Travis Cooper named new executive director of Island Trails Network

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Kodiak’s Island Trails Network manages several trail systems and organizes marine debris cleanup around the archipelago. The organization recently named a new executive director for the first time since the nonprofit’s inception. 

Travis Cooper (right) and his daughter (left) on March 2, 2023. Brian Venua/KMXT

Travis Cooper previously served as the non-profit’s trails program coordinator. His former position was more seasonal, but now as executive director, he’ll be working part-time year-round. 

Cooper says he doesn’t have any new major projects coming up, but is open to proposals to the nonprofit. 

“At the moment, no big aspirations or plans – a little bit of it is ITN has its own reputation for itself and we have an open door to projects that can come to us,” he said. 

The network primarily focuses on general maintenance of trails such as adding boardwalks to muddy sections or organizing trash pick-up events. 

Occasionally the network takes on larger projects. The organization has helped develop a trail system that wraps around Near Island, which is owned by the city. And recently, ITN received a million-dollar federal grant to help with marine debris clean-up.

Island Trails Network was founded in 2006, with Andy Schroeder at the helm. 

Cooper says Schroeder will continue to work with ITN, just in a different capacity. 

“He’s not leaving the town or the community at all so Andy’ll still be involved with helping more or less find the funding for a lot of those programs and to keep those community events going and also just keeping the spirit of trails going,” he said.

Cooper also works at Kodiak High School as a special education teacher, but is currently on family leave to help care for his newborn daughter. He said it was a perfect time to make the transition. 

“I knew I was going to be taking some parental leave, so I get to spend a lot more time hanging out with my daughter and she gets to come to the office with me,” he said.

Cooper even brought his daughter (pictured) to the interview.

Some of his new responsibilities include reviewing insurance policies, memberships, and planning larger events. 

“It’s a little eye-opening how fast the time goes and how much time is required for some of the admin part of running a small nonprofit,” he said. “I think I have more respect for small nonprofits and how they’re able to manage and pull things off the way they do with a small budget.”  

This summer, Cooper says the organization hopes to continue work on Near Island, as well as begin a new project on the Saltery Cove Trail along with their regular activities such as beach clean ups.

Their next major event is the Kodiak Outdoor Film Festival, one of the network’s main fundraisers and membership drives. In previous years ITN held the festival outdoors, but this year it will be held in the school auditorium in case of inclement weather. Submissions are due at the end of the month. 

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