If you’ve visited the new trails at San Vicente Redwoods or witnessed the rebuilding of Big Basin’s accessibility, you have the good people with Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship (SCMTS) to thank.
Founded in 1997, and initially known as the “Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz,” this 501(c)(3) builds and maintains trails and connects communities to nature through responsible outdoor recreation. Their commitment to improving representation, equity and accessibility in trail stewardship has led them to create an opportunity for young folks to participate in making a difference.
January has been dubbed “Teens on Trails Month” by the nonprofit, and they’re planning a month-long series of events to teach students about trail stewardship in local parks, according to Katy Poniatowski, marketing and communications manager for SCMTS.
During these events, “Students will connect with their peers, learn about natural ecosystems, and earn community service hours for their time. They’ll also enjoy awesome raffles and a great pizza party at the end of the month,” Poniatowski said.
Each of the five events will teach middle and high school students about native species and ecological functions, get them involved in trail maintenance activities, and give them the opportunity to connect with SCMTS’ professional team to learn about career opportunities in the outdoors.
Emma Ussat, trails program manager for SCMTS, is pumped up about local youth getting this opportunity, which focuses on building a more diverse and engaged generation of young adventurers.
“Teens don’t need much to participate. They should arrive wearing long sleeves, long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes. SCMTS will provide all the tools, safety gear and instructions,” Ussat said.
She also points out that the group offers accommodations for differently-abled individuals.
“We offer a variety of activities at each event that cater to a range of skill levels and abilities. Our staff are patient and kind and do their best to meet everyone’s needs,” Ussat said. “If parents have questions or concerns about our events, we hope they reach out to [email protected] for more info.”
The January event calendar for the Teens on Trails program runs from 9am – 1pm on the following dates:
• Saturday, Jan. 7, at Wilder Ranch State Park
• Saturday, Jan. 14, at University Connector Trail
• Monday, Jan. 16, MLK Day of Service Dig Day at DeLaveaga Park
• Saturday, Jan. 21, at West Glenwood Preserve
• Saturday, Jan. 28, at Henry Cowell State Park
Heavy rain will cancel any of the events, but a light drizzle won’t be enough to dissuade the SCMTS crew from teaming up with teens to improve local trail systems. If you’re interested in getting your teen away from the screen, sign them up for one of the workdays by visiting https://act.santacruztrails.org/teens-on-trails.