Harrisburg, PA -- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, Department of Labor and Industry Secretary (L&I) Jennifer Berrier, Office of Administration (OA) Secretary Michael Newsome and Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams today visited with crew members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps Youth Crew during its first week of work at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg.
The PA Outdoor Corps is a signature program within DCNR, created during the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf. More than 900 young people have completed the program, which provides opportunities for paid work experience, job training and environmental education to help corps members become successful stewards of our natural resources and productive citizens. The corps is managed by DCNR and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and is supported through funding provided by L&I, as well as private philanthropic partners.
“I am always energized by these visits and enjoy spending time with our future leaders as we are doing today,” Dunn said. “I am hopeful that this summer experience provides the spark that creates lifelong conservationists and helps these amazing young people learn skills they can take forward into whatever career path they choose to follow. Thank you to DCNR and SCA staff that keep this incredible program running each year, as well as our sister agencies that support its operations.”
Established in 2016, the corps offers young people the opportunity to serve on a team and complete conservation projects that protect, enhance, and restore Pennsylvania’s public lands. It also teaches participants about public service and provides job skills and ethics to make them better employees.
“Outdoor Corps not only gives young people a chance to gain the lifelong skills needed to be successful in their future careers, but it gives them meaningful experiences as they engage with and learn about Pennsylvania’s natural resources,” Berrier said. “Any opportunity for Pennsylvanians to earn while they learn is at the foundation of a successful workforce model. L&I is proud to support Outdoor Corps and its ongoing effort to build connections, promote conservation, and provide educational employment opportunities for young workers.”
In 2016 the program started with just five youth crews. This year there are 23 crews across the commonwealth:
- Thirteen 6-week youth (age 15-18) crews based in: Erie; Greensburg; Harrisburg; Hazleton; Pittsburgh (two crews: community and American Sign Language); Reading; Renovo; Ridgeway; Wellsboro; Wilkes-Barre; Williamsport; and York.
- Ten 10-month young adult (age 18-25) crews are based in Altoona; Harrisburg; Meadville; Pittsburgh; Saint Marys; Wilkes Barre; Williamsport; and statewide Natural Resource, Cultural Resource, and Trail crews.
“In just a few years, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps has become a proven path to careers in the conservation field at DCNR and beyond,” said Newsome. “In addition to the hands-on experience they’re having today, participants also receive professional development, coursework and certification opportunities that they can use to build their resumes and compete in the job market.”
Dunn noted the program targets underserved communities to increase awareness about conservation in them, and to diversify young people who have an interest in natural resource protection jobs. DCNR is working with the city of Harrisburg to explore options for a city-specific crew.
“We want the next generation of conservationists to come out of our diverse city,” said Mayor Wanda R.D. Williams. “This program, should we be so fortunate to make it an annual event, will give kids here something to do in the summer when they’re out of the classroom, as a way to put back into the community and make it more beautiful and safer.”
Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps members this year are working in more than 100 parks, forests, and communities across the state on projects including:
- Trail work
- Habitat enhancement
- Improving park and forest assets such as buildings, drainage structures and landscaped areas
- Tree planting
- Storm damage restoration
- Inventorying trees planted in communities
Alumni of the PA Outdoor Corps have obtained employment with conservation organizations including DCNR, SCA, National Parks Service, National Forest Service, and other conservation organizations, thanks in part to experience with the corps.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps visit the DCNR’s website.
Wesley Robinson, DCNR, 717-877-6315
Alex Peterson, Labor and Industry
Dan Egan, Office of Administration
Matt Maisel, City of Harrisburg
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