DCNR Seeks Applicants for New Next Gen Council to Increase Participation, Diversity at State Parks and Forests

DCNRCredit: PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

HARRISBURG, PA — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recently announced the department is seeking applicants for its new Next Gen Council, which has a goal to increase public participation and diversity at state parks and forests by gathering input from a diverse group of engaged individuals. The development of the council is part of DCNR’s mission to conserve and sustain Pennsylvania’s natural resources for present and future generations’ use and enjoyment.

“DCNR is committed to expanding access to outdoor recreation and ensuring public lands are welcoming to all, which is why we are creating the Next Gen Council, with an eye for new approaches to engagement, programs and other opportunities,” Dunn said. “This council is a great opportunity to learn more about DCNR and what it does, as well as a chance to provide fresh, new ideas to help promote our beautiful state parks, forests and other natural resources. We are excited to see this council come to fruition and are eager to accept applications and select the charter council.”

DCNR is launching the Next Gen Council to increase public participation and expand its diversity of perspectives to help to inform DCNR programs and operations, while also creating lasting engagement with young people. Those selected to the council would help inform the agency’s work, advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and create lasting change and necessary conditions to ensure all Pennsylvanians feel welcome on public lands.

Apply for the council here. Applications will be accepted through Sunday, January 16, 2022.

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“We want people who are willing to share their ideas and perspectives,” Dunn said. “Experience and conservation and government is not needed to apply, but we do want people who are willing to work together towards the goal of supporting recreation for all, especially our future generations.”

Participants will have the opportunity to learn about careers in conservation, gain additional knowledge and experience in outdoor activities and sports in parks, forests, and trails, the chance to meet and work with DCNR staff and leaders, obtain invaluable leadership experience, and help their communities by working with DCNR to serve all Pennsylvanians more effectively.

The council will meet once every three months. Meetings are virtual to reduce travel and promote accessibility. Council term is two years, and council members are expected to participate in at least 75 percent of meetings.

In addition to its commitment to diversity through its Next Gen Council, DCNR has led on DEI efforts among commonwealth agencies, creating a DEI-focused committee in 2017. The department also recently introduced “Nature for All” trailhead signs.

Working to make the outdoors more accessible for all people is a part of Pennsylvania’s Outdoor Recreation Plan and the Penn’s Parks for All strategic plan.

Some actions DCNR has taken to address DEI on public lands include:

  • An ongoing employee training program
  • Utilizing GIS mapping to improve equity in grantmaking
  • Studying park and open space access across the state
  • Incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into the daily work of all areas within the agency

Any questions about council, and application materials, can be directed to Emily Hendrickson. For more information about DEI at DCNR, please visit DCNR’s website.

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