Currently in its 12th year, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, 2 teams of professional outdoor educators, have reached over 10 million people in 48 states with Leave No Trace education and training.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Watch Your Step!!!

We recently spent the day with over 200 Girl Scouts at an Encampment in Tully, NY. Many of the girls spent the night at Camp Hoover, and we were excited to meet up with them and talk about Leave No Trace. During the course of the day we introduced many girls to the 7 principles of Leave No Trace. We spent a little extra time talking about the principle Travel and Camp on Durable Surface/Choose the Right Path. During an activity called "Watch Your Step" the girls discovered all sorts of plants and creatures that live on the ground and are vulnerable to being stepped on and crushed. During the activity, we found an ant hill, strawberry plants, beetles, small saplings and a few wild flowers. We went on to talk about the importance of walking on more durable surfaces. One group even surprised us by singing a song about the importance of walking through puddles on the trail instead of around them. We want to give everyone at Camp Hoover a big thanks for welcoming us into their Encampment and for teaching us "I Love Mud."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thompson Poudre Boyscout Camporee

To round out what has been an epic season of training we headed to the Red Feather Lakes region just northwest of the Fort Collins, CO area.  With the help of fellow trainers and Poudre Wilderness Volunteers Garin Vandemark, Bob Manuel, Mark Snyder, and Fred Allen we  helped train over 250 Boyscouts from the greater Fort Collins area on the seven principles.  Scouts rotated through four stations to learn what it takes to Leave No Trace.  For some it was a great chance to review, for others it was their first taste of the skills and ethics.  We would like to thank the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers and Dave Hattis for all their help in planning and executing this program, we hope to team up with PWV for many years to come. 

Happy Trails, 

Topher and Alexis

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Water Trails Conference

This past weekend we had the opportunity to present to a collective of folks responsible for building and maintaining water trails around North America and other locations around the world.  The International Water Trails Conference put on by the Washington Water Trails Association in Port Townsend, WA featured presentations on a variety of issues related to the start up, and operation of water trails.  We found out just how big a role Leave No Trace plays in the world of water trails especially when you consider how finite the resourses are on many of the island that water trails use.  We want to thank the Washington Water Trails Association for be such great hosts, and partners of Leave No Trace.  

Monday, September 22, 2008


We held a small awareness workshop at the Winnebago Forest Preserve District for conservation leaders and parks and recreation managers in the Rockford, IL vicinity.  Our workshop focused on discussions about the Frontcountry issues that are prevalent on the Kishwaukee Water Trail and other parks in the area.  Laura Barghusen from Openlands, a Leave No Trace partner, coordinated this event.  Openlands is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing public open space in northeastern Illinois and have secured over 45,000 acres of land in for public parks, forest preserves, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens.  We're very thankful for what they do at Openlands and we'll be taking this Frontcountry state of mind over to Pittsburgh for the International Urban Parks Convention.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Olympic National Park

On the way to our next program, we had a chance to check out Olympic National Park in Washington state. What an amazing park, enclosed by water on three sides of the park, with a very diverse ecosystem. In one day a visitor to the park can hike along the coast and view amazing sea stacks, venture into the rainforest and view 300 ft tall spruce trees covered in moss, and gaze upon the glaciers on Mt. Olympus. We hiked along the coast, and explored the sea stacks during low tide which was  amazing  to view the abundance of life within the tidal pools. We also had a chance to camp and hike in the Hoh Rainforest, and view  the many Elk and Black Tail Deer that also live in the campsite area. This is one of the most pristine & unique National Parks, which we look forward to visiting again. 

We are now at the International Water Trails Conference in  quaint town of Port Townsend, Wa. 
Happy Trails, 
Alexis & Topher

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Virginia is for Lovers!

After a quick lunchtime presentation at the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington D.C. last week we headed to Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, VA via the Shenandoah National Park. We camped at Mathew's Arm Campground in the northern part of the park and then took our time and drove down the Skyline Drive to take in all the great views and scenery. Once we had our fill we headed to Lynchburg and arrived at the Claytor Nature Study Center, an extension of Lynchburg College, to meet up with 12 Trainer Course participants.

We spent Saturday and Sunday at the nature center talking, teaching, and learning about Leave No Trace. At the end of the course 10 student leaders for the New Horizons program and the Director of the Claytor Nature Study Center were officially Leave No Trace Trainers. It was a great course and our thanks go out to all of those who participated, to the Claytor Nature Study Center for hosting, and to Paul Stern for organizing.


JD and Emily

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Illinois Rained

We're in the midst of an extremely wet week here in Illinois, but we making the best of it.  First, in Springfield, we talked with 35 kids and 5 teachers at the Montessori Children's House on a rainy day afternoon.  Thank you to Sue Harris for welcoming us into her school.  Then it was off to Rantoul, IL for the Boy Scouts Illini Jamboree with the Prairielands Council of East Central Illinois and Western Indiana.  2,900 scouts were at this big event, and we had a great time during our two awareness workshops onstage at Grissom Theater.  Thanks to Ralph and Ellen for taking great care of us at the Jamboree.  Also, a big tough thumbs up to all the Scouts who stuck around last night and woke up this morning in a monsoon only to have to break down there tents and pack up in a downpour with no end in sight.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Utah Trained


The past few days have been spent in  Utah, and we just wrapped up a Trainer course located in the Logan Canyon of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. We are very grateful to have worked with a knowledgeable crew of educators from a variety of environmental education institutions & the Ogden Nature Center. The training was hosted by Kathi Stopher the Utah State Advocate, and tagged beside an Environmental Education Conference happening in town. The training participants had a huge resume of outdoor experiences put together, and all shared many wonderful experiences correlating to the skills and ethics of Leave No Trace. The groups teaching topics were fun, and engaging too! Another great experience while we camped at the Guinavah - Malibu Campsite was a close encounter with 2 Bull Moose, at the early break of light while camping before our course, a very interesting encounter with wildlife not to be forgotten. 

Thanks & Congratulations to 7 new Leave No Trace Trainers in the beautiful state of Utah! 
Next off to Washington for the Washington Water Trails Conference. 

Happy Trails, 
Alexis & Topher 

City of Rocks

We had an Amazing experience checking out the City Of Rocks, National Reserve in Southern Idaho after the NASPD conference. What  a beautiful formation of rocks, and climbing within the reserve. We spent 2 days climbing, and even did a little mountain biking around the park. This is definitely a climbers paradise, with rocks as far as the eye can see. We met lots of climbers from the Idaho, Utah, and even Colorado area who escape for the weekend to City of Rocks. This will definitely not be the last time we check out the area and climb on beautiful granite formations that have seemed to pop up out of the earth all over the place. 

Happy Trails, 
Alexis & Topher  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Conserve School

Conserve School was founded in 2002 to fulfill James R. Lowenstine's dream of creating a school at which children could be offered a comprehensive college preparatory education with a special emphasis on nature studies. It was his hope that for some students this would lead to ultimate employment in areas related to the preservation of our lakes, forests, and streams for public recreation without spoliation, and in the general science of the conservation of natural resources. Needless to say, we were excited to visit this campus and meet the students who learn and live in the woods of Land O' Lakes, WI.  Our new friend, Gretchen, showed us around and invited us to play some evening ultimate frisbee.  The next day, we spoke to 40 freshman and eight staff members about Leave No Trace and the ethics involved with appreciation and protection of the natural lands that we love.  The Conserve School is a Leave No Trace partner, and Headmaster Stefan Anderson and his staff enthusiastically incorporate Leave No Trace skills and ethics into the curriculum and activities of the school....and it shows.

This one goes out to the Loon

The loons are the size of a large duck or small goose, which they resemble in shape when swimming. Their plumage is largely black-and-white, with grey on the head and neck in some species, and a white belly, and all species have a spear-shaped bill.The European name "diver" comes from the bird's habit of catching fish by swimming calmly along the surface and then abruptly plunging into the water. The North American name loon comes from the bird's haunting, yodelling cry (hear it for yourself). We were lucky enough to enjoy the loon and their yodelling at the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, where we spent three nights camping and hiking. The surrounding area was a beautiful clouded grey with green lush forest, swampy marshes and thousands of lakes. Such a contrast to some of the western states we've traveled. It's been fun wearing our warm clothes and rain gear. Off to Illinois and Pennsylvania. 

Yodel ay he hoo,
Tanya and Cody

Monday, September 8, 2008

Acadia Trainer Course - Part Deux

For the second time this year, Charlie Jacobi, Resource Specialist for Acadia National Park, has hosted a wonderfully successful Leave No Trace Trainer Course. Alexis and Topher instructed the first one at the beginning of the summer and we were excited to work in another one as the busy summer season winds down. While we've enjoyed all the Trainer Courses we've instructed, the combination of great/funny participants, perfect weather, a gorgeous sunset, and a quick dip in Donnell Pond puts this one at the top of the list.

Another great thing about this course was that all of the participants came from very different backgrounds both professionally and personally. It was nice to have so many different perspectives and to explore how Leave No Trace is relevant in all sorts of settings.

After the course, we jumped in the Subaru for a quick trip to Washington, D.C. for The North Face Endurance Challenge. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Hannah had other plans and with the race cancelled we had the weekend off to explore a slightly soggy version of Maine. Now that the sun is shining again we are finally headed south to meet up with our friends at National Geographic. Should be a fun week!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

MMMMMM! .... Maple Syrup!

We recently spent some time working and traveling in the picturesque state of Vermont. First, we went to Middlebury College to work with over 100 student trip leaders. These students are responsible for leading several trips for incoming freshmen. Next, we drove through several Vermont towns that looked like they should be on postcards (and probably were) and arrived in Castleton. At Castleton we met up with a former Leave No Trace intern, Nick Korda, and spoke with several students at Castleton State College.

The Eco-Fest in Burlington was the final stop for our little tour of Vermont. Put on by the Outdoor Gear Exchange, the Eco-Fest was a 5 hour event in the downtown area that featured a local band and one of our favorite partners, Chaco! We spent the afternoon chatting with the locals about Leave No Trace.

NASPD- Keeping it real in a virtual world

This past week we had the great honor of being on hand for the 2008 National State Park Directors Conference in Boise, Idaho.  This year’s theme, “Keeping it real in a virtual world” tackled the realities state parks are facing regarding the every changing technological world we now live in.  Directors attended a variety of presentations dealing with how to cope with the challenges state parks are facing in 2008.  Attendees learned how to reconnect kids with nature, the use of technology as an interpretative tool, and using technology to enhance park operations. 

Leave No Trace was on hand as a follow up from last year’s conference where directors signed a letter of understanding to promote Leave No Trace within state parks.  We offered state park resource guides to help directors implement the resources Leave No Trace has to educate the public how to minimize user impacts on their lands.  We also promoted partnership with the Center as an effort to provide the public with the skills and ethics necessary to preserve our parks.  We wanted to thank the great state of Idaho for hosting the conference this year, and for taking such good care of us while we were in Boise.


Happy Trails,


Topher & Alexis 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"The American Dream" Burning Man 2008

The conception of Burning Man first started by Larry Harvey & Jerry James in 1986 on a beach in San Francisco with a small group of San Fran locals who had free spirits of body, space, and time. They would come together  to assemble a man, and then burn it together on a beach.  Since then there has  been a huge evolution of Burning Man. The Burn moved locations to Black Rock Desert in Nevada, and is now an event with around 50,000 people from all over the world, bringing a new celebration of art, music, culture, and community to the playa. Earth Guardians who are now a 501 c 3 non-profit have been at the fore-front bringing education of Leave No Trace to Burning Man since 1996. We camped with the Earth Guardians who always house the Traveling Trainers out on the Playa each year. We volunteered doing outreach with other volunteers, teaching a Leave No Trace awareness workshop, doing MOOP patrols and pick-ups ( MOOP- Matter out of Place i.e. litter), and going out to the burn platforms to talk with burners about the appropriate things to burn and not burn, and alternatives to burning entire theme camps, or toxic materials, aka PVC. 

This year the circumference of Burning Man, also known for only a week as Black Rock City, was said to be the size of San Francisco, being the largest BRC yet to date. Also the Man was around 100 feet tall, on an amazing platform, which was also the largest to date. The event is truly remarkable, how 50,000 people can come together for a week, making a complete new city out in the middle of No-Where, and at the end of it only have a very small imprint on the playa. There is a reason why Burning Man has been touted as the largest Leave No Trace event, and it simply boils down to stewardship and all the wonderful people that stay and clean up the playa during and after the event. 

Thank you to everyone at the Earth Guardians Camp, & all the Tahoe theme camps for making us feel right at home. We know this will not be our last burn! Thanks Karina & Tony and keep up the amazing work with the Earth Guardians.

Happy Burn, 
Alexis & Topher

Journey to the Center of the States

Here are a few photos from our short but sweet visit to the iconic landmarks in the middle of the country; Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore, and Badlands NP. We loved the Black Hills of South Dakota and look forward to doing some more hiking and exploring if we ever get there again.


We left the west behind last week, and we've been saturating ourselves in all that is great about the midwestern states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The state highways take you past wonderful small towns full of farmland, silos, sweet corn, dairy cows, nice folks, and lots of picturesque bodies of water surrounded by lush vegetation. First, we visited St. Mary's University near the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Winona, MN. We set up a booth during the student activities fair, then we worked with Davey Warner, the university's outdoor recreation coordinator, and some student trip leaders to help kick off their trainer course. That evening we took advantage of the beautiful woods behind the school for some great hiking and camping right on campus.
Next we met with David Cantrell and Cub Scout pack #438, the Rockers, for a Scout Expo in downtown Wausau, WI. The area scouts got together to set up booths, demonstrate scouting skills, and celebrate scouting. We were happy to be a part of their big day and held three demos at our booth using PEAK games and activities out of our "101 Ways to teach Leave No Trace" book.