Vision 2022 Progress Update: A Two Year Look At Our Strategic Plan

Learn about the progress made on our strategic plan, Vision 2022, from Mountaineers Board President Lorna Corrigan.
Lorna Corrigan Lorna Corrigan
President, Mountaineers Board of Directors
December 29, 2019
Vision 2022 Progress Update: A Two Year Look At Our Strategic Plan
Winter snowshoe on Mt. Tenerffe. Photo by Rafael Godoi.

Each year we host a Leadership Conference to support our volunteer leaders. Leadership is as much an art as it is a skill, and the best outdoor leaders are always working to refine their leadership. And The Mountaineers are working to refine our leadership as well. Here's an update on our Vision 2022 strategic plan I shared with the attendees of our conference:

Before I joined The Mountaineers Board of Directors, I was a graduate of the Everett Alpine Scramble Course, and I’m deeply grateful for the mentors who gave me the skills and confidence to get out into the mountains. I applaud all of our volunteers for their commitment to growing as leaders and to providing incredible experiences for our community. 

Your commitment as volunteers and members is bolstered by our Vision 2022 strategic plan. It’s exciting to see the progress we’ve made as a community, guided by a plan developed by our members with three priorities: Lead Innovation in Outdoor Education, Engage future Mountaineers, and Advocate for Wild Places. Read on to see the progress we've made in the last two years toward our goals.

Lead innovation in outdoor education

Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers, as well as support from donors and corporate sponsors, we've been able to up our game in supporting top notch leaders and innovative courses informed by current industry trends.

Last spring, we piloted a Leadership Development Series as an opportunity for continuing leadership education throughout the year, based out of our branches. The series expands the learning opportunities at our the Leadership Conference beyond a single day of the year, and beyond Seattle, so that more of our members can benefit. We are especially proud that our presenters are a mix of Mountaineers volunteers and folks from outside our organization. Last spring, we had 274 participants, and nearly 200 this fall already. We have another seven seminars scheduled between now and February, and we’re looking to schedule a half-dozen more before we wrap the series in March. If there’s a topic you’d like to present, or one you’d really like to see, please get in touch with Sara Ramsay.

Another way we’ve been able to support the development of our leaders is through the Leadership Development Fund. This fund provides scholarship money for our volunteers to take professional courses beyond what The Mountaineers offers. We’ve had folks attend ACA paddling courses, advanced climbing courses with guides, training on specialized trail maintenance tools, the Wilderness Risk Management Conference, and Wilderness First Responder courses. The folks who receive these scholarships have already given a tremendous amount to The Mountaineers, and the investment in their training benefits everyone as it continues to advance our collective skill set.

We’ve also been doing focused work on climbing to address the enormous growth of the sport in the Pacific Northwest. Many volunteers have been involved in our Progressive Climbing Education Committees, our Alpine Ambassadors, or our National Climbing Standards Initiative.

Alpine Ambassadors is an organization-wide program designed specifically to grow our capacity to serve the needs of the community. Our climbing volunteers who are climbing at a high level spend a week with guides learning to push their climbing grades and new coaching techniques. This group of Ambassadors has funding to host trips for our volunteer instructors and leaders so that  they, too, can continue to grow as climbers. The result is more climbing volunteers with more confidence to lead and teach. 

Our PCE committees have been working on challenging problems like making becoming a leader more transparent. Through a year of hard work and collaboration, they have rolled out a new leadership progression that makes becoming a leader more accessible. At the same time, a group of volunteers has been working with volunteers from The Mazamas, Colorado Mountain Club, and the American Alpine Club to develop national climbing leadership standards.

All of these committees and our Alpine Ambassadors has led to a cross-branch camaraderie beyond what we’ve seen in many years, and this camaraderie supports the type of collaborative innovation that will help us get ahead of modern-day challenges. We’ve seen new courses pop up, and old ones revived.  

Finally, we’ve been very excited to see the impact that our eLearning courses have had on our programs. They are all free, and they’re a chance for you to expand your skills at a pace that works for you. We’re especially glad to have courses that provide training for our leaders and committee chairs, which will help set them up for success. 

Engage future Mountaineers

Engaging future Mountaineers is about providing opportunities for the next generation, and it’s also about extending the invitation to a broader demographic of people. We’ve really grown a lot over the past decade, and you all have helped drive that change. Looking around an average night The Mountaineers, our community looks a lot different than we did ten years ago, but we still have work to do.

We’re so excited to see more women in leadership roles, as well as more youth, more people of color, and more LGBTQ folks. Our community is more vibrant, and our ability to achieve our mission of getting people outside and protecting public lands is greater when we have a greater diversity of experiences and perspectives.

Because of our volunteers, we continue to be able to expand our youth programs. We served nearly 3000 individual youth last year in Seattle, Tacoma, Kitsap, Olympia, and Bellingham. About half of these kids come from underrepresented communities.

We have camps in Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Kitsap, at Mt. Rainier, at Baker Lodge, and at Meany Lodge. Across Western Washington we had nearly 20 new youth-serving partner organizations who were able to get their kids outside with the help of Mountaineers volunteers and our new gear library. Thanks to our donors and a lot of corporate partners who donated gear, we have a great gear library complete with layers for all weather, snowshoes, camping gear, and cross country skis available to loan at no charge to groups taking youth outside.

We partner with Washington Trails Association to provide the training the leaders need to take their kids out safely. If you know of a youth-serving agency that could benefit from this, please connect them to us. There’s information near the entrance by the free book table.

Because of our community's engagement in our strategic planning process, we’ve invested in internal equity to be sure everyone feels a place of belonging in The Mountaineers. We’ve launched an Equity & Inclusion Committee comprised of 12 volunteers, and have created an informal Working Group of over 100 volunteers to help advise on and oversee this work.

Cultural change is a long and at-times messy process, and it’s inspiring to see so many volunteers already applying an equitable lens to everything you do. To get involved with these efforts, visit our E&I Committee page to see the latest news or contact Kristina Ciari to sign up for the working group, and of course attend our leadership development series seminars devoted to making the outdoors a place where everyone feels belonging.

Advocate for wild places

The Mountaineers has taken a multifaceted approach to advocating for our wild places. 

For decades, we have mobilized our membership to sign on to important issues that balance conservation and access. In the past several years, we’ve focused our efforts to ensure that we are engaging on the most important issues, lending a strong voice representing 14,000 outdoor enthusiasts to our legislators. Our impact is multiplied by our role in Outdoor Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of human-powered recreation groups. If you are on social media, we encourage you not only to follow The Mountaineers of course, but also Outdoor Alliance

We’re very proud to be leaders among our peers in member engagement on key issues. Last year our community took over 4500 individual actions on key issues like funding the Land & Water Conservation Fund, the Public Lands Package of 2019, WA State Lands funding, the SOAR Act (which reduces unnecessary red tape for responsible recreational access), and funding national parks and public lands. These issues are complex, and we try to present them in plain language to help you understand the impact they have. You submitting comments can make the difference as to whether these issues get support from our legislators. This organization cannot have an impact without its members, so thank you for participating. We hope you’ll continue to do so.

Because public lands are so important to our community, we’ve invested in providing better education for our members. Thanks to a grant from Patagonia, we launched a Public Lands 101 eLearning class, which is designed to demystify the complexities of our public lands agencies, their priorities, and their processes. A baseline understanding of these agencies can help you understand what’s at the heart of each new issue, and can help all of us be better partners with folks managing our public lands. Nearly 300 people have taken this course, and we encourage you to do so as well.  

Another facet of our public lands advocacy is stewardship. We’re excited about the number of new stewardship activities that have launched this past year, including a great partnership that the Foothills branch has with Mountains to Sound Greenway and Washington Trails Association, and the Olympia Branch’s stewardship challenge, now in its 3rd year, where every member is challenged to give one day of stewardship and opportunities listed with over a dozen organizations. 

We’re also thrilled that more and more courses are asking students to take the Low Impact Recreation online video course to receive the Low Impact Recreation Badge in order to graduate. In 2019, we gave this badge to nearly 450 people.

The newest addition to our public lands advocacy work is our Organizational Carbon Footprint Reduction Initiative. We all witness the impacts of climate change when we’re housebound due to smoke when we’d rather be hiking, or as we hike further in to get to the foot of a glacier, watching it recede year after year. Our Carbon Footprint Reduction Committee has begun examining ways we can minimize our organizational impact on the climate. We’ve been making steps all along - with carpooling, and creating urban facilities where we can teach locally before going to the mountains.

Last year, Charlie and Carol Michel challenged us to put solar panels on our program centers by donating 50% of the cost. This Seattle program center is now fully solar powered, and the Tacoma Program center is soon to be. You’ll also notice that we are providing a greater proportion of plant-based food options, and striving to use low-waste catering for many of our catered events.

Vision Forward

I hope that as we walked through each of these priorities, you could see what your role has been, and can continue to be. Often when people think about a “strategic plan”, they think about a document sitting on a shelf created by a Board in a smokey room. But you can see that these priorities are our collective priorities. They were developed by our members, and we can only achieve them as a community. Regardless of which priority speaks to you the most - whether it’s leading innovation in outdoor education, engaging future mountaineers, or advocating for wild places, or all of these - I hope that you're inspired to continue to make a difference in these areas, or to get involved in a new way. 

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Dana Miller
Dana Miller says:
Jan 08, 2020 08:47 AM

I see no mention of "Teaching and Gathering Centers" as was mentioned in previous plans. As an Everett executive branch member, I am deeply disappointed and troubled by the sudden lack of support for the North Sound Program Center! Please let me know if these centers are still in our Vision Plan.