Text and photos by Andrea Minoff, Trail Conference volunteer
Over the past several years, I have participated in several outreach events in Westchester County for the Trail Conference. If you are a not a “boots on the ground” kind of person, ie. someone who likes to go out on the trails and get dirty, this is a fun and casual way to give of yourself for the benefit of the organization. That is pretty much why I got involved. My partner Chris Reyling, Crew Chief for the Long Distance Trails Crew, was encouraging me to be more active in volunteering for the Trail Conference. I said I like to talk and I ended up becoming an ambassador for the organization. (I also ended up becoming Assistant to the Crew Chief, but I digress.)
So what exactly does one do at an outreach table? The Trail Conference arranges to have a booth at outdoor events around the region. The canopy on the one we use in Westchester has a large banner in front that says, “Ask us where to hike!” That draws people in, and you take it from there. To start the conversation, I usually ask them where they live and their level of familiarity with hiking. We are primarily there to convey information–to educate the public about the Trail Conference and to encourage folks to get outdoors and enjoy nature. But the conversation often results in the sale of maps, books, and memberships… and sometimes I recruit a new volunteer!
To date this summer, I have participated in two very successful outreach efforts in Westchester: the Hastings-on-Hudson Street Fair on Main Street, held the evening of June 12, and the Clearwater Revival Music Festival at Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson, on the weekend of June 20-21. Between the two events, almost 50 maps, books, and memberships were sold. But perhaps more importantly, I had conversations with hundreds of potential and current hikers about the Trail Conference and exploring the outdoors. (A bonus benefit of serving at the Clearwater Festival is that you get to hear some really good music!)
I enjoyed working with and meeting some new fellow volunteers. Thanks to those who staffed the booth at the two events–Carol Ann Benton, Jane and Walt Daniels, Carolyn Hoffman, Jane Levenson, David Margulis, Gloria Neil, and Raina Stoutenburg–and to East Hudson Program Coordinator Hank Osborn for the staff support in organizing the Clearwater effort.
The Trail Conference has booths at events all across the region to increase public awareness of what we do for the hiking public. So share your love of hiking and help at an event near you. The Trail Conference provides training and pairs you with an experienced outreach volunteer. If you have a suggestion for a possible outreach appearance or would like to volunteer, please email Volunteer Coordinator John Leigh: firstname.lastname@example.org.