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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We've moved our blogs!

Come find our blogs directly on our new website at:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Southeast Send Off!

All over AR.  For the past three months, we have traveled all over the Southeast providing outreach and workshops to more than 25 schools, universities, organizations, and land management agencies.  All though Arkansas expands our reach to just west of the Mississippi River, we experienced some creative groups that are benefiting from the Leave No Trace Program.  We spent three days at Lake Dardanelle State Park, which provides interpretive programs to visitors at the park.  Take a look at the photo below:  The park rents out backpacks for families looking for interesting and educational activities to fill their time while at the lake.  Notice the Leave No Trace hang tag attached to the pack!

From there, we traveled to Northwest AR, where we worked with 8th grade students from Pea Ridge, who would be attending Outdoor School at Devil's Den State Park later that week.  Our workshop prepared them with a good introduction to how they can be stewards of the land and take responsibility for their choices while enjoying the park.  Following that, we met up with Jennifer Hazelrigs, Leave No Trace State Advocate for the state of Arkansas, at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, for the Arkansas Adventure Programming Conference.
Jennifer Hazelrigs and Scott Dirksen-Lyon College were excited to see Bigfoot come out for the Saturday morning trail run!  
This student-led conference drew faculty and staff from 6 colleges and universities from AR, KY, TX, and IA.  With over 80 participants on site over the weekend, and the majority of the programs led by student presenters, there were many opportunities to learn new skills and gain valuable knowledge of outdoor programming.
We led a three hour skills workshop, with a surprise guest!

Horseshoe Canyon had many goats, horses, dogs, and mules that call the Ranch home.  We were shocked to have two horses join us at our workshop, first time for that!  This would not be the last time we see horses this week...
Tracy, Jacque, Kate and Rob in Snowball, AR.

We finished up our time in Arkansas on horseback!  We spent the day with Rob Stephens, BSA/Leave No Trace all around champion, and Jacque Alexander, Leave No Trace/Backcountry Horseman of America advocate, as well as other members of BCH of Arkansas for a trail ride along the Buffalo River National Park.  15 miles later, we enjoyed river crossings, wildflowers in bloom, and riding along the painted bluffs, all the while making friends with everyone including "Dakota and Shorty".  Thank you to Jacque, Rob, and all of the ladies on the ride.  Oh what a day-Glorious!

As we head towards the Northeast, we reflect on all of our events the past few months since the 2012 season began and look forward with great anticipation for the next three months in the Northeast!

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lunch Spot of the Week

Can you spot Kate?

The Goat Trail over looking the Buffalo River.

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yearning for Higher Learning

San Bernardino Area, CA:

This week Team West had the pleasure of spending time with two extremely active student recreation programs. We spent Tuesday at Pomona College with their Outdoor Education Center staff and adventuring members. Thursday we joined CSU San Bernardino's Recreational Sports department for another set of campus outreach and workshops.

Listening to, and talking with these student driven groups our hopes are that these outgoing members will take up the charge of getting fellow classmates out of doors and practicing Leave No Trace. These recreation programs will provide access to gear and excursions that would otherwise be out of reach either monetarily or logistically. The chance to sea-kayak, rock climb, backpack, paddle-board or bike in an encouraging peer filled environment is a perfect place to foster a blossoming outdoor ethic. Leading by example these groups have the power to show hundreds of students each year that the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace help provide for a better outdoor experience for everyone. Not only on a burly expedition, but from the dorm room to the campus quad too.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Natural State of Arkansas Tech and Beyond

Wildflowers abound in Arkansas

Russellville, AR.  Team East spent the past two days working with students and faculty at Arkansas Tech University.  An educational partner of Leave No Trace, Arkansas Tech strives to promote Leave No Trace within the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Hospitality Administration.  Nestled in the western part of Arkansas, Russellville is within close proximity to many beautiful lakes, forests, waterfalls, caverns, and mountains.  The "Natural State" truly offers outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy natures playground.  Students at Arkansas Tech can access the Ozark National Forest, Hot Springs National Park, numerous Army Corp of Engineer waterways such as Lake Dardanelle, the Buffalo National River Wilderness, along with numerous state parks including Mount Magazine- the highest point between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains.

Bulletin Board at Arkansas Tech
We had the opportunity to educate the Outdoor Education class on ways to teach youth about Leave No Trace, as the entire class will be working with 5th graders next week at their outdoor school.  The students had a lot of fun acting like 5th graders as we played "What Principle Am I?", which gave them a good introduction to the seven Leave No Trace principles.  We then provided them with strategies on developing lesson plans that activate different learning styles.  The workshop completed with a rousing game of Okay vs. No Way, a favorite amongst elementary school classes we work with (and is available as a FREE download on the Leave No Trace website).
We thank Dr. Glen Bishop for bringing the Traveling Trainer Program to Arkansas Tech!  His enthusiasm for protecting the "Natural State" is contagious and we are very excited to explore what this area has to offer.
We will be at Lake Dardanelle State Park all weekend providing training opportunities for the staff, outreach to the public, and evening campfire programs both Friday and Saturday nights!  Come on down!
Respect the Resource...Kate & Tracy

Leapin' Lizards!

San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA:

Last week Team West spent a few hours with Park Rangers from all over the County of San Diego. The collective will be returning to their individual parks and sites with strategies and tactics of how to best connect the messages of Leave No Trace into their visitors' experiences. Getting together with this many rangers and sharing their personal struggles and successes in the challenging task of leading park guests toward their own sense of stewardship is an awesome venue for teaching and learning Leave No Trace.

After our training we snatched the opportunity to stroll the paths at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center. Contrasting its proximity to some major roads and development the lagoon is an absolute oasis of life. A short walk revealed shore birds, waders, ducks, spiders, hummingbirds, and flowers. By far the most obvious form of animal life were the scores of lizards sunning themselves in the sweet Southern California sun.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Monday, April 9, 2012

And The Crowd Goes Wild!!!

Have you ever witnessed a user created shortcut along trail switchbacks?  While these additional trails may look harmless, unnecessary erosion occurs, thereby damaging the actual trail.  In addition, vegetation alongside the trail, which may be home to sensitive wildlife habitats including plants and animals, gets trampled as the trail is widened.  Leave No Trace recommends to avoid cutting trail switchbacks as you travel along the established trail.  
Going up! The trail goes to the right, the shortcut to the left.
Leave No Trace is your one stop shop to learn more about why it is important to Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.  Be like Bigfoot and Leave No Trace!

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Friday, April 6, 2012

Feed Us Quackers!

We've been camping in the beautiful County of San Diego, CA at Guajome Regional Park. An urban park with sprawling grounds, an abundance of wildlife and cool shady campsites, we have had excellent accommodations. However while cooking breakfast on our first day in this frontcountry campground, we had some unexpected and uninvited visitors adventure right up to our picnic table. Although both cute and interesting to observe, we know that this wildlife was looking for food handouts and must frequently get them from campers here. In fact, we saw them making their rounds each day. Human food is unhealthy for wildlife, feeding them starts bad habits.

Remember that considerate campers observe wildlife from afar, give animals a wide berth, store food securely, and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals. YOU are a visitor to their home. Please help Keep Wildlife Wild.

Recreate your recreation,
Mark and Tara

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Delighted in Death Valley

As we wipe the desert dust off of all our belongings, fire up the electronics, and regain reception we realize it's been a while since we blogged. Even a Traveling Trainer needs some down time and after a week of restful vacation we were blessed to enjoy a warm and windy week in Death Valley National Park, CA. A land of extremes, Death Valley is known as the hottest, driest, and lowest park. Spanning over 140 miles long with 300 miles of paved roads and around 1000 miles of backcountry roads, the Park Rangers here have a lot of land to cover and around one million visitors each year to educate.

We were excited to hit the trail for our fourth Trainer Course this season with staff from many departments within Death Valley and also Yosemite National Park. Wilderness managers, trail crew, interpreters, law enforcement and restoration workers all came together to discuss the impacts they see and find solutions to them using the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace as a guide on the ground.

Even the most isolated places on earth are being affected by external factors. Although Death Valley is more than 120 miles to the closest major city, nonnative species, lightscape, air quality and issues arising from less than Leave No Trace practices in the 91% of the park which is a designated wilderness all combine.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Monkeying Around in Franklin, NC!

Tracy uses "Sparks" the camp stove to teach Be Careful With Fire

Franklin, NC.  Franklin is a mountain town nestled in the Nantahala National Forest.  There is no shortage of recreational activities in this region of the country.  The Traveling Trainers were on hand to visit local schools, provide an evening program at the library, and set up a booth at the Franklin Trail Days event.  This event is catered to the cadre of hikers that are attempting to through hike the Appalachian Trail (AT).  Yes, that is right, through hikers complete the roughly 2,180 mile trek in one shot, traveling from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.  This is usually completed in a spring/summer season, although we met Jennifer Pharr-Davis who completed the trek in a mere 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes, setting an all time speed record!  
Not everyone we encountered in Franklin was up to this monumental challenge, but some 2-3 million people hike along sections of the AT every year.   We had plenty of time during our stay to work in local schools to teach the skills and ethics to students that either enjoy spending time outdoors or who aspire to one day through hike the AT!

First graders watch "Trek and Track" hike up Misty Mountain

After working with a very astute class of first graders, we took them on a Leave No Trace "hike" in their own school yard.  They mastered the Peak principle Trash Your Trash, as we left the school yard looking better than we found it as we collected an entire bag of micro-trash from the school yard. We also encountered this beautiful feather pictured below.  One student found the feather and brought it to our attention.  After learning to Leave What You Find, we made a class decision to leave the feather in its natural setting so that others could come upon it and be as excited as we were when we found it.  We decided to take a picture, instead of taking it home!
We finished our time with a rousing game of Leave No Trace Draw.  This activity engages students by having them answer Leave No Trace scenario questions.  If they get the answer correct, they get to complete a Wildlife Challenge!  Pictured below, we are all monkeying around a bit!
Leave No Trace Draw
We would like to extend a HUGE thank you to Bill and Sharon Van Horn for setting up 3 chock full days in Franklin, NC.  We wish them well as they hike hard this year to attain their goal of completing the AT in 2012.  They have 600 miles to go! Happy hiking Bill and Sharon!

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Monday, March 26, 2012

Snot Rags vs. Snot Rockets

Lakeland, FL.  This weekend we traveled to Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve to facilitate a two day Leave No Trace Trainer Course.  With the help of Michelle Thompson, Wellness Programs Manager of Florida Southern College, we hiked to a beautiful campsite with 5 other eager participants that were excited to bring Leave No Trace education back to groups they work with. Throughout the course, we learned, laughed, and listened as we explored the 7 Leave No Trace principles through games, activities, and discussions.
The Winners of Step On It- Snot Rags!

Michelle practices digging a cathole with a Sea to Summit Trowel

Leave What You Find to understand the entire puzzle
The Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve is home to many interesting creatures including alligators, wild hogs, armadillos (one that wanted to sleep in a tent with Kathy and Dillon), many birds, tree frogs, and deer.  We also enjoyed learning about the native flora and vegetation from Kathy, who works for the North Port Parks and Recreation Department.
We saw lots of interesting wildlife including this fuzzy little guy
Whether you enjoy the backcountry, frontcountry, or your backyard, practicing Leave No Trace will help preserve and protect the natural world.  We challenge you to teach others about Leave No Trace and give people knowledge that will empower them to make good decisions in the out of doors and think about those who will come after us.  Thank you to Michelle, Kathy, Dillon, Dean, and Britty for an awesome course!
Congratulations Leave No Trace Trainers!
Respect the Resource... Kate and Tracy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Your Turn Kids!

Create! Play! Win! Do you have, know or teach children between the ages of 6-12? If you do, please share this contest with them! Our corporate sponsor, Clif Bar, through Clif Kid is holding their "Backyard Game of the Year". The challenge for the kids: get outside and dream up a fun outdoor game. The prize: a 10, 000 scholarship, a Marin bicycle and Bell Helmet and a trip to San Francisco.

To the adults out there, we challenge YOU to share the Seven PEAK Principles of Leave No Trace while introducing this great contest to enter. Ask them to consider one or many of these ideas when they create their new game:

- Know Before You Go
- Choose the Right Path
- Trash Your Trash
- Leave What You Find
- Be Careful With Fire
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Kind to Other Visitors

To learn more about the "Backyard Game of the Year" and enter NOW until June 17, 2012, click here.

Recreate your recreation, start in the backyard.
Mark and Tara

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time to Finish What You Started

Where You Play, USA:

How many times have you seen this? The obligatory dog waste bag left 'conveniently' for you to see and the proud puppy parent to forget. Most everyone we discuss this impact with agrees that it is unsightly, stinky, unsafe, and widespread. Oddly enough, it also seems one of the easiest to eliminate. Simply take it with you. Better yet, have Fido plan ahead and pack it out himself. Getting a puppy pack also ensures that your pet has enough food and water for any outing. Check out this link through REI, which has lots of good tips for hitting the trail with your furry friends.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Monday, March 19, 2012

500th Event For Team East!

Tequesta, FL.  This past weekend marked a very special event for Team East.  We set up our arsenal of Leave No Trace educational materials for the 500th time!  The timing was just right for us because the event happened to fall on our favorite vessel to teach others about Leave No Trace, a trainer course.  The Leave No Trace Trainer Course utilizes a train the trainer model, so that we get to spend 16 hours with participants and equip them with the skills to teach others about land stewardship in a fun and engaging manner.  This particular course was held at the Tanah Keeta Scout Reservation. The reservation includes 640 acres along the south edge of Jonathan Dickenson State Park and the Loxahatchee River.  During the course we hiked along the beautiful 5.2 mile Mike Machek Trail.  There are 5 different ecosystems solely along the trail!

Congratulations to the seven newest Leave No Trace Trainers!  We would also like to extend  thank-you to Kelsey Couples and Harlan Pierce for their efforts in getting this course set up and their hospitality during our stay at the Tanah Keeta Scout Reservation.

Respect The Resource...Kate and Tracy

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Picture of the Week 3/18/12

Santos Trailhead- Ocala, FL.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Signs of Spring

Kingman Wash, Arizona:

The Southwest weather is well into the swing of Spring. So are the animals. The sixth Leave No Trace Principle, 'Respect Wildlife', encourages us to avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter. With habitat loss at an all time high, interactions with wildlife are becoming increasingly frequent. Nowhere is this more apparent than in 'frontcountry' areas. Places near people and cities.

While camping only miles from the Hoover Dam which sees nearly 3000 people daily we viewed a flock of eleven bighorn sheep, including three juvenile members. Watching them graze only tens of yards from our tent, we were able to silently snap some photographs of these majestic creatures. Their numbers are slowly recovering from only a few thousand at the turn of the twentieth century, down from the millions that once roamed the Americas. We gave these bighorns the respect that they deserved to gain the calories needed to ensure their survival. We stayed quiet and still until they ventured up the steep walls of the canyon.

To learn more about how to best respect wildlife during these sensitive times navigate here.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Take A Peek at PEAK In Action

Tarpon Springs, FL.  Take a look at this video, shot at an elementary school in Florida earlier this week.  Kate leads a lesson on leave no trace using the PEAK Program.  PEAK- Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids- is an interactive, engaging program designed to educate youth about responsible recreation and land stewardship.  It is clear to see how much fun PEAK can be!  For more information about PEAK, check out  

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fat Tire Fun in Florida!

Ocala, FL.  This weekend we had a blast at the Fat Tire Mountain Bike Festival in Ocala, FL.  This weekend long festival, hosted by the Ocala Mountain Bike Association, is in its sixth year.  The festival provides an opportunity for riders from all over the southeast to get together and enjoy the beautiful trails near the Santos Trailhead.  With over 80 miles of trail of varying level, there is fun for all levels of riders. With almost 1,000 riders pedaling the trails, it is important to consider ways to minimize potential impacts to the land, and to take on pictures and leave only tracks!
   One of the highlights of the weekend was the Free Ride Demo at the Vortex Dirt Jump area of the park.  Here riders jumped, bounced, soared, and hit the dirt through an amazing free ride course.  In addition, there were numerous bicycle companies like Trek and Specialized, offering from demos of mountain bikes throughout the weekend.

After a day on the trails, 350 people camped out for the weekend.  The campground was swarming with bikes, trikes, and unicycles.  We even saw a Fat Tire Flyer (shown above) from our friends at New Belgium Brewery, based in Fort Collins, CO. 
Of course, no festival would be complete without a visit from the Big Guy himself.  Bigfoot was super excited to try out the fun park on a bicycle, weaving and bobbing his way around the dirt.  Above, Bigfoot meets Renee Blaney, former professional mountain biker and founder of the festival.  Bigfoot challenged the kids (and the "big kids") to slow down and ride through the middle of the muddy trail, instead of around it, as to not widen the trail and trample vegetation along side the trail unnecessarily.  
Finally, at the end of the festival, one lucky winner named Sunny, was jumping for joy as she went home with a brand new North Face Daypack.  Sunny became a member of Leave No Trace over the weekend and she couldn't help but be excited about all of the fun she had at the festival, and the good feeling she has from helping to support Leave No Trace programs.  Just look at her excitement!  Thank you to The North Face for their continued support of Leave No Trace, and a special thank you to our host Robert Arrieta, for a fun week full of outreach in Ocala, FL.
Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's National Environmental Education Week!

Teach others to walk through the middle of a muddy trail, instead of around it, to avoid unnecessary erosion and trampling of vegetation along side the trial.

In an age where technology seemingly tethers people to their electronic devices more and more, connecting kids and adults to the natural world is crucial.  With spring right around the corner, this is the perfect time of year to get others excited about spending time in nature.  According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, being outside in nature makes people feel more alive.  This week is National Environmental Education Week!  If you are in a position to get people excited about being in the natural world, we have many useful resources and activities available on the Leave No Trace website.  Whether you are a school teacher, involved in a youth-serving organization, work for a guide or outfitter service, work in a park system, or just love to share information with others- check out the website for inspiring ideas on how to teach others about Leave No Trace and respecting the outdoors where you play.
Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Get out and PLAY!

San Antonio, Texas:

This past Sunday we stumbled upon Síclovía, a truly worthwhile event. Síclovía is an offshoot of Ciclovía a program originally developed in Bogatá, Columbia. City streets are closed to car traffic in order to allow the community to play and exercise in a safe, social environment. In Bogatá this practice has become so popular that over 70 miles of streets are open to these outdoor recreation festivals.

We joined families, dog walkers, bikers, runners, and strollers sharing their public space and connecting like never before. As if not awesome enough, local organizations offered free programs along the route including strong men and women challenges, yoga classes, dance lessons, live music, and all types kid friendly activities.

This is a perfect example of how a community can build a sense of ownership among its members, and nurture a blossoming love for the outdoors, especially with the youth of the population. Experiencing the out of doors in our own neighborhood will cultivate a culture of respect and love for the public spaces that need our stewardship. Get outside and PLAY!

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Monday, March 5, 2012

Protecting the Barrier Islands

Ocean Springs, MS.  Last week we spent a few days exploring the Mississippi Gulf Coast along the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  The nation's longest National Seashore, Gulf Islands spans from Mississippi to Florida and is home to a wide variety of cultural and natural resources.  With its beautiful emerald waters and sparkling white sand beaches, the seashore sees over 4 million visitors every year.  Some of the more fascinating features of the park are the barrier islands, a chain of islands off the coast that harbor migrating birds, plant life that can endure the pounding of hurricane force winds, and numerous sea creatures, including the crowd favorite- Sea Turtles.  Two of the islands, Petit Bois and Horn Islands, are federally-designated Wilderness Areas.  As the park moves to improve their Wilderness Management Plan, we were called in to provide a full day training for the staff, as well as some local partners from MS and AL, to explore the seven principles and concepts of Leave No Trace.
We spent the day with 15 NPS staff, both from the MS Gulf and the FL Gulf, guides from South Coast Paddling, a Scout Master and Leave No Trace Master Educator, and a woman from the Mobile, AL.  All of the participants were engaged in learning about the various programs offered through the Center, the resources available, activities to learn about the seven principles, and how to effectively communicate Leave No Trace to people they interact with. The park is excited to incorporate Leave No Trace further into their Wilderness Management Plan in order to help protect and preserve the beautiful resource that is the Gulf Islands National Seashore!
Enjoy the slideshow from our day of training.

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Friday, March 2, 2012

We ALL live downstream.

Everywhere, USA:

We recently saw a great bumper sticker. "We ALL live downstream". We often teach how we have lost our connection to the natural world. This disconnect allows us to separate our actions from their consequences. Or worse yet, to not think of our consequences at all.

We were visiting McKinney Falls State Park and happened upon this picturesque cascade. In the small pool in the lower center of the photo you'll notice a perfect example of nonpoint source pollution. This is pollution that is carried by nature, gathered and transported away from the source where it originally became a contaminant. It's like having someone litter on your doorstep from miles away.

We inquired to the park manager about the gyre of debris by the falls. He stated that what we saw on this day was miniscule in comparison to the amount that would FILL the entire pool after a day of rain. Educating ourselves to have the knowledge of the consequence that may result from our action will hopefully change the way we act. The previous owners of all this litter seemingly have lost their connection to the natural world. Rekindle your connection. Educate yourself and others to Leave No Trace.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Howard School Inspires

Kate teaches the students about Respecting Wildlife
 Atlanta, GA.  Last week we visited The Howard School in Atlanta, GA.  This fascinating school believes in treating each student as an individual, maximizing on independent learning and individual attention.  As we arrived on Friday morning, we could sense the energy and excitement in the air.  Many of the students worked with former Traveling Trainer team, Jason and Agata, last year, so they were eager to learn more about Leave No Trace again this year.  
When we go to schools, we hope to inspire the students to get outside and to learn to protect the places they play and enjoy.  Well, we have to say, on this visit to The Howard School we were the ones inspired.  The students were so passionate about caring for the outdoors and to tell others about Leave No Trace, that they were attentive, engaged, and embraced the information we told them.  One student, nature name "Butterfly", raised her hand to say, "I wish I was a piece of trash, so then I could pick myself up!"  That comment made our day.
We shared information with students about respecting wildlife, choosing the right path, ways to trash your trash, and how to prepare for a hike and know before you go! These students have a wonderfully enriching school, including gardens on the school grounds to build an awareness and appreciation for the natural world.  We were so happy to be invited back to The Howard School and hope to be back again to work with these amazing students.

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy
The gardens at The Howard School

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Combine and WIN!

Colorado Bend State Park, Texas:

We've tried to get this quasi-sport to happen for us and until recently it just had not panned out. This past weekend the stars aligned and finally we can say that we bike-backpacked! Thank you Colorado Bend State Park for allowing the combination of two great things. One point of advice... bring your padded bike shorts, or be ready for some intense bicycle butt.

Recreate your recreation,
Mark and Tara

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Partnership in Action

Cortez, CO.  A long standing partner and supporter of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Osprey Packs, Inc.  holds a Kid's Essay Contest every year.  This year, Osprey is seeking great writing that highlights kid's very best adventures with a pack and demonstrates an understanding of the principles of Leave No Trace.  The winner of the contest has their choice of a pack in the Sprint Series- all of which have the seven Leave No Trace principles screened into the pack.  Here is the first winning essay from the contest:   

Our latest Kid's Essay Contest Winner
Justin Todes!

A Life-Changing Experience
By Justin Todes (15 yrs. old)

                As a Cub Scout, I always enjoyed camping in the outdoors.  I loved nature’s sounds, sights, and opportunities.  I worked my way up to Wolf and Bear before entering Webelos, when my love for the outdoors only grew.  Campouts were now once a month instead of twice a year, and the activities were increasingly exciting.
                The two amazing years of Webelos went by quickly, and it was soon time for me to join a Boy Scout Troop.  In April of 2008, I joined Troop 599, The Thunderbirds, and easily fell in love with Boy Scouting.  Now Scouting was more independent, more fun, and more meaningful.  Later that year, I was introduced to backpacking at a Wilderness Survival outing.  At this time, I did not know much about how or what to pack, or even the concept of backpacking.  Due to much discomfort from my gear and poor packing method, the outing was not a pleasurable experience.  This however, did not halt my backpacking endeavors.  Our Troop soon began educating us on proper backpacking, with emphasis on Leave No Trace, which motivated me to get back up and give it another chance as I began doing training hikes in late 2009 for a backpacking journey in mid-2010.  I had learned how to pack light (packing light is packing right), as well as what was essential to pack (and what is not).  This led to a comfortable backpacking experience, and I soon began to fall in love with backpacking.
                In July of 2010, I ventured off with a crew of 11 others from my Scout Troop to Philmont Scout Ranch, a vast, scenic, mountainous piece of land in northern New Mexico.  Two weeks of beautiful country lie ahead of us, and with those two weeks, 65 miles of backpacking.  I was Crew Leader, which added to my experience at Philmont in a very positive way, teaching me leadership and patience, in addition to some new outdoor skills.  Day by day, we hiked through Philmont, summiting mesas and mountains, crossing creeks (sometimes as many as fifty-three times), and enjoying the lush, green forests surrounding us.
                For our first three days at Philmont, a ranger guided us and taught our crew how to do things “The Philmont Way.”  This essentially came from the seven principles of Leave No Trace.  Specifically at Philmont, each campsite has a “Bearmuda Triangle.”  In one corner of the “triangle” is the fire ring and dining fly.  In another corner are bear lines on which bear bags are hung (smellables go in the bear bags).  In the final corner, for proper disposal of waste, is a sump.  A sump strains wastewater, storing the water in the ground and leaving food particles, etc. to be properly disposed of.    Fifty feet away from the dining fly was the tent area.  The sump was at least 200 feet away from the tents.
Our ranger taught how to hang bear bags, to protect us from the bears and to protect the bears from becoming dependent on human food.  This in a sense falls under Respecting Wildlife.  Our ranger also taught us about campfires.  We learned that fires only should be made in a fire ring (concentrated impact), and that the fire must be completely put out once everyone goes to bed.  The next morning, the ashes from the fire must be scattered along the trail for the first thirty minutes of hiking.  Finally, we learned about waste.  “Pack it in, pack it out” is a common phrase in the backcountry, especially at Philmont.  Any trash we produced had to come with us until we reached a staffed camp, where we could dispose of it.  However, minimizing waste is not as simple as this.  It also relates to the Bearmuda Triangle.
Meals the Philmont way were not exactly pleasant.  The “just add water” food was fine.  It was later on, after eating, when things got ugly.  To reduce waste (or at least waste we carried out), we had to pour water into our bowls after we were “finished” and drink the water, food particles and all.  I quickly learned how to drink this while avoiding my tongue.  Anything else left in our bowls was licked clean before washing.  With our pots, two crewmembers each night were given the torturous task of pot scraping.  This task involved eating any food left in the pot, and then scraping the pot clean (eating your scrapings as well).  The remaining bits in the pot were later removed with boiling water.  Using the sump, the water was strained.  The food particles on top of the sump’s screen went into “yum-yum bags,” special Zip-loc bags with the task of collecting these food particles, which were carried out as trash.  While minimizing waste was not necessarily fun, our crew managed to survive the two weeks of drinking cheese-water, oatmeal-water, Mexican beef fajita water, among several others.
Despite drinking these mysterious concoctions, the scenery was amazing.  Whether tall mountains, spacious canyons, or trickling streams, we still want to preserve the beauty contained within each.  Leave No Trace is an extremely important element of being in the outdoors.  Philmont was a gift that God gave to us.  Our way of thanking God is to maintain Philmont.  By implementing Leave No Trace, Philmont can and will be maintained.  Leave No Trace is what makes it possible for the land today to still exist for generations to come.  Just as those who have come before us have kept Philmont beautiful, we too can play a part and do the same.
Justin won an Aether 70 Men's Lightweight Pack.

To find out more about the essay contest, click here.
Thank you to Osprey for their continued support and to all of you that practice Leave No Trace!

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Getting the Whole Picture:

Whole Earth Provision Company, Dallas, Texas.

We always love when people get the whole picture. We visited the Dallas Whole Earth Provision Company earlier this week, and will be at both their Austin store on Lamar and main offices coming up this Wednesday the 29th. The attendees to our program will be hitting trails and green spaces in their communities with a better understanding of how to interact with other outdoor lovers that might need a little help in leaving less of a trace. What people want, we try to provide, and the folks in Dallas were looking for a bit more insight into Authority of the Resource. Ever wonder how to approach someone who might be impacting mother nature, or another visitor's experience? Check out the article linked above and hone your soft skills on behalf of the planet.

If you can't make our Whole Earth Provision workshop in Austin, we'll also be at their San Antonio store coming up on March 5th. Did we mention those who attend our Whole Earth workshops will get a $10 gift certificate to use in the store? Not that you need any more motivation than a good solid love for the out of doors;) See you there.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Texas Trainers:

Pedernales Falls and McKinney Falls State Parks, Texas.

Team West of the Subaru / Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers have been adding to the faithful ranks of Trainers in the Lone Star State. Trainer Courses were held at Pedernales Falls State Park and McKinney Falls State Park last week. Our participants are heavily involved in serving the recreating public. City of Austin Park Rangers will be taking outdoor ethics to the green spaces and bike paths that keep that city outside and playing. Scouting leaders are returning to their troops and families with expanded tool kits to effectively plant the seed of stewardship with our younger generations. Camp Fire USA staff will have more activities to keep kids critically thinking outside, rather than plugged in inside. Folks at Texas Outdoor Family will have the chance to instill the ideas of the Seven Leave No Trace Principles to those who may be just forming their own outdoor ethic. Tara and Mark have truly enjoyed facilitating these courses that will allow all of the participants to share the idea of responsible recreation with those they care about, and those they have not yet met.

A special thanks to Nick Hirsch and Lindsey Davis for providing the legwork for these trainings to occur. Without people to put an idea into action, there is only an idea. Thank you!

Recreate your recreation,
Mark and Tara

Monday, February 20, 2012

Outreach at Georgia Tech

Atlanta, GA.  Today, Team East is going back to college!  That's right, we are visiting Georgia Institute of Technology- Georgia Tech- to work with the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORGT) on campus.  ORGT offers numerous programs throughout the year, from caving to backpacking, kayaking to rock climbing.  As one of the best outdoor programs in the country, ORGT is dedicated to educating their students about the skills and ethics of Leave No Trace.
Outdoor Recreation Programs, like ORGT, have an opportunity to be a positive influence in many university students' lives.  By incorporating leave no trace education into their already existing outdoor programs, ORGT can instill a strong outdoor ethic in their students and help build the cadre of life-long stewards of the land.
Tonight, Team East will be at the ORGT, located in the back of the Campus Recreation Center, for an awareness workshop to train their guides and staff.  The program begins at 6pm.  On Tuesday evening, we will offer a second workshop for anyone who is interested in learning about Leave No Trace and the outdoor programs at ORGT.  Come on down to the Campus Recreation Center at 6pm!

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Monday, February 13, 2012

Plastic Water Bottle Ban at Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, AZ.   Every one of us can make a difference by making small changes to better the environment.  This past week,  Grand Canyon National Park passed a plan to ban the sales of individual plastic water bottles at the park.  The park's plan calls for the elimination of the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers of less than one gallon, including plastic bottles and various types of boxes.  The waste associated with disposable bottles comprises an estimated 20 percent of the park's overall waste stream and 30 percent of the park's recyclables.

 The park has seen an increased amount of trash along the rim trails and strewn about the inner canyon.  Seeing trash can diminish the experience of enjoying the view from the rim and the overall experience of visitors to the park.  With close to 5 million annual visitors to the canyon, it is so important to practice Leave No Trace and dispose of waste properly!  To read more about the plan, click here.

Next time you visit the Grand Canyon, be sure to bring your reusable water bottle.  Better yet, every time you are outdoors, make a difference by using a reusable water bottle!    

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy