ATC workshop 2

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has been paying close attention to how demographic changes will impact the recreational use and preservation of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,190-mile footpath that extends along the US East Coast, from Georgia to Maine.

They asked us to partner with them on a research and strategy project to:

  • Support their 5-Year Broader Relevancy Goal and strategic vision

  • Audit and synthesize existing programs, research, and their internal organization

  • Identify opportunities to engage with a younger and more diverse audience, with the goal of protecting the trail for future generations

atc circle
"It was absolutely wonderful working with the Punk Ave team. They helped synergize our thoughts and ideas around this complex strategic goal and provided a solid recommendation on how to move forward. Their input helped us move forward on a path to connect and engage with a younger more inclusive audience to the Appalachian Trail and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy."
— Javier Folgar, Director of Marketing and Communications

Our Work

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is fortunate to work with a very dedicated and talented team. They needed our help to process the work that had already been done, facilitate conversation between the organization and its partners, highlight opportunities, and make recommendations for their next steps forward. We did this through:

  • Audit of Existing Materials & Research
    We dug into secondary research materials provided by the ATC team, its partners and peer organizations related to demographics and diversity in the outdoors. This set a foundation for our primary research, which focused more closely on the Appalachian Trail and its internal team.

  • Interviews & Surveys
    Our team reached out to program partners, expert advisors in the field, and members of their organization spanning 14 states along the Appalachian Trail.

  • Workshop
    We facilitated a workshop with over 50 elementary school teachers enrolled in the Trails to Every Classroom Institute (TTEC), who were looking for tools, training and resources to engage their students (our future generations), in place-based service learning on the Appalachian Trail and local community. 

atc presentation
atc vision sheet
atc workshop 4
ATC individual vision
ATC individual vision 2

The Outcome

Our work was shared with the ATC through a series of presentations to the staff and board, and resulted in the following:

  • An established shared vocabulary
    Generated shared definitions and understandings organizationally around outcomes, goals and terms like “broader relevancy” and “difference."
  • Measurable goals and desired outcomes
    Identified measures of success and desired outcomes for the ATC’s 5-Year Broader Relevancy Goal and long-term goals.
  • Empowerment and action through information
    Provided insights and information that supports future decision-making, particularly around topics with tension or little consensus.
  • Building blocks towards a shared vision
    Identified the need for and facilitated preliminary conversations around creating a shared vision for the Appalachian Trail itself in the 21st century – one that is true to its founding, relevant to communities today and inclusive, while not alienating or changing the experience for existing devoted audiences.
  • Recommendations to maximize internal resources
    "No organization can do on the outside what it can’t do on the inside, first.” - Peter Forbes
    Recommendations for the organization internally (i.e. shared metrics, opportunities for employee growth, hiring practices, policy adjustments, continuation of successful partnerships and programs).
  • Recommendations to connect to new audiences and build deeper relationships with existing ones
    Recommendations for engaging new, young and diverse audiences with the Appalachian Trail and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, as well as maintaining current relationships and maximizing the power of trail clubs across 14 states.
“The research by P'unk Ave was very helpful to ATC in helping us set priorities.”
— Julie Judkins, Director of Education and Outreach
ATC vision
ATC vision 2

Through our work, we provided crucial insights and strategic recommendations that elevate the work of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and prioritize organizational goals, programs and partnerships that will help them achieve their broader relevancy goals, externally and internally.

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Rachel Emery
Director of Partnerships