CARES Partners with Ky. Office of Adventure Tourism to Create Trail Town Ambassador Program

The Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship (CARES) at Eastern Kentucky University is partnering with The Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism to launch the Trail Town Ambassador Program.

CARES Regional Outreach Agents Maggie Bill and Michelle Allen are now certified Trail Town Ambassadors after training with the Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism to learn how to present the program to interested communities and help them navigate the certification process.

Trail Towns are located along long distance trails, an extensive trail system, or waterway used for canoeing, kayaking, or similar recreation activity. The Kentucky Trail Town Program works to develop interested communities into gateways to area trails and rivers and helps them establish directional signage for local services and attractions, letting users know what’s available and enhancing the local tourism economy.

Allen and Bill will be able to guide communities through developing their committees, creating a connector trail and completing the required assessments. The agents will work with the Office of Adventure Tourism to help the communities with any other issues they may face during the certification process. They will be available to help communities throughout Kentucky that are just getting started as well as those already in progress.

CARES Director Ian Mooers noted that the partnership is the result of a conversation begun at the SOAR conference in December with Elaine Wilson, executive director of the Office of Adventure Tourism.

“Tourism is a key part of the economy in Eastern Kentucky and across the state,” Mooers said. “The Trail Town Program can help communities focus on their existing assets and build destination attractions. Maggie and Michelle have extensive experience in tourism development, and this unique partnership will enhance our University’s community engagement efforts. We look forward to working with communities to build their local capacity to shape their own future economy.”   

Allen and Bill are already known by many throughout the region from their recent work with TOUR Southern and Eastern Kentucky (TOUR SEKY).

“They have been trained in the Kentucky Trail Town process, and are well-versed in all it entails, having worked with us over two years,” Wilson said. “They have led several trips for our towns to Damascus, Va., Trail Town USA, to meet with their local officials and were able to see and hear firsthand what Damascus and Abingdon (Va.) did to host more than 2000,000 people a year to their towns.

“Now they have a whole university (EKU) at their disposal to assist (and) will be a great asset assisting communities through the many steps and committee work that needs to be done. Their tourism background plus the University resources will help tremendously.”

Allen, who hails from Pulaski County, earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from EKU. Bill, an Eastern Kentucky native now residing in Berea, earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Morehead State University before working in television for WYMT and WKYT.

CARES (regionalstewardship.eku.edu/eku-cares) was established to further develop EKU's relationship with and service to the Appalachian region of Kentucky and the University's 22-county primary service region. 

For more information about the Trail Town Program, contact Elaine Wilson, executive director of Adventure Tourism, 502-564-4270 or elaine.wilson@ky.gov.

Published on March 05, 2014