Somerset, PA – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today joined state Sen. Kim Ward, Department of Labor & Industry officials and Bureau of State Parks representatives in saluting contributions and successes of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps at Laurel Hill State Park, Somerset.
“Looking back on its second year of operation, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps certainly is emerging as a ‘win-win’ effort for all involved,” Dunn said. “The young men and women who accomplished so much here at Laurel Hill are indicative of corps spirit and commitment seen in state parks and forests across the state. They have helped chip away at a backlog of needed work, while gaining invaluable career direction and exposure to the outdoors.”
Dunn joined other participants at the park event in meeting members of the Greensburg Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps and visiting one of their project sites on the park campgrounds, where they are building shelters.
“Work like this accents an incredible success story that I have been seeing across the state,” Dunn said. “In the summer of 2016 alone, the outdoor corps made possible enhancement and rehabilitation of 33 acres of green space, 7,000 feet of shoreline, 30 miles of nature trails and 86 park and forest structures.
“This program is connecting youth and young adults with job opportunities relating to the outdoors and the environment, and providing training in work skills necessary for future successful employment.”
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is an initiative offered by the Wolf Administration through the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and Labor & Industry that offers work experience, job training, and educational opportunities to young people who complete recreation and conservation projects on Pennsylvania’s public lands. This program is designed to protect and restore public lands while providing young people with the knowledge to be good stewards of the state’s natural resources.
“This new program is a key element of our Youth initiative -- one of six being pursued by DCNR to position the department as a leader in areas that go far beyond the operation and stewardship of our state parks and forests,” said Dunn. “This youth employment and enrichment program is managed by DCNR in cooperation with the Student Conservation Association, with financial and program support provided by DCNR the Department of Labor & Industry.”
Initial roll-out of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps in July 2016 was financed through the Department of Labor & Industry’s Reemployment Fund.
“Labor & Industry is all about jobs that pay and jobs that prepare our youth for the careers of today and tomorrow,” said L&I Bureau of Workforce Development Administration Supervisor Michael White. “L&I’s use of the re-employment fund to work on the PA Outdoor Corps with DCNR is a perfect example of governmental collaboration, promoting youth transition services that allow students to be exposed to the world of work and the necessary skills for future success.”
The statewide program is based in state parks and forests locations in rural and urban locations, particularly those areas close to disadvantaged communities and school districts. Crews are dispatched within the region, working on public lands with resource and infrastructure project needs.
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps consists of two components: a six-week, summer program for youth between the ages of 15-18; and four 10-month programs for young adults ages 18-25. Locations were set up across the state to help facilitate participation by youth and young adults in disadvantaged communities.
Initial site locations in 2016 for the younger group were Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre and Johnstown. Signaling growth of the program, this summer it included Erie, Meadville, Pittsburgh, Uniontown, Altoona, McConnellsburg, Saint Marys, Renovo, Williamsport, Harrisburg, York, Reading, Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia.
The Outdoor Corps tackled hands-on projects such as trail restoration, tree planting, light construction, shoreline restorations and invasive species management in state and local parks, state forests and other public lands.
To oversee the program, DCNR appointed Scott Carney as Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps Coordinator.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s oldest and largest youth conservation organization. Founded in 1957, its mission is to build future conservation leaders, and seven in 10 of SCA’s 80,000 alumni worldwide are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more information visit www.thesca.org.