American Hiking Society is pleased to announce the second class of NextGen Trail Leaders, bringing together rising stars in the outdoor community from all walks of life and across the country. With American Hiking Society, NextGen Trail Leaders will champion diversity in the outdoors and fight to protect our public lands, amplifying the voices of hikers all across America. The 2019 class of NextGen Trail Leaders features inspiring individuals who are already transforming their communities and changing the national conversation on diversity in the outdoors and public lands protection.
Over the course of the year, NextGen Trail Leaders will meet face-to-face with elected officials at Hike the Hill® to advocate for public lands and diversification of trail access, give back to public lands through National Trails Day® and Volunteer Vacations, share their experiences through social media, and inspire a more inclusive and service-oriented hiking community.
Kicking of the program, the NextGen Trail Leaders will unite in our nation’s capital February 11–14 at Hike the Hill® 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 and partner 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 bear in calling 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.
Bam Mendiola, WA: Bam Mendiola is a national speaker, published writer, and diversity consultant. They seek to #expandthenarrative of those outside to include members of targeted communities and their work has recently been featured by NBC, REI, and the Race and Pedagogy National Conference. On social media, their NBC documentary has received over 200,000 views and their essays have been featured on the covers of Washington Trails and Mountaineer Magazine. You can find Bam climbing stratovolcanoes in the PNW near their home on the ancestral lands of the Duwamish (currently known as Seattle, Washington) or on Instagram (@mynameisbam). Pronouns: they, them, theirs.
Adam Tobey, UT: A Utah transplant from Virginia, Adam fell in love with the mountain landscape upon visiting the West and developed an immediate passion for protecting it. Together with his spouse, he founded Arcadia Guided Outdoor Education, which offers adventure camps and backpacking trips for young people and focuses on the teaching and practice of Leave No Trace principles both in the wilderness and in local communities. He also serves the Center for Outdoor Ethics as the Utah State Advocate for Leave No Trace. Aside from finding great enjoyment hiking, backpacking, and trail running in the mountains, Adam also enjoys climbing and mountaineering and teaches climbing classes at a local gym. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Christian Education and Formation and serves the Presbyterian Church (USA) as a Youth Director. This unique background enables Adam to weave theological and ecological ideas together as he teaches in the pulpit, woods, and everywhere in between.
Amanda “Zuul” Jameson, CO: Amanda “Zuul” Jameson discovered long-distance trails just over five years ago, and has centered her life around the long-distance hiking community, outdoor education, and public lands since then. While she’s hiked over 3,500 miles on the Colorado Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and half of the Grand Enchantment Trail, she’s more focused on giving back. She has volunteered on a panel at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Show for the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, shaken down dozens of packs at the now-defunct ADZPCTKO, run panels for the American Long Distance Hiking Association – West, and raised thousands of dollars for charity during her hikes. Her blog, Brown Girl on the NST, documents her hikes with attention to her position as a black woman.
Kaci Stringer, KS: Kaci Stringer is a self-described “small-town chick” from Kansas with a true passion for hiking and volunteering on trails across America, including multiple Volunteer Vacations and hosting National Trails Day® events. She’s a nature-loving, adventure enthusiast seeking to positively promote the outdoors through personal experiences and her camera lens. Kaci loves chasing waterfalls after a good rain and tracking down the best places for sunset views. Most of the time, when exploring, you can find her in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Kaci enjoys all outdoor activities and is happiest among wild places.
Karen Ramos, CA: Born on the Central Coast of California Karen spent her younger years following the crops and migrating across the state with her parents. At a young age, she learned the various seasons by the produce that was being cultivated, being a migrant-indigenous child deeply impacted her bond with the outdoors, education, and identity. So much so, that when she saw the need for more inclusive outdoor leadership she took the plunge and founded a nonprofit, Get Out Stay Out. Get Out Stay Out is a youth-led 501(c)3 nonprofit serving the indigenous-migrant community on the central coast by creating opportunities to engage with the outdoors through unstructured play and independent learning. GOSO focus on using the outdoors environment as a catalyst for social change and inspiring self-development.
Karen is also the founder of NatureChola, a personal blog and social media platform where she uses storytelling to deconstruct the current dominant narrative of what it means to be an “outdoors-person”, her work has been featured in REI, Merrell, Thermarest, and various other blogs and media outlets.
Karen is currently a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
(Full bios and pictures available at https://americanhiking.org/advocacy/introducing-the-2019-nextgen-trail-leaders/)
“We are thrilled to launch the second class of NextGen Trail Leaders, building on the success of our inaugural class. The NextGen Trail Leaders program 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 what they have, and will, accomplish and know that the millions of us across the country who care so deeply about our public lands will be inspired by their leadership to take action themselves to protect these sacred spaces.”
American Hiking Society’s NextGen Trail Leader program is made possible through the generous support of Columbia Sportswear, REI Co-Op, Adventure Medical Kits, Merrell, and the Jane and Walt Daniels Foundation.
About American Hiking Society
Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national, recreation-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering all to enjoy, share, and preserve the hiking experience.
To learn more about American Hiking Society and its mission and programs, visit https://americanhiking.org/ or call (800) 972-8608.