Kristin Murphy hails from the suburbs of Chicago where hiking and camping were not a regular part of her life. It wasn’t until she had interned at Canyonlands National Park in Utah, after receiving her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, that she truly understood and appreciated the conservation of our public lands. Murphy explains, “After that, I was truly hooked on public lands advocacy.”
The following year, while pursuing her Masters of Environmental Management at Duke University, with a focus on public land policy, Murphy was interning at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) conducting research on tactics that would better help NPCA engage millennials in becoming national park advocates. Murphy has since graduated and is now working with partners who are advocating for Congress to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides funding for land acquisition projects including many projects along and near the A.T.
Murphy became a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Next Generation Council (Next Gen) during its inaugural year, three years ago, and is now in a leadership role as the Council’s Liaison. In this role, Murphy represents Next Gen in the Youth and Diversity Committee of the ATC Stewardship Council. She also serves as the conduit between Next Gen and the overarching ATC network, serving as the point of contact for any person or organization who wishes to reach Next Gen as a whole. Murphy also works to keep Next Gen a cohesive functioning group by working with the Next Gen Administrator and Coordinator in planning and scheduling Next Gen’s quarterly phone calls. While Murphy’s career is centered around public land advocacy she is excited to blend her professional life with her personal life by working with the ATC as a part of her job and as a volunteer on Next Gen.
Marcela Maldonado, who works with Murphy and serves as the Next Gen Coordinator states “[Kristin is] a great leader whose character and enthusiasm are contagious. She gets things done!”
Murphy explains her motivations to help the Appalachian Trail, “I am so grateful that ATC gives a seat at the table to young and diverse individuals, like myself and my peers, to speak our minds, have open and honest dialogue about diversity, equity and inclusion, and they truly listen to us and value our feedback. I feel incredibly supported by ATC and appreciate that they take us seriously, respect our advice”
Murphy believes that the passion and dedication of doers, hikers and dreamers of the Appalachian Trail are all part of keeping the Trail relevant, maintained and supported. She reflects on the history of the Trail, “the fact that we have a continuous path of wild lands that stretches north to south across the US and the fact that a single person convinced other people of how important it was for this to exist. People actually followed through to ensure that the Trail was protected and continues to be protected to this day. It lends proof to the legacies that we are all capable of leaving.”