Shapiro Administration Bolsters Pennsylvania’s Outdoor Economy and Workforce with Investment in Outdoor Corps

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HARTLEY TOWNSHIP, PA — To enhance public lands and foster economic growth through outdoor recreation, the Shapiro Administration has announced significant investments in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. This initiative not only aims to improve the state’s vast natural landscapes but also to create valuable workforce development opportunities for young Pennsylvanians.

During a project on Wednesday to upgrade the Joyce Kilmer Trail in Union County’s Bald Eagle State Forest, officials highlighted the dual benefits of such programs: conservation efforts that simultaneously equip young adults with essential job skills. “The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps has a successful track record helping young adults develop the job skills needed to succeed in today’s economy,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.

Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget for 2024-25 earmarks $5 million to expand the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. This investment is part of a broader regional effort to diversify and strengthen conservation career pathways, offering young people paid work experience in outdoor-related fields. Such initiatives are crucial for building a skilled workforce ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities within Pennsylvania’s growing outdoor economy.

Additionally, Shapiro proposes an $8.5 million investment to enhance the state’s parks and forests. This funding is intended to make Pennsylvania a leading destination for trail experiences, which in turn supports community economic competitiveness, boosts tourism, and promotes public health.

This year, approximately 200 young individuals aged 15-25 will participate in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. The program introduces participants to natural resource conservation and related job sectors, providing them with valuable public service experience and job skills training. Corps members will undertake projects across more than 100 state parks, forests, and communities, engaging in activities such as trail work, habitat enhancement, tree planting, and storm damage restoration.

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In 2023, the Outdoor Corps made notable contributions to the state’s natural resources by improving 91 miles of trails, planting nearly 3,000 trees, and enhancing over 500 acres of natural lands and wetlands. These efforts not only benefit the environment but also provide a formative and rewarding experience for the corps members, laying the groundwork for future employment opportunities in conservation and recreation sectors.

The ongoing project at the Joyce Kilmer Trail, where a four-member crew is renovating a footbridge over Bear Run, exemplifies the tangible impact of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. This trail serves as an entry point to the Joyce Kilmer Natural Area, a sanctuary of old-growth forest named after the renowned poet and offering a peaceful retreat for nature lovers.

As these investments come to fruition, the Shapiro Administration’s vision for a vibrant outdoor economy and a skilled conservation workforce moves closer to reality, promising enhanced natural landscapes and economic opportunities for the state’s residents.

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