COOKSBURG, Pa. – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recently visited members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps American Sign Language (ASL) Inclusion Crew at Cook Forest State Park in Forest and Jefferson Counties.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with the ASL Inclusion Crew and look forward to seeing the impact their work has on one of our more beautiful parks,” Dunn said. “This initiative is a testament to our nature for all principles in action, and I thank our leaders with the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps for prioritizing accessible methods to engage young people in the conservation space.”
The PA Outdoor Corps is a signature program within DCNR that was created in 2016. More than 1,200 young people have participated the program, which provides opportunities for paid work experience, job training, leadership skill development, and environmental education to help corps members become successful stewards of our natural resources and conservation leaders. The ASL Inclusion Crew was created in 2021, expanding access to outdoor opportunities for the deaf community, with the support of Corps That.
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, interpersonal communications, and ethics to prepare them for the modern workplace.
In 2016 the program started with just five youth crews. This year there are 28 crews with 181 participants across the Commonwealth.
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.
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is financially supported by DCNR and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Reemployment Program, along with private contributions made through the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. The Student Conservation Association is the operating partner for the program
For more information about the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps visit the DCNR’s website.