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, 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