Community Connection Through Guided Hikes

June 30, 2023

Are you passionate about outdoor spaces? Do you enjoy sharing stories with others? 

Join the Conservancy as a Volunteer Hike Docent and connect people to the lands and waters of the Inland Northwest! 

Many of you are familiar with Conservancy staff member, Todd Dunfield, who has led guided hikes for the Conservancy for the past 4.5 years on properties we help protect.

“It has been wonderful to be the person who introduced so many members of our community to the soon to be conserved lands or recently conserved lands around Spokane” says Todd. 

In response to organizational growth, Todd now serves as our Public Lands Protection Specialist (Yay Todd!) and is passing the torch down to our more than capable volunteers. In March 2023 the Conservancy launched the Volunteer Hike Docent program as a way to continue leading guided hikes for the community.  

Through the program, each docent leads hikes when and where they want. Our Hike Docents not only become more personally connected to the land but play a critical role in showing our members and those just learning about our mission what our work looks like firsthand.

When you lead a hike such as this, you’re looking forward to sharing the knowledge you have, but you’re also looking forward to hearing what folks on the hike might know. It’s a bit of a collaboration, generally, and everyone comes away a little richer.” – Hike Docent, Bob Ganahl  

Todd surrounded by a group of 4th grade kids at Waikiki Springs
Todd leading a group of 4th grade students at Waikiki Springs

All our Hike Docents bring something different to the table. No two docents have the same knowledge set, background or interests, but they’re all connected by the Conservancy’s mission. This means every hike, even if it’s in the same location, will be different and unique. The docents even have different motivations for joining the program! 

I love taking people on hikes and sharing the outdoors with people and giving them a real sense of place. What makes this place special, unique, what happened here before, what’s happening now…” – Docent, Alana Livingston

I want to help INLC by volunteering my time, as I am recently retired. I also LOVE the outdoors and the environment of the Inland Northwest.” – Docent, Mark Merhab

Having 9 grandchildren, it makes me smile to volunteer and give back through education, respect, preservation and care of our natural spaces for future generations.” – Docent, Patti Ziegler

Hike docent Alana Livingston standing in front of trail head kiosk at Waikiki Springs
Alana leading a hike at Waikiki Springs
Hike docent Patti Ziegler and hike attendees standing on bridge at Liberty Lake
Patti (front) leading a hike at Liberty Lake

The Hike Docent Program is currently managed by the Conservancy’s newest staff member, Gillian Rowe. “My favorite part of running the program is hearing stories from the docents on what connects them to the Inland Northwest” says Gillian, “It fires me up to see the docents so fired up!”

We are looking to add more volunteers to our team of docents!

Reach out to Gillian Rowe via email ( or phone (509-328-2939 ext. 8) to get started!  

For more information on the program visit our website (link opens in new tab). 

Upcoming Hikes led by your Conservancy’s Docents: 

click the links to register for FREE – links open in new tab

July 7th – Slavin Conservation Area Hike with Andi Chatburn

July 27th – Waikiki Springs Hike with Patti Ziegler

July 30th – Palisades Park Hike with Mark Merhab

Program manager Gillian and other hike attendees at Waikiki Springs in winter
Gillian (green coat) and Conservancy supporters at Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve