National Trails Day: Ice Age Trail Alliance, Lodi Valley Chapter

Every year, American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day (NTD) attracts thousands of Americans to participate in family-friendly outdoor activities across the country.  A great majority of these events are organized by local clubs or chapters of larger trail or recreation organizations.  Since 2002, the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Lodi Valley Chapter (IATA LVC) has celebrated National Trails Day, helping the organization achieve important fundraising targets, while growing their constituent network in the process.

Joanna Kramer Fanney, coordinator of the Lodi Valley Chapter, explains that the larger Ice Age Trail Alliance celebrates National Trails Day by organizing “special hikes” in many of its 21 chapters across the state of Wisconsin.  These hikes help promote family fitness on local trails, increase awareness of the Ice Age Trail, and recruit volunteers for the organization.  In recent years, more IATA chapters have joined in celebrating National Trails Day and are now leveraging the event in a fundraising capacity; so much so, that for some chapters, it is the main fundraising event of the year. According to Fanney, “Most of the hikes and/or runs are fundraisers and generate anywhere from $100 to $5000 for our statewide organization or the local chapter.”

As an example, the Lodi Valley Chapter of the IATA hosts the Mammoth Fun Run & Hike on National Trails Day, the main fundraiser for LVC. Proceeds from the event are used to help build, maintain, and promote the Ice Age Trail.  Most recently, funds have been used for removing invasive plants; purchasing, maintaining, and fueling tools; assisting with an 8-acre prairie restoration project on the Gibraltar Segment; helping build new Trail at Gibraltar Rock; and supporting Saunters, a nationally-recognized school “education through hiking” program that started with students in the Lodi School District, and continues to grow in other districts throughout the state.  Since LVC’s first 2-mile hike in 2002, their annual National Trails Day event has grown to include a 6K & 8K run, 6K hike, and 1K kids run with close to 100 participants. “The atmosphere is quite festive, a lively Trail Party!” remarks Fanney.

[quote author=”Joanna Fanney”]National Trails Day 2014 was one of the best years ever for the Lodi Valley Chapter. We saw increased participation, increased sponsorship, and more donations on event day.[/quote]

From the hundreds of people that come outside to attend the hikes, IATA succeeds each year in gaining new memberships, building positive relationships with local and regional businesses, publicity in local newspapers and a lot of intangible “good will” from people having a good time.  It also helps the chapters focus on getting Ice Age Trail segments in good condition prior to the event and the summer hiking season.

According to Fanney, “National Trails Day 2014 was one of the best years ever for the Lodi Valley Chapter. We saw increased participation, increased sponsorship, and more donations on event day.” The LVC generated over 150 volunteer hours preparing for and hosting the Mammoth Fun Run & Hike.  They also raised several thousand dollars in advance sponsorship and event day donations to put towards their mission to maintain and protect the Ice Age Trail.

National Trails Day event registration is open to any and all organizations interested in promoting increased trail use and stewardship as important community objectives.  If you are part of a group or organization that would like to host a National Trails Day event, please visit www.NationalTrailsDay.org for further details.