SILVER SPRING, MD – American Hiking Society is pleased to announce the first class of NextGen Trail Leaders, who will be the voice of early-to-mid career advocates pressing elected officials and the public to protect, fund, and care for our public lands.
The NextGen Trail Leaders will unite in our nation’s capital February 11–14 to represent the voice of American Hiking members, supporters, and the millions of Americans who value our public lands and trails. Hike the Hill®, now in its 21st year, brings trail organizations from across the country to Washington, D.C. to hammer out solutions to emerging issues, forge legislation, and set goals for the future of our trails, from paved, urban walkways to remote, wilderness paths. Hikers will meet with Congress, federal partners, and fellow trail organizations.
These five NextGen Trail Leaders will bring their passion and diverse experiences to call on Congress and the Trump Administration to protect and fund public lands and will build a movement amongst the next generation to be stewards of the lands they love, not just passive users.
- Maricela Rosales, CA: Maricela Rosales is an advocate, influencer, and volunteer. As Latino Outdoors’ Outdoor Brands & Los Angeles Coordinator, she connects underserved communities to their local parks, organizing monthly outings and expanding accessibility to different types of outdoor recreation. She assists her community and organization to culturally connect Latino families and children to the outdoors and supports the next generation of Latino leadership.
- Ron Griswell, NC: After seeing the lack of diversity in his day-to-day line of work and in multiple outdoor conferences, a flame was ignited in Ron to make a change. Ron re-enrolled at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, a predominately black institution of higher learning, where he is currently a graduating Senior, studying Business Management while hosting outdoor recreational activities as the Program Assistant for the Campus Recreation Center.
- Tyler Lee, CO: Tyler Lee has worked in the outdoor conservation industry for over six years; he currently works seasonally for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as a Wilderness Ranger in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Tyler helped bring to fruition the Wilderness Stewards program in Central Idaho – a collaborative effort between the USFS and the Idaho Conservation League to encourage the public to take an active role in stewarding their public lands, from clearing trails to picking up trash.
- Dakota Jacskon, MA: After receiving her degree in Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College, Dakota thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2015. While on the Trail, she wrote for the website The Trek and participated in Kincora Hardcore trail maintenance. Dakota lives in Boston, where she works as a Museum Collections Specialist, working to engage a more diverse and youthful audience in museums and American history, and shining a light on events of historical significance that have taken place on our nation’s trails.
- Liz Thomas, CA: Liz Thomas is among the most experienced female hikers in the United States and is known for backpacking light, fast and solo. In 2011, she broke the women’s unsupported speed record on the 2,181-mile long Appalachian Trail, besting the previous record by almost a week. Her book, Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike, won the National Outdoor Book Award, which called it “destined to become the ‘bible’ of the sport.” Liz is also an American Hiking Society Ambassador.
(Full bios and pictures available here: https://americanhiking.org/advocacy/introducing-nextgen-leaders/)
“We are thrilled to launch the NextGen Trail Leaders program, which empowers rising stars to be a mighty voice for protecting the places we love to hike and making more inclusive the outdoor community,” explained, Kate Van Waes, Executive Director of American Hiking Society. “I am truly in awe of them and know that the millions of us across the country who care so deeply about our public lands will benefit greatly from their leadership and will be inspired to do our part to care for these sacred spaces.”
About American Hiking Society
Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national, recreation-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas and the hiking experience. To learn more about American Hiking Society and its mission and programs, visit https://americanhiking.org/ or call (800) 972-8608.