How to Lead a Stewardship Activity

Learn how to lead a stewardship activity with The Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
March 26, 2024
How to Lead a Stewardship Activity
Olympia Mountaineers clearing the Church Creek Trail. Photo by Jim French.

Caring for our public lands, waterways, and outdoor spaces through stewardship is a central component of The Mountaineers ethic. Many Mountaineers courses require completion of the Stewardship Credit badge to graduate, and our membership gives thousands of volunteer hours toward stewardship each year. 

According to The Mountaineers Clubwide Stewardship Standards, the primary purpose of a stewardship activity is to care for our public lands, waters, and other outdoor spaces. This could include, but is not limited to: trail work, habitat restoration activities, trash removal, historic lookout maintenance, and care of Mountaineers facilities.

Branch-led stewardship committees connect Mountaineers to opportunities to give back to the lands they love in all seasons. Whether it’s clearing fallen debris from a trail at Tolmie State Park with our Olympia Branch or removing invasive plants at Shadow Lake Preserve through our Foothills Branch, there’s a stewardship opportunity for everyone.

Our members frequently express interest in leading stewardship activities for The Mountaineers as a way to give back to public lands and to help students meet course graduation requirements. Like all of our activities, there are several important steps all leaders must follow to ensure our stewardship activities meet our organization standards. Please review the Clubwide Stewardship Standards for full details and ensure your activity complies with all Mountaineers policies.

Before you lead a stewardship activity...

There are several important factors to consider when organizing a Mountaineers stewardship activity:

Will your activity be sponsored by a Mountaineers committee that includes stewardship in the scope of their charter?

Activity committees are authorized by branches to run their activities. It is up to each branch to determine what types of activities each committee may offer. This should be outlined in the committee charter. While it may sound procedural, scoping stewardship into your committee’s charter is an important risk management step. It ensures that all of our activities have a clear and intentional design and support system, and that they have been vetted to be consistent within our organization. It is generally understood that a branch’s stewardship committee is authorized to run stewardship activities. A branch’s hiking committee could also be authorized to run stewardship activities, but that is determined by the branch and must be reflected in the committee’s charter.

Will your activity be run in conjunction with another stewardship organization?

For the majority of Mountaineers activities, the Mountaineers leader on-site provides all risk management, including participant briefing, technical oversight, and planning and communications  for the activity. For many stewardship activities, however, the Mountaineers leader on site shares risk management responsibilities for the activity with a leader from another organization (ex: Mountains to Sound Greenway). These are called co-sponsored activities. For all co-sponsored activities, The Mountaineers must have a written agreement outlining each party’s roles/responsibilities, as well as a current certificate of insurance from the other organization. You can find a Template Agreement for Co-Sponsored Stewardship Activities linked on the last page of the Clubwide Stewardship Standards.

Do you have approval from the relevant land or waterway manager to lead this activity?

All stewardship activities must be approved by the relevant land or waterway manager. Depending on the activity, either The Mountaineers and/or the co-sponsoring organization should have written approval for the work included in the activity. Most stewardship activities take place on public lands managed by a government agency or land managed for public access by a private or nonprofit organization like a land trust.


I want to help advertise a stewardship activity happening with another organization. Can I post a stewardship activity to The Mountaineers website to Generate interest and help students get their Stewardship Credit badge?

If The Mountaineers does not have a leader on-site for the activity, and/or does not have a written agreement with (and certificate of insurance from) the external entity running the stewardship activity, this is not a Mountaineers activity and cannot be posted on The Mountaineers website. 

We do encourage members to participate in stewardship activities with external entities. These opportunities, with a direct link to register with the sponsoring organization, can be shared via a blog or other Mountaineers communication channels.

How do I or my students get their Stewardship Credit badge if they participate in an external stewardship activity?

If you attend a work party with another organization, please forward your confirmation email from that organization to after completing your stewardship hours  to receive this badge. A list of outside organizations that frequently offer stewardship activities can be found on our Stewardship Opportunities page.

Do I need to have a Stewardship Leader badge to lead a Mountaineers stewardship activity?

It depends, but at minimum, The Mountaineers should always have a leader on-site who has been approved to lead activities in the planned terrain.

For stewardship activities, Mountaineers leaders are also responsible for ensuring that someone on-site is approved to lead stewardship work planned for that activity. Depending on the activity, this could be a Mountaineers Stewardship Leader or Trail Crew Leader, or that component of the activity could be “outsourced” to a co-sponsoring organization.

Stewardship activities take place on a variety of terrain. Stewardship activities typically take place on non-technical terrain (ex: restoration work on trail). Any Mountaineers stewardship activity taking place on technical terrain with a participant skill prerequisite (ex: cleaning a rock climbing route, shoreline trash removal by kayak) should be led by a leader also approved to lead activities on that terrain. 

I want to lead [insert any type of activity]. Can that qualify for Stewardship Credit?

According to The Mountaineers Clubwide Stewardship Standards, the primary purpose of a stewardship activity is to care for our public lands, waters, and other outdoor spaces. This could include, but is not limited to: trail work, habitat restoration activities, trash removal, historic lookout maintenance, and care of Mountaineers facilities.

I’ve made sure to follow all of the processes above, am approved by my committee, and am interested in leading a blended stewardship activity (Ex: A Sea Kayak stewardship Activity). How do I do that?

The Mountaineers website does not easily allow for “blended” activities. In this case, the leader can choose one of two options:

Option 1: Post a “stewardship” activity, including a note in the activity summary/description that this activity will be done on water in sea kayaks.

  • Pros: This allows leaders to assign the Stewardship Credit badge after activity completion. 
  • Cons: Because sea kayaking activities require a course prerequisite to participate, the leader will need to individually vet each attendee for their sea kayaking skills.

Option 2: Post a “sea kayak” activity, including a note in the activity summary/description that this is also a stewardship activity.

  • Pros: The “sea kayak” trip template includes the relevant sea kayak course prerequisites, so leaders do not need to vet participant skills as carefully.
  • Cons: Students will need to contact Member Services following the activity to receive their Stewardship Credit badge.

The Mountaineers STRONGLY recommends leaders choose Option 2 for any activity with a participant course or skill prerequisite.

What’s the difference between the “Stewardship” and “Stewardship Half Day” trip templates?

The Stewardship Credit badge represents the successful completion of one full day (6 hours) of stewardship. The “Stewardship” trip template is designed for activities that meet or exceed this 6 hour requirement, and is set-up to award the Stewardship Credit badge upon completion of the activity. If your activity will be fewer than 6 hours of work, please select the “Stewardship Half Day” template.

Members who have attended multiple half-day stewardship activities in the past year can email Member Services with the dates of their participation to receive the Stewardship Credit badge.

Questions? Trip leadership at The Mountaineers can be complex. If you have any questions about how to lead an activity, please talk to your committee or contact Member Services for support.