Introducing the new Trail Fund Trail Builder Certificates

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TF will be introducing three new volunteer trail builder certifications at this year’s conference to be held in Rotorua in mid-September

Established in 2012, Trail Fund NZ’s purpose is to support volunteers involved in building and maintaining trails. Over the past couple of years, Trail Fund has been able to provide financial support to dozens of volunteer-led projects; however, we’ve recently turned our attention to looking at other ways we can support volunteers. As a national body, with an established and growing track record, we believe that one way we can help is to offer educational modules which provide credibility for volunteers, particularly in demonstrating their credentials to land managers and other funders. Our goal is to reduce the administrative and bureaucratic burdens on volunteers, so as to allow them to do the practical work that they want to do.

We have thought very carefully about the course content. The certifications focus on the component tasks, organisation, governance and health and safety considerations for volunteer trail crews. While we do discuss trail standards, these are not prescribed. There is a  separate parallel stream of work that is already in progress to develop single track and mountain bike standards to complement the National Cycleway standard. We believe that the certifications we are developing can be applied to projects working to Cycleway standards, a beginners pumptrack, dirt jump park or DH race line.


Three levels of certification

There are three different levels of certification. To qualify for a certification, you must first complete the preceding level.


Level 1: Trail Crew

The goal of this course is to ensure that trail crew are safe and useful

Trail Crew is targeted two audiences:

  1. Those who are completely new to trail building; and
  2. those who need to induct new trail builders at a work party

We introduce the tools of the trade, how to use them safely and the tasks they are best suited for. With tools in hand, we run through common tasks: clearing the corridor, pruning and removing trees, benching, building berms, armouring, drainage and planting.

Course length is a minimum of 2 hours. It should be conducted on site, though it may run longer as part of a  dig.


Level 2: Trail Leader

The goal of this course is to create effective work party leaders.

Breaking a work party down to the tasks required before, during and after, we focus on how to run fun, safe and effective work parties. This includes strategies and techniques for attracting people to your dig; preparing for variable numbers and skill levels; training people to build what you need whilst giving them freedom to give input and ensuring that you keep them coming back. We also look at some larger and more complex tasks, such as building sweet berms and how to manage this task with a crew of different sizes.

Prerequisites: Trail Crew and a current First Aid Certificate. Your Trail Leader certification will only be current if your First Aid Certificate is current.

Course length will be 2-3 hours. Conducted on site.


Level 3: Trail Boss

The goal of this course is to give a trail leader all the tools and techniques they need  to run a new or existing project.

A Trail Boss is a project leader. They can plan out a new project, work with a land owner/manager to establish a new project and understand what is required to mark out a new trail to an established grade and trail type specification. They will seek funding, work out an overall plan to build a trail, map out work parties and work closely with a land manager. We will look at suitable governance models for trail projects, tips for funding applications and how to engage with other trail builders, riders, walkers and other stakeholders to establish and run a successful project.

Prerequisites: Trail Crew and a current First Aid Certificate. Your Trail Leader certification will only be current if your First Aid Certificate is current.

Course length 3-4 hours. Held off-site/indoors.


How will the training be delivered?

The Trail Crew course is expected to take 2-3 hours to complete, depending on how much trail work is integrated into the session. At the conference, we will be running the sessions end-on-end, covering all 3 levels in one day.

We will look to train up Trail Boss candidates at our conferences and, on-demand as required, to help us deliver the courses throughout the country.

The course materials will be released under a Creative Commons license. This means that they will be free to use. The materials themselves will be living documents and we will be welcoming feedback and suggestions from the community, as well as incorporating advice from DoC, other central government agencies and local councils and territorial authorities.


What is the current status of the certifications?

We have prepared the course outlines for all 3 levels. At the moment, we have the full detail for Trail Crew. This content has been peer-reviewed by a number of volunteer and professional trail builders from up and down the country. We have also incorporated feedback from local councils. A trial run has been completed, with another to be held in Wellington before the conference in Rotorua. We are using the feedback from these sessions to shape the content and format for the other certifications.

Once we have a first cut, our design partners at Cluster Creative will be preparing some collateral, such as hand outs, to be used as part of the training.

At the conference, we will be using the training day to run through all the material and certify those who attend. We will also be requesting feedback on the specific material and the programme as a whole. Assuming that we get the endorsement of the community, we will then plan to roll out this training nationwide over the coming summer.


What will it cost?

We are still working on this and, if we can, want to keep this as low cost as possible. However, it does need to stand on its own two feet and we are not looking to redirect funds from our Grant Rounds at this stage.  We are looking to make some special merchandise available to all those that complete a certification.

We are actively seeking a commercial partner to help us to promote and deliver this programme. Any one interested in partnering with us should contact our Education Coordinator, Russel Garlick