down barriers to access the outdoors

Through our Outdoor Leadership Training program, WTA connects youth to the outdoors by supporting schools and community organizations that want to provide youth with outdoor experiences. With skill-building workshops for trip leaders, a free gear-lending library, mini-grants, and a growing peer network, we hope to reduce some of the more common barriers—like lack of gear, training, and transportation—to outdoor experiences.