2020 Recap: A Year in Review

Happy New Year! As we move forward into 2021, we take a moment to reflect on both the challenges and successes of a year like no other.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
January 07, 2021
2020 Recap: A Year in Review

The Mountaineers is an incredible community of adventurers, students, instructors, advocates, and leaders. As we close the door on 2020 and look ahead to 2021, we reflect on our core values and how they’ve guided us through the past nine months of this pandemic. 


Many of us feel that 2020 was its own unwelcome adventure, but we’re proud of our community for facing it head on, putting safety first, and doing everything possible to help people stay connected to both the outdoors and each other. 

This year, we offered adventure in many ways, from guidebooks to backyard birding to small group trips. In addition, we released more than 30 new book titles to help people learn new skills, find places to visit, and experience adventures through the pages. We were proud to receive book awards for thirteen of our titles this year, including several Braided River books designed to connect readers with the threats to some of our most beautiful landscapes and critical species.

Our community has been a model for responsible recreation, working in partnership with other local organizations and the Governor’s office to establish clear and consistent operating guidance during the pandemic. This allowed us to get outside in small groups and to stay connected as a community. Together, we traveled 77,040 miles and climbed 19,206,276 feet.


Our creativity with virtual and hybrid programs provides an exciting opportunity to reimagine the future of our courses. In the 2020 calendar year we offered 92 virtual seminars and clinics, an exciting debut for a brand-new format.

We're also particularly excited to increase our ongoing leadership development opportunities for Mountaineers volunteers through our new Leadership Development Series. This fiscal year to date, we’ve offered 16 seminars (versus 12 last year in the same time frame) with a total of 384 registrations (versus 267 last year in the same time frame).


Volunteerism remains at the core of our mission, our “secret sauce” for providing high-quality, community-focused outdoor programming. Thank you to the 2,784 members who volunteered their time this year, and to the many others who supported from afar. The Mountaineers is only able to weather this storm because of your leadership.

During this difficult year volunteers stepped up to rebalance budgets, supported one another to recreate responsibly, and learned new tools to connect with their communities. With new safety precautions in place, 427 volunteer trip leaders led 2,126 participants on 1,495 trips. 

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year our community reported 54,000 volunteer hours. And while that number is impressive, we estimate that it is likely less than a third of the total time our volunteers contributed to our mission and programs. Reporting volunteer hours is critical for our club’s internal tracking, as well as our external grant applications and other fundraising efforts. For a reminder of the best practices for tracking your volunteer time, check out our How To: Tracking Volunteer Hours blog.


In the face of enormous challenges, our community had a landmark year in protecting our wild places. We welcomed Betsy Robblee to our staff team as our new Conservation & Advocacy Director. We also celebrated the passing of  the Great American Outdoors Act - perhaps the win of the century for our outdoor places. Among many things, this legislation will permanently and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide billions of dollars to restore and maintain parks and public lands. Additionally, the Wild Olympics and SOAR Acts have advanced in congress despite the odds. Our members played a key part in these successes by contributing 4,666 letters and signatures to our legislators.

Our members and volunteers participate with boots on the ground as well. In 2020, we offered 133 stewardship activities and awarded 349 Low Impact Recreation badges. Our members play a critical role in protecting our wild places, in words and in actions. Read the perspective of Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance, on the importance of The Mountaineers voice.


In a year where outdoor recreation was one of the only group activities available, The Mountaineers has provided countless opportunities to create connection between people and place.

We offered dozens of community events to share stories of adventure, from Beta & Brews for our climbers, to our Backpacker Pajama Parties, Scramble Rambles, and Armchair Global Adventures. Thousands of participants attended our varied virtual programming. Even our youth programs got involved, offering hybrid summer camps and virtual clubs programming. Thanks to the creativity of our dedicated community of volunteers we more than quadrupled the impact of our hybrid and virtual programming, keeping our community together through tough times.

Our outdoor community not only gives back as volunteers, they elevate our programs through a strong culture of philanthropy. In fiscal year 2020, our community understood that people need the outdoors now more than ever before, and 3,226 donors stepped up to keep our mission alive during these unprecedented times by raising over $1.6 M in contributions. $223,394 of that came from 1,958 new donors. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, philanthropic revenue enhances our ability to deliver on our mission in ways we cannot do with earned revenue alone, and we rely on these donations to support our conservation efforts, youth outreach and access programs, publishing division, volunteer leadership development, scholarships, and more. 

As we kick of our new fiscal year, we are overwhelmed with gratitude to see over $100K  received during our year-end appeal, a testament to the commitment of The Mountaineers community. This will help ensure that our donor-funded programs will have the resources needed to get more people outside and provide stewardship for our wild places.

Thank You

This past year was full of challenges, but we end the year on a high note, full of hope for the many opportunities ahead. Thank you to each and every member for your ongoing commitment to our mission. We look forward to seeing you out on the trail in 2021! 

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