What Hiker Rally Day Meant to 5 Participants
Every 2 years, WTA’s Hiker Rally Day brings together outdoor enthusiasts from all across Washington to advocate for trails with our state lawmakers. This week, more than 70 people joined us from 40 state legislative districts to speak up for reliable funding for trails and equity in outdoor career. We talked to some participants to hear what the experience meant to them. Here’s what they had to say.
Every 2 years, WTA’s Hiker Rally Day brings together outdoor enthusiasts from all across Washington to advocate for trails with our state lawmakers. This week, more than 70 people joined us from 40 state legislative districts to speak up for reliable funding for trails and equity in outdoor careers. Thank you to everyone who joined us to support trails.
Ninety percent of Washingtonians use trails, and we need our state’s budget to reflect that. People spend time outdoors for many reasons: to relax, enjoy nature, connect with community and enjoy solitude. On Hiker Rally Day, we advocated for reliable maintenance funding for our state lands to ensure everyone in Washington can access those outdoor experiences.
We also asked legislators to invest in equity through WTA’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The ELP recruits a diverse cohort of individuals from communities that have had inequitable access to the outdoors to participate in a paid, 14-week professional development program to build leadership skills and help them toward a career in the outdoor industry. Last year, Washington state’s legislature funded a pilot for the program’s partnership with Washington State Parks. We’ve seen the program’s impact, and that’s why on Hiker Rally Day we asked lawmakers to continue this funding into the future.
“Being in a space where everyone innately understands what it means to be a person of color is rare — especially in an outdoor recreation setting,” said Leina Seeley, ELP alum and WTA staff member. “ELP offers an opportunity for participants to not only gain applicable knowledge and skills for any career, but to also connect with part of their identity in a nourishing environment.”
Talking directly to state lawmakers is an incredibly powerful way to create change. On Hiker Rally Day, the WTA community helped support legislation that would help trails and the people who rely on them. We talked to some participants to hear what the experience meant to them. Here’s what they had to say.
Ginger Sarver, District 22
"I have a friend in a different legislative district who was concerned about meeting with a legislator who is part of a different political party. They were relieved to hear their legislator’s passion for hiking. You can’t judge by political persuasion! It’s a leveling experience for all of us."
Beth Steeves, District 25
"I was really impressed with my first Hiker Rally Day in 2021 and I am equally impressed this time around. I just feel the outdoors has given me so much. I feel like it’s important to give back and this is one way to do it. It can be a very impactful way. Often we find ourselves falling into the pattern of sending checks, and to really talk with someone who has the power to push forward funding — much bigger funding — is important to me. I feel I have a responsibility."
Jennifer Fortin, District 35
"It was a fun experience and I’d absolutely do it again. I was a little hesitant going in, but going over the notes was perfect since I got a little tongue tied. You were all so right: The representatives actually wanted to hear from us!"
Byron Stuck, District 41
"I love how you’ve done this. I appreciate the resources you’ve provided to me, as just a citizen, to allow me to do this."
Joel Grant, District 44
“I started hiking in 2015. But I have a new grandson — he’s 9 months old. I want there to be trails for him.”