Jennerstown, Somerset County, PA -- Today, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and other DCNR officials visited a project underway by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps at Laurel Ridge State Park, Somerset County, where the secretary hailed the young adults for their strong work ethic.
"I always enjoy visiting these work sites because I hear firsthand how you young folks appreciate both the job opportunities you have, and the chance to connect with the outdoors and gain training necessary for future successful employment," Dunn told a crew building a firewood shelter for hikers on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. "I also hear nothing but praise for what you accomplish in state parks and forestlands throughout the state."
Beginning its fourth year, the highly acclaimed Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is a Wolf Administration initiative offering work experience, job training, and educational opportunities to young people who complete recreation and conservation projects on Pennsylvania's public lands. The program helps protect and restore public lands while providing young people with the knowledge to be good stewards of the state's natural resources.
Past achievement and its continuing growth recently earned the corps a 2019 Western Pennsylvania Environmental Award. Presented annually by Dominion Energy and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), the award recognizes organizations demonstrating leadership, effectiveness, and positive impact on the environment.
Based in Uniontown, youth working at Laurel Ridge State Park comprise one of nine young adult crews working throughout the state in a program offering job training and environmental improvements. After starting in spring 2016 with five teen crews, the corps has grown steadily to 26 crews of young adults and teens, with ages from 16 to 25.
In 2018, the Outdoor Corps completed projects in 28 state parks, 13 forest districts and seven municipalities. Based in eight Pennsylvania cities, the program addressed some of the state park and forest infrastructure needs totaling $1 billion.
To date, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps has engaged over 475 young people in conservation service work. Its membership is just under 40 percent non-white and 40 percent female.
"Whether it was battling invasive growth, restoring hiking trails or renovating a state forest gazebo, you Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps members work hard to protect and restore our public lands and waters, while receiving knowledge and expertise to be good stewards of our natural resources," Dunn said.
The DCNR secretary noted the program is a key element of the department's strategic efforts to connect with youth and expand job opportunities, particularly in underserved areas of the state.
The program is managed by DCNR in cooperation with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), with support provided by DCNR and the Department of Labor & Industry.
Selected young people join crews of 10 workers and two leaders, and work on trail maintenance, habitat restoration, vegetation management, park maintenance, light construction and more. Environmental education and job skills training also are provided.
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 the Student Conservation Association's website.
Visit the Pennsylvania Outdoors Corps web page for more details on the Pennsylvania Outdoors Corps.
MEDIA CONTACT: Terry Brady, 717-705-2225