From the Executive Director: Moved By Nature. United By Trails

July 07, 2021
Joshua Howard
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


From the Executive Director: Moved By Nature. United By Trails
Morris County Trail. Photo by Kevin Murphy


By now, our Moved by Nature, United by Trails slogan has come through your inbox once or twice and you’ve seen it in a couple of previous Trail Walkers. I have heard so many positive responses to this messaging. It has resonated with our members, volunteers, staff, and supporters. When I reflect on my outdoor life and the world that we all live in, I questioned if this slogan is accurate. Are we really united by trails? What does “moved by nature” mean? The more I thought about this idea and challenged the notion, the clearer my thoughts became.

When we have such stark divides between red and blue or black and white, the idea that the natural world—the places where trails exist without bias or preference to who uses them—needs to become a sanctuary. The idea that trails can unite us is an aspiration. It is the destination that we strive for.

Trail Conference stalwarts, our longtime members and volunteers, are believers. For 100 years, they have ignored their differences and concentrated on their similarities: being moved by nature.

Life is not static. The world we live in is constantly changing, as are the faces of the people we see heading out to enjoy nature. Many of these new visitors are not looking to climb the highest peaks or hike the longest trails. The world of social media and technology has now exposed most of the “hidden gems” that trail lovers and outdoor enthusiasts have enjoyed alone for years to the masses. However, as veteran lovers of the outdoors, it is our responsibility to be welcoming ambassadors for those who are now starting their journey on being moved by nature.

It is not our mission to solve society’s woes. However, if painting blazes, clipping branches, and offering a smile to someone we see on a trail can help, then yes: It’s time we are united by trails.

Joshua Howard
Executive Director
[email protected]