Emerging Leaders Program – Cohort Member

Washington Trails Association

Tacoma, Washington

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details $20.00 per hour
Deadline Nov 01, 2022
Required Experience 0 – 1 years

Inspiring Hikers to Create Trails for Everyone, Forever

Washington is home to extraordinary hiking destinations, including desert dunes, wild beaches, tranquil mountain tops and raging rivers. Washington is also home to a community of people who are passionate about exploring and protecting these places. This constituency—our members and supporters—is key to the future of trails in Washington.

Washington Trails Association (WTA) is the nation’s largest hiking and trail maintenance nonprofit. We have a 50-year legacy of engaging the hiking community to ensure Washington’s trails stand the test of time.  With more than 27,000 members and an online community of over 300,000 and growing, we are connecting people to the outdoors — from everyday adventures to backcountry explorations. Each year 4,500 WTA volunteers perform over 160,000 hours of trail maintenance across the state. We mobilize hikers as public lands advocates, trail stewards, and on-the-ground experts sharing knowledge with fellow hikers. WTA’s strength is our community and our vision depends on fostering an inclusive organization where everyone feels welcome and represented. Together we can ensure there are trails for everyone, forever.

Emerging Leaders Program Overview

WTA is committed to creating systemic change by providing an entry point for early professional Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) individuals to gain hands-on trail maintenance experience and build leadership skills to support future career interests in natural resource stewardship, outdoor recreation and environmental nonprofit work. This year, WTA also has the opportunity to collaborate with Washington State Parks to provide an array of job shadow opportunities and professional development projects with the agency to engage with and learn from professionals in fields such as stewardship management, park planning and operations. The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) continues to recruit BIPOC individuals who want to be part of forming an inclusive and supportive community. WTA hopes that by investing in paid development opportunities for BIPOC communities, these future leaders will assume leadership roles and build upon professional and personal aspirations within the monochromic outdoor industry. Cohort members who successfully complete the program will be given advanced consideration for open seasonal and permanent positions at WTA that align with their skills and interests for up to 2 years.

Position Summary

WTA is seeking candidates who want to gain hands-on experience, build upon their leadership skills and grow a career in the outdoor industry. The ideal candidate will:  

  • Have a shared belief that everyone of all identities should feel safe and included in the outdoor community and have the ability to foster discussions and conversations around representation in the outdoors
  • Express interest in working in outdoor field-based work and remote/online project-based work
  • Be enthusiastic to invest time in developing individual and team leadership and professional skills
  • Ensure that the cohort’s community, worksites, and spaces are an affirming and supportive environment where all 6 cohort members have their identities, ideals and values recognized and celebrated
  • Provide, accept and integrate feedback graciously throughout the program with peers, program leaders and other WTA members
  • Set and achieve personal and professional goals throughout the 14-week program with support of members, program leaders and other WTA staff mentorship

The 2023 Emerging Leaders Program is 14-weeks and members report to the Emerging Leadership Program – Project Coordinator.

Position Responsibilities

Trail Maintenance Technical Skills (60%)

  • Complete trail work projects while practicing inclusive team leadership skills at work sites across the Puget Sound region
    • Trail projects may include: annual maintenance, new trail construction, installing drainage structures, and construction of steps, turnpike, puncheon and retaining walls
  • Practice and increase knowledge in importance of safety in trail maintenance events, such as risk management and proper usage of tools and equipment
  • Effectively manage emergency situations following WTA’s emergency response protocols
  • Positively represent WTA mission, programs, and membership in all interactions with volunteers, trail  users, agency partners and others 

Professional Development (40%)

  • Within the program there will be devoted work to professional development and educational opportunities, which may include:
    • Wilderness First Aid and CPR certification
    • Outdoor leadership skills development (snowshoeing and backpacking)
    • Cross collaboration with various WTA departments (advocacy, communications, development and community outreach) 
    • Engagement and introductions to a variety of career paths within the Washington State Parks agency and nonprofit sector
    • Resume development and career exploration within the outdoor industry and nonprofit sector and Washington State Parks agency
    • Participation in peer-to-peer mentorship and skill-sharing with other members

Experience, Skills, Knowledge, and Values

Competitive candidates will highlight the following experience in their application, or express willingness to learn: 

  • A deep understanding of experiences and community issues affecting Black, Indigenous, people of  color (BIPOC) and other affinity spaces
  • Ability to contribute to a community where every member (people of diverse races, ages,  genders, sexual orientations, abilities and economic backgrounds) feels included and valued
  • Demonstrated commitment to WTA’s mission and values on diversity, equity and inclusion 
  • Additional interest in outdoor recreation, environmental stewardship, natural resources, nonprofit or state agency work
  • Ability to work in an outdoor environment in inclement weather; some days may include hiking up to 6 miles on a variety of terrain
  • Ability to work 10-hour days when needed
  • Desired, but not required: Any demonstrated experience building or maintaining hiking trails; or comparable experience with similar construction-based or environmental stewardship tasks
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Available for the entirety of the 14-week program running January 17 – April 21, 2023


The Emerging Leaders Program Cohort Member is a temporary, hybrid position (field-based and remote/online project-based work) based in Pierce County/South Puget Sound region. The expected schedule is 40 hours/week, but may vary depending on the work. The anticipated typical work week will be four days of trail projects and one day of education and professional development. Schedule will include a mix of single-day, frontcountry events (8-10 hour trail work days where the cohort member will return to and sleep at their own home each night), and potential multi-day camping and trail work trips in the Puget Sound region (where the entire cohort will work and camp together for multiple days in frontcountry and backcountry settings). All members of the cohort report to the Emerging Leaders Project Coordinator with added support from additional WTA program staff. 

Vaccination requirements are in place for WTA staff and volunteers.


Compensation is $20.00 per hour. For multi-day, overnight trips this position is paid a flat trip rate, along with a supplementary per diem rate of $50/day.  Position is eligible for paid holidays, sick leave, health stipend and an employer-match retirement plan. WTA provides safety hard hats, work gloves, safety glasses and a $200 gear reimbursement. WTA will loan boots and other camping gear as required for field work, if needed.

Cohort members are responsible for their own transportation to the worksite and thus must have a reliable vehicle or mode of transportation. For cohort members who have a personal vehicle, mileage reimbursement will be provided up to 250 miles per trip. Carpooling options are available and dependent on individuals needs and comfort. If you are needing transportation or have questions or concerns about transportation, WTA can talk about additional options during the interview process. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

WTA is committed to advancing equity and continually working to become a more inclusive organization. We believe WTA, and Washington’s hiking community, is made better by people with varied backgrounds, identities, abilities and lived experience. People of color and others with identities that are underrepresented in the outdoor industry (including but not limited to: gender identity, class, socioeconomic status, conviction history, sexual orientation, age, ability, and background) are strongly encouraged to apply.

WTA does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of age, color, gender identity, marital status, honorably discharged veteran or military status, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or any other status or characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.


To apply: submit your application – a resume and brief cover letter – to seasonaljobs@wta.org with “ELP –  Cohort Member” as the subject line. In your cover letter, specifically describe how you meet this particular job requirement: A deep understanding of experiences and community issues affecting Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC); preferred: deep understanding of experiences of BIPOC folks in outdoor spaces and/or on public lands.

The position is open until filled, with priority given to applications received by November 1, 2022. Finalists will be asked to submit a Washington State background check. We will create opportunities for candidates to discuss any results prior to hiring decisions being made. To learn more about the program visit wta.org/elp.  For any additional questions, please contact MJ Sampang (msampang@wta.org), Community Partnership and Leadership Development Coordinator. View other available jobs at www.wta.org/jobs. 

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.