BEAR CREEK TOWNSHIP — While visiting the Seven Tubs Recreation Area on Thursday, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn questioned the notion that young people aren’t inclined to work hard or have little desire to be outside.
Dunn was in the area to meet with members of DCNR’s Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps, a program that offers work experience, job training, and educational opportunities to young people who complete recreation and conservation projects on state parks and forest.
After reviewing some of the work the crew did at Seven Tubs in the Pinchot State Forest this summer, Dunn said it’s clear that young people can work hard and appreciate the outdoors.
“We busted that myth,” she said.
The statewide program has been in existence for three years and consists of 16 crews ages 15 to 18 who work seven weeks during the summer, and nine crews of young adults ages 18-25 who work for 10 months. Participants are paid $10.25 an hour and spend their time improving state parks and forests for everyone to enjoy. Tasks include removing invasive plant species, repairing infrastructure and trail restoration.
When the program — which is an offshoot of the old Civilian Conservation Corps — was implemented in 2016 it consisted of five crews throughout the state. Last year it expanded to 10 locations throughout the state.
“The program has grown beyond our greatest expectation,” Dunn said.
While the program provides work experience for young adults, Dunn added it also exposes them to potential careers in the conservation field while working alongside DCNR staff.
“We’re hoping these young adults can see themselves in conservation work. Conservation is the “forever” business and we need to line up the next generation to do that work,” Dunn said.
Several participants of the five-member crew at Seven Tubs said they are interested in working in conservation, and their experience with the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is helping to guide them on that career path.
Dylan Troutman, 20, of Mount Carmel, said he wants to be a game warden with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. His time with the outdoor corps will look good on a resume, he said, and provided him with valuable work experience in the field.
“We did everything from trail work to spackling and dry wall in a building,” Troutman said. “It opens up a lot of opportunities.”
Stanley Kaminsky, 24, of Greenfield Township. said he wants a job dealing with environmental policy and helping to mitigate the impact of climate change.
The program not only provided work experience, he said, but a sense of accomplishment as well.
“As someone who appreciates the outdoors, it feels good to contribute something back and it’s rewarding to see the public experience what we built,” Kaminsky said.
The outdoor corps program is managed by DCNR in cooperation with the Student Conservation Association. Funding is provided by DCNR, the state Department of Labor and Industry’s Reemployment Program and private sources, according to Dunn.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky