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Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation Highlights Opportunities to Sector’s Workforce


Outdoor recreation supports 152,000 jobs in the Commonwealth, and Shapiro Administration sees opportunity to grow total number of jobs, wages.

Harrisburg, PA -- The Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation held a webinar earlier this week to discuss opportunities for growing the Commonwealth’s outdoor recreation workforce and strengthening economic opportunities for Pennsylvania residents.

Governor Shapiro’s budget is committed to making investments that will enable a new generation of Pennsylvanians, and visitors from across the world, to enjoy our parks, trails, and forests, while capitalizing on economic development opportunities that arise from our natural resources.

"A skilled and competitive workforce is the backbone of Pennsylvania’s $14 billion outdoor industry," Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner said. “We talked with 10 Pennsylvanians about how their highly diversified work transforms outdoor recreation into a powerful, and pleasant, force for community and economic development. Their work in our great outdoors creates one of the most valuable assets we have to retain our youth and attract new residents to Pennsylvania.”

The outdoor recreation sector supports 152,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and total compensation for outdoor recreation work ranks seventh among all states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (PDF).

Reigner noted that Pennsylvania has room to grow workforce compensation, as the state’s rate of compensation growth ranks 38th among all states.

“Addressing workforce development in the outdoor recreation sector is an important part of our role in ensuring Pennsylvanians have good jobs and healthy recreational opportunities,” Mandy Book, Acting Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary of Business Financing and Workforce Development. “Developing Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation workforce is key to growing the sector and maximizing the immense potential to create new jobs and bolster wages for existing jobs in the field.”

Outdoor recreation workers making about 57 percent the wages of the average Pennsylvania worker, $44,623 in 2021, compared with $77,884 for all salaried jobs in the state. Many jobs in the sector are seasonal and require supplementary employment or unemployment compensation to make ends meet.

“Our employees are the lifeblood of the company and we rely on them to be a successful business,” said Ladora “Lori” Phillips, general manager of Ski Big Bear at Masthope Mountain and member of the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association. “We are grateful to the Shapiro Administration for working to build up the outdoor recreation workforce and create a better path for its workers.”

Pennsylvania has the sixth largest outdoor recreation economy in the nation, supported by a combination of its exceptional recreational assets, an economy that is generally diverse in sources of revenue, active participation by Pennsylvania residents, and strong retail, manufacturing, and tourism sectors.

Outdoor recreation adds nearly $14 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy. Nationally, outdoor recreation generates $862 billion in economic output, accounting for approximately 3 percent of all jobs in America.

“One major tenet in building Cameron County’s economic future is centered around the outdoors because it provides an opportunity to create new businesses, expand tourism, and enhance the health and wellness of locals,” Cameron County Marketing Director Josh Zucal said. “At the center of these new opportunities are the workers who will be stewards of the outdoors and the support businesses that draw people to our county.”

DCNR, DCED and other state agencies are developing an Office of Outdoor Recreation, which would be responsible for coordinating and synergizing among entities within and connected to state government to help align and support strategic initiatives, partnerships, policies, resources, and more.

Workforce development is a key priority of the Shapiro Administration and in the plans of the Office of Outdoor Recreation.

The agencies have also created a Recreation Engagement Coalition (REC) that includes members from across Pennsylvania with local, regional and statewide influence and expertise in the outdoor recreation sector representing multiple disciplines.

Reigner noted that he is hosting statewide stakeholder meetings, which began March 29 at York College’s Center for Community Engagement in York County.

The stakeholder meetings will conclude Thursday, April 27 at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

Other stakeholder meetings include the following:

  • Wednesday, April 5 – John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia
  • Thursday, April 6 – Nurture Nature Center, Easton
  • Tuesday, April 11 – Conewango Club, Warren
  • Wednesday, April 12 – Lycoming College, Williamsport
  • Thursday, April 13 – Montage Mountain, Scranton
  • Tuesday, April 25 – Frick Environmental Center, Pittsburgh
  • Wednesday, April 26 – Discovery Center, Johnstown

Contact the Director of Outdoor Recreation for more information about the meetings.

Visit DCNR’s website for more information on Pennsylvania’s efforts to grow the outdoor recreation economy, and check out DCNR’s Calendar of Events for events on public lands.

MEDIA CONTACT: Wesley Robinson, DCNR, 717-877-6315

Penny Ickes, DCED

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