Not all states have a statewide trail advocacy organization. West Virginia was among those without a statewide body until 2020, when a working group of trail leaders gathered to discuss common challenges. Their intent was (and remains) “to build a West Virginia trails movement.” Within a two year period, they achieved nonprofit status and raised the funds to create an organizational plan. Cycle Forward worked with them on the plan.
Dates: October 2022 – February 2023
Client: WV TRAIL
Location: West Virginia
Outdoor Assets: Non-motorized trails throughout the state
Project Type: Plan development
Collaborators: Members of WV TRAIL’s Working Group
WV TRAIL aims to increase the awareness of and appreciation for non-motorized trails in West Virginia. As a burgeoning, all-volunteer organization (with support from National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy), the board of WV TRAIL recognized its need for an organizational plan. They engaged Cycle Forward to develop a plan that supports and elevates the great work already being done by the statewide group.
The strategic planning process coincided with a statewide trails conference – the first in many years – in October 2022. Cycle Forward worked closely with a board working group to plan for both the strategic process and the conference. The first in person sessions took place on the grounds of the conference center. First, the board met for a strategy session. Critical to the session was making the time for this young board to get to know each other on a personal level as well as to consider the functions of an organizational plan. The group also crafted an elevator pitch for a statewide trails plan (which was last updated about 20 years ago). The next day, Cycle Forward co-facilitated a plenary session aimed at gathering conference attendees’ input. The feedback generated during those sessions guided the rest of the planning process. By February 2023, the 2023-25 Organizational Plan was complete, along with a two-page summary that would help to gain the support of others.
Deliverables included a 12-page, 3-year organizational plan and a summary document.
The planning process empowered the board to formalize and commit to some of the good work they were already doing and planning on. The plan defines three strategic initiatives:
- Convening a community of trail leaders
- Building momentum for an updated statewide trails strategy
- Engaging the legislature
A notable success for WV TRAIL in the time since the plan was approved was securing funds to hire the organization’s first Executive Director! This was one of the hoped-for outcomes of having a plan in place. (The need for a paid staff was outlined in the plan.) In just over six months’ time, the board of WV TRAIL took an important step in building a West Virginia trails movement!
Featured image and center image courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Renee Rosensteel