Meet the Anza Trail Foundation
by Richard Rojas, Chair, Anza Trail Foundation
It was a sunny fall afternoon when I found myself hiking along the Ellwood Mesa Open Space looking for Monarch butterflies. The Anza Expedition had passed near this eucalyptus grove in February, 1776, probably in the fog.
A mystery of nature, the Monarch begins its life as an egg. It becomes a caterpillar, not the most beautiful of creatures, then magically transforms into a cocoon, before becoming a beautiful bright orange and black butterfly! These tiny creatures take generations to migrate to Canada and then back home to the forests of Central Mexico: they boggle the mind.
The Anza Trail Foundation (ATF) has more in common with the Monarchs than we might think. In 1999, following a request by Congress, the governors of Arizona and California nominated several of our group’s original members to assist the National Park Service in rolling out the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Management and Use Plan.
Our collective experience as trail enthusiasts, equestrians, historians, professors, park professionals, and educators was rich in diversity. We spent three years visiting Anza Trail sites, setting project priorities, and assisting the NPS in finalizing its plan. By 2004, our official appointment had ended, but we knew more work was needed to fund trail development, signage, education and interpretive programs, maps and guides.
Much like our friend the Monarch, our advisory council morphed in 2009 to form the Anza Trail Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to increasing knowledge about the epic Anza expeditions and preserving the Anza Trail through partnerships with organizations and individuals.
The last couple of years have been busy. In 2011, our board realized that in order for us to gain traction as an organization, we needed to focus our energy and grow. That fall, we signed a cooperative agreement with the NPS to work with the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE) at the University of Oregon to develop an update and upgrade plan for the Web de Anza database and website. Earlier this year, we signed an agreement with a consulting group to complete the upgrade plan, which will include recommendations for funding its implementation.
This past October, the board regrouped at the L.A. River Center to formalize our strategic plan. We agreed to concentrate on board and membership development, website and social media communications, public relations and marketing, and developing a model partnership agreement for working with other Anza Trail partners. As the newly appointed chair for the Anza Trail Foundation, I am energized by the enthusiasm, excitement and commitment that our board members continue to display as we work together in promoting and sharing our mission and vision.
Like our friend the Monarch butterfly, it is time for the Anza Trail Foundation to reach for new heights and fly high!
ATF Board Members