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.

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