Seventh Class of American Hiking Society’s NextGen Trail Leaders Announced

SILVER SPRING, MD – March 13, 2024 —American Hiking Society is pleased to announce the 2024 class of NextGen Trail Leaders, bringing together rising stars in the outdoor community from across the country. Through American Hiking Society, NextGen Trail Leaders will speak out to elected officials and engage the millions-strong hiking community on the need to protect public lands and build more inclusive outdoor recreation opportunities. The 2024 class of NextGen Trail Leaders features inspiring change-makers, who are transforming their communities and the national conversation. 

Over the course of the year, NextGen Trail Leaders will engage with 100s of thousands of social media followers, meet face-to-face with elected officials at Hike the Hill®, and contribute sweat equity to the trails through American Hiking’s National Trails Day® and Volunteer Vacations, inspiring the next generation of outdoor leaders and volunteers.

“It is so exciting to announce the seventh class of the NextGen Trail Leader program! This program brings together rising stars from all walks of life and across the country in the outdoor community,” explained Heather Klein Olson, Executive Director of American Hiking Society. “American Hiking’s NextGen Trail Leaders are empowered to be a mighty voice for hikers, speaking out on key issues to elected officials and the public, helping to build a more inclusive outdoor community, and encouraging all to protect public lands and preserve trail access now and for future generations. Year after year, I’m continually impressed by what the NextGen Trail Leaders can accomplish, and our organization is so grateful for their commitment to public lands and their passion to inspire others to take action to preserve the trails we love.”

These five, competitively-selected NextGen Trail Leaders will bring their passion and diverse experiences to join American Hiking in our mission to build an inclusive movement amongst the next generation to be stewards of, and advocates for, the lands they love.

  • Meital Kupfer (They/Them): Meital is an avid hiker and climber. They spent the last seven years living and working in Uganda, and returned to the United States in 2023 to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. They now live and work in Washington, DC. Meital wants to continue the pursuit of equity in the outdoors by building skills and forging connections between and within communities.
  • Blanca Iris Moreno Jara (She/Her): Blanca arrived in Utah at the end of 2003. The first thing she noticed were the enormous mountains of Salt Lake City. Right then and there, she knew that one day she would hike every one of them. Blanca is the creator of the Facebook Group page “Hiking en Utah.” She created this page in May of 2019. It was her need for a hiking community that motivated her to create this group. Her dream has become a reality.
  • Jonathon Flores (He/Him): Jonathan is an American born and of Indigenous Mexican descent of the Chichimeca Jonaz (Zacateco). Born and Raised in North East Los Angeles, CA., Jonathan comes from a working class family, who never had time to do many of the outdoorsy things that other families embarked on. It wasn’t until he was an adult and had a family of his own that the narrative of exploring the outdoors became something therapeutic for him physically, mentally, and spiritually. Since starting this journey, Jonathan founded Outdoor Adventures+, a BIPoC outdoor group focused on educating and curating experiences for the community, connecting people to nature with every adventure.
  • Natalie Matias (She/Her): Natalie Matias is a queer, first generation Latina, born and raised in Miami, Florida to a Honduran mother and Puerto Rican father. Growing up, she spent much of her time riding ATV’s, camping, fishing, canoeing, and exploring places like the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park. In 2022, she began working as a Park Ranger for the National Park Service and recently moved to the Bay Area with her partner to establish roots. She hopes to continue to connect people to the natural and cultural resources that most interest them as she transitions into the non-profit conservation field in the Bay Area.
  • Brianna Cunningham (She/Her): Brianna is a proud IE (Inland Empire) native who thrives in outdoor activities, particularly hiking, camping, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Brianna is committed to fostering inclusivity and equity in the hiking community, especially for Queer BIPOC individuals, believing in the transformative power of nature. Through personal experiences and advocacy, she promotes outdoor exploration as a means of healing and positive change.


Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national 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