From the Executive Director: What Comes Next

December 15, 2021
Joshua Howard, Executive Director
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


From the Executive Director: What Comes Next
Twin and Sugarloaf mountains in the winter. Photo credit: Steve Aaron


To remain an impactful organization, we need to grow and evolve. There is a delicate balance of old and new.

What do you do for the encore to a Centennial celebration? That’s a tough question to answer, considering the Trail Conference has successfully fulfilled its mission of providing access to the best system of trails for the public for 100 years. To remain an impactful organization, we need to grow and evolve. There is a delicate balance of old and new. Innovative solutions are required for new challenges; however, we also need to remain grounded in what has made us so successful for the past century.

As we look forward to 2022, I’m excited to see our organization continuing to fulfill the promise of empowering everyone who seeks nature to find safe, enjoyable access through trails. We continue to honor our past with a strong and vibrant volunteer program, which is supported and enhanced by our growing Conservation Corps and the service members who make a similar commitment to our mission.

As you read through this edition of Trail Walker, you will see our achievements from the past year and our ambitions for the year to come. While our trail work season may be winding down, the staff and volunteers are busy preparing for next year’s projects.

That planning not only includes our work for 2022 but also prepares the organization as a whole to find success in its second century. We have begun reviewing and revising our strategic plan; we are assessing the tools and technologies we use to support our programs, and we are investing in our volunteers with a reinvigorated Trail University.

Excitement is palpable from our Conservation Dogs team and their successful training of a new dog, multiplying our ability to fight the emerging invasive species that are threatening the lands we love. Our outreach and education efforts are reaching more trail users than ever before through our website, books, and maps, and trailhead and summit Stewards. And I would be remiss without recognizing the amazing work of our trail volunteers like the Long Distance Trails Crew, who keep building amazing trails like the new Upper Nyack Trail on Hook Mountain.

The future of the Trail Conference is just as promising and exciting today for our new leaders like Amy Arato, Michael Pashley, and Rich Rockwell, as it was to Major Welch, Raymond Torrey, and Ashton Allis atop the Abercrombie & Fitch building when they met and formed the Trail Conference back in 1920. I can’t wait to see what comes next for our amazing organization.

Joshua Howard
Executive Director