Our Commitment to All Hikers
At American Hiking Society (AHS), we envision a world where everyone feels a sense of belonging in the hiking community and has lasting access to meaningful hiking experiences, be that in urban, frontcountry, or backcountry settings. At our core, we are a community of hikers, or more simply, a community of people who more broadly share a love of foot (or assisted) travel outside along paths, trails, sidewalks, and more.
However, we know that being able to move freely outside is not an opportunity available to all communities. Issues of systemic oppression, including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, colonialism, ableism, ageism, bigotry against LGBTQIA-2, and more, have prevented individuals and communities from readily having financial and proximity access to hiking and trails, feeling safe and welcome while hiking, and seeing their identities and values reflected in the hiking community and outdoor industry. To ensure we are truly moving toward our vision where everyone feels a sense of belonging in the hiking community, it is our responsibility to understand and address historic and current barriers, disadvantages, and mistreatment experienced by people as they hike or consider hiking. It is our responsibility to serve as a catalyst for positive change in service of a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive (JEDI) hiking community.
We are committed to this work because it’s simply the right thing to do. First and foremost, embracing JEDI will help us innovate, be resilient, and do our best work, with a thriving workforce and thriving constituencies. Further, doing our best work also means that we are reaching, listening to, and representing the entire hiking community, especially those who have previously not felt welcome or heard in the hiking world. We believe the strength of the hiking community is dependent upon every hiker being seen, heard, and valued. Finally, we simply believe that everyone—and not just the privileged few—should be able to access the benefits of hiking, including health and healing, fostering connections with nature, and building community.
While AHS historically has not prioritized JEDI, when leadership changed in mid-2017, AHS Board and Staff took it as an opportunity to recognize this failure and correct it. We began two years of work on a 2020-2024 Strategic Plan that looked at who we were and how we wanted to be moving forward as an organization. JEDI was unequivocally made a priority, starting with acknowledging our prior Mission was inadequate and redefining our Mission to: Empowering all to enjoy, share, and preserve the hiking experience.
As part of this work, we are revising our previous diversity statement and laying out this new commitment to more clearly guide us toward our Mission and Vision. We will:
- Cultivate a sense of belonging at AHS and within the hiking community for all Staff, Board, NextGen Trail Leaders, members, volunteers, program participants, supporters, and community members.
- Continue to learn about and advocate for both access and relevant experiences for everyone in the hiking community, particularly those from marginalized communities, through policy initiatives and advocacy, stewardship, technical assistance, and our role as a convener and collaborator.
- Engage in mutualistic relationships and active collaboration with community partners working to improve the lives of those within the hiking community who experience systemic oppression and those who have not yet joined our community because of oppression.
Our Core Values
1. We Are Hikers
We share our love of hiking. We achieve our mission through uniting the diverse hiking community.
2. Hiking Matters
We believe in hiking’s transformative power: It boosts mental and physical health, engenders respect for ourselves and our surroundings, and creates and strengthens a sense of community.
3. Trails Are for Everyone
We believe that everyone should feel welcome as a hiker on all trails. Hiking offers low-threshold access to a positive outdoor social activity available to all.
4. We Share the Trail
We collaborate with partners that complement our strengths and weaknesses, rather than competing. We convene, amplify, and lead, rather than direct.
5. Hiking Inspires Sustainability
We protect the places we love. Because hiking directly engages hikers with their surroundings, it invites deeper personal connections with that land, leading to a commitment to care and advocate for its health and preservation.
WE DEFINE JUSTICE as dismantling barriers to resources and opportunities in society so that all individuals and communities can live a full and dignified life. These barriers are essentially the “isms” in society: racism, classism, sexism, ageism, and more.
WE DEFINE EQUITY as redistributing resources to ensure everyone has equal access to the same opportunities; it recognizes that advantages and barriers exist. Equity is not the same thing as equality.
WE DEFINE DIVERSITY as the differences between us based on which we experience systemic advantages or encounter systemic barriers to opportunities. So, diversity isn’t all differences, but differences along identities such as race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, class, education, religious affiliation, and immigration status.
WE DEFINE INCLUSION as celebrating, valuing, centering, and amplifying perspectives, voices, styles, and identities of individuals who experience more systemic barriers, mistreatment, or disadvantages based on their identities (inclusion is not merely tolerating, accommodating, surmounting, overcoming, or transcending differences).