For Dawn Maher, serving as a Mountain View Trail Ambassador is the “best of every world,” she said.
After learning about the volunteer program five months ago on the Nextdoor website, the Mountain View resident jumped at the opportunity to help others while enjoying the trails in and around Shoreline Park.
Maher, who used the trails recreationally before volunteering, said she loves to “be a resource to others while out enjoying the trail.”
Kristina Perino, the city’s senior recreation coordinator, said the job of Trail Ambassador includes building “goodwill among users, pointing people in the right direction and serving as a resource for those people who may wish to know more.” After the required orientation and fingerprinting, volunteers patrol the trails, promote proper trail etiquette and advise and/or educate visitors.
The program launched in October 2015 and has since expanded to 20 volunteers involved “at varying levels of orientation and/or engagement in the program” Perino said.
Karan Gathani began volunteering as a Trail Ambassador last August. The Sunnyvale resident said it’s a great opportunity for him to give back to the community while biking to and from his job at a startup in Palo Alto.
Gathani noted that before the orientation, he felt like a racehorse wearing blinders, unaware of the wildlife around him. Now, after the orientation, he notices more of the animals he sees on his daily bike rides.
When on the trails, Gathani and Maher said they occasionally have to remind people of trail rules. Gathani noted that he rarely has problems with this part of the job, but he struggles to remind bikers of the rules because they are gone before he has a chance to speak with them.
Volunteers have a flexible schedule and can select hours that correspond with their existing trail use, which Maher said “makes great sense.” Typically, Trail Ambassadors volunteer no more than 10 hours per month, according to a city report from last fall.
“For a small investment of my time, I am now informed about the rules of the trail, the best way to contact authorities if someone requires assistance and the best information outlets for those who would like to know more,” Maher said.
To volunteer for the Trail Ambassador program, visit mountainview.gov/shorelinevolunteers.