Jordan Williams joined the Continental Divide Trail Coalition as a GOCO fellow in July 2022. GOCO Fellows gain experience in the fields of conservation, outdoor recreation, and stewardship while growing a professional skill set to apply to future endeavors. Jordan’s fellowship will come to a close this year and he transitioned into a full-time role at the organization. 

What did you learn during your time as a fellow? 

Jordan with group on National Public Lands Day hike at Camp-Hale Continental Divide National Monument
National Public Lands Day Hike at Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument. Photo by Jon Resnik. 

At CDTC I have the pleasure and challenge of working across all our programs and initiatives including community engagement, field operations, trail policy, cooperative stewardship, and even some fundraising and grant writing. The partners and local communities we work with--from the small town of Lake City to the hustle and bustle of Steamboat Springs--are diverse in their make-up and have unique challenges. The Continental Divide is truly a connector of landscapes and cultures and an amazing recreational opportunity. This allows for big-picture thinking as an organization but it also means a lot of logistics on the ground. I enjoy both and I am continually learning and being challenged, which makes for a fulfilling workplace.

Was there a project or challenge that was most impactful? How did you tackle it?

When I started my fellowship two years ago, the structure of our field programs and trail maintenance operations was a lot different. As it changed, I became more involved in planning our trail projects and engaging with our volunteers in the field. These new program responsibilities meant that I had to adapt my work plan priorities, which ultimately made me more well-rounded and integrated with our Colorado partner organizations, volunteers, and CDTC’s operations. 

Jordan and friends selfie close up with snowy mountain backdrop.
Jordan and Friends at the Partners in the Outdoors Conference. Photo by Krista Frank.

What surprised you most as a fellow?

The way CDTC provided me with autonomy in my job responsibilities and program outcomes surprised me right from the start. They never made me feel like “just a fellow or an intern.” I feel like I made a real impact right from the beginning, as exemplified by our work on the designation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, which culminated in President Biden visiting the CDT in October 2022. That doesn’t happen every year!

What does your future dream job look like? 

Jordan posing for a photo wile snowshoe hiking.
Jordan snowshoe hiking on Monarch Crest. Photo by Justice Wise.

I’m lucky to be able to stay on with CDTC and continue my “dream job” as their Colorado Regional Representative. I feel like CDTC is perfectly positioned to contribute in a meaningful way by helping balance conservation and recreation. By definition, National Scenic Trails advocate for expanding recreational opportunities through trail-based outdoor experiences. At the same time, those experiences wouldn’t be possible without conserving the surrounding landscapes, which in turn benefit the natural environment, local communities, and future generations.

Anything else you’d like to reflect on?

I appreciate GOCO and CDTC for taking a chance on me–someone with an unconventional background as it relates to natural resources management. I feel like my degrees in sport management and my varied experience in college athletics, hospitality industries, and volunteer programs led me to this point in my career. I love my job and the people (and partners) I get to work with on a daily basis. I’m glad there are pathways programs like this one that help support capacity building for organizations while creating opportunities for people who are not represented in their industries or often get overlooked. Keep up the good work!