REI awarded the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) a $20,000 grant, which will go towards recruiting and training Appalachian Trail Community Ambassadors, in support of the Appalachian Trail Community program.

The Appalachian Trail Community program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the A.T. Towns, counties, and communities along the A.T.s corridor are considered assets by A.T. hikers and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. The program serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T. To date the ATC has approved 11 communities for designation and plans to designate another three in the upcoming year.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited to have the opportunity to expand and support our Appalachian Trail Community program, stated Julie Judkins, Community Program Manager of the ATC. Thanks to organizations like REI, we are able to increase capacity and resources to our trailside communities.

The Appalachian Trail Community Ambassadors initiative was announced at the ATCs 2011 Biennial Conference on July 1-8, 2011. Ambassadors will coordinate a series of Trail-related volunteer stewardship events over the course of one year. Ambassadors will connect community citizens and potential new volunteers with ongoing and new ATC and affiliated Trail-Club events, functions, and volunteer opportunities such as invasive-exotic plant monitoring and control, or trail crews. They will act on behalf of the A.T. at community meetings, events, and assist in support of ATC initiatives.

REI has provided support to the ATC for nearly a decade. Annually, REI dedicates a portion of its operating profits to help protect and restore the environment, increase access to outdoor activities, and encourage involvement in responsible outdoor recreation. For more information about REI, visit

REI applauds the Appalachian Trail Conservancys commitment to preserving one of the nations most treasured trails, said Angie Perez, REIs Northeast District Outreach and Events Administrator. This program complements our vision of connecting individuals, families and entire communities to nature through volunteerism and outdoor stewardship.