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Interview With a WTA Ambassador

Posted by Nicole Masih-Theberge at Jan 13, 2023 02:31 PM |

We recently sat down to talk with Kathleen Lange, a longtime WTA volunteer ambassador who’s been part of the program since 2018, to chat about why she loves the role and connecting with hikers.

WTA works all across the state. From the coast to the ponderosa forests of Eastern Washington, we're helping hikers get outside. But it's a big state, and our staff can't be everywhere. Thanks to an enthusiastic group of volunteer ambassadors who serve as the face of WTA in their communities, we can reach so many more hikers and potential hikers. We recently sat down to talk with Kathleen Lange, a longtime WTA volunteer ambassador who’s been part of the program since 2018, to chat about why she loves the role and connecting with hikers.

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Kathleen Lange tables at an event in 2022. Photo by Nicole Masih-Theberge.

Why did you choose to become an ambassador originally, and what has kept you coming back?
I was thrilled to take on this role because WTA is an organization that I support and am proud of. It’s really fun, meeting other ambassadors and being able to tell people about WTA. This is probably the most fun volunteer activity you could do. 

What does “outreach” mean to you? 
When I first knew that we were going to do outreach, I didn’t really know what that meant. But we got a lot of training, and it was so interesting to learn the history of WTA and everything WTA is involved in. For me, outreach has meant being at events where I can tell people about WTA and the work that we do. I have found that as an ambassador, even when I’m not at an event, I’m telling people about WTA. 

What is one of your favorite memories or events as a WTA ambassador?
It is really hard for me to pick! One of the first events that stands out to me is the Banff Film Festival, which gave me an appreciation for documentary film-making. I also delivered a presentation about WTA at the Omak Library, and was able to tell them about work going on in the place they live. I also really appreciated attending an employee health fair, particularly because I was able to talk to so many people who didn’t know about WTA and were eager to learn. 

Why is the work of building the WTA community and providing resources important to you?
Doing ambassador activities where we’re more “preaching to the choir” is important because we’re encouraging people to continue their enthusiasm and support. And I also think we need to do more outreach where we’re reaching people who might not already get out on trails. It’s also important to remind people that we have urban trails that are fun, good exercise and can get you into the forest too. The work is also about building community with other organizations and groups that care about our efforts. The more people know and care about our trails and our wild places, the better.

What are you looking forward to in 2023? 
More of what is already happening. I’ve really missed attending events in person since the pandemic. I also look forward to joint events with other like-minded organizations. Washington Trails Day, where we have a chance to table at trailheads and see all the different people who enjoy trails, is also a highlight. 

What resources do you find people ask for most?
Most people know about the Hiking Guide, but a lot of people have questions about it. For example, they wonder why a certain trail isn’t in the Hiking Guide. They may not be aware that sometimes a trail isn’t in the Hiking Guide because it is not an official trail. There is a lot that goes into writing Hiking Guide descriptions and providing accurate information. It’s also good to remind people about the importance of writing trip reports

Where is your favorite place to hike or be outside?
I love to hike around Mount Baker. I appreciate that this is an area where I can find some solitude, and it has spectacular scenery. I’ve also been exploring and enjoying the community trails and forests in North Kitsap County, which includes a whole linked trail system and is accessible year round. 
Participating in outreach and speaking on behalf of WTA is an important role. As Kathleen said, “The more people know and care about our trails and wild places, the better.” You can learn more about spreading the joys of hiking by becoming an ambassador here. Look for WTA at events and in public spaces near you throughout 2023!