Reprinted from DCNR’s Good Natured blog.
I had the incredible opportunity to work for the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps last year, including two leadership positions.
After graduating from Juniata College during the pandemic in 2020, like many of my classmates, my entry-level internship and career opportunities disappeared overnight.
It was a rough start to my career, but I don’t think I would have found this position with the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps if not for the pandemic.
Prior to joining the Outdoor Corps, I had the opportunity to work on a trail team in Colorado during my freshman year of college (Rocky Mountain Youth Corps), so I was aware of the type of work in which I was going to get involved.
Training and start-up
My journey in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps began with a week-long training in Halifax (thanks to Camp Hebron and their support). There we learned basic skills that we would use in the field and teamwork with our colleagues.
Some of these skills included: communication, understanding our own learning and leadership styles, reviewing basic carpentry needs, and learning wilderness first aid or chainsaw courses.
It was a great way to connect with those across the state who had similar interests, career goals, and hopes for the Corps’ upcoming season.
Not everyone who joined had an environmental career in mind. That’s one of the great things about the corps – you don’t have to have any training or a future in conservation to be a crew member.
Over the 10 months, you learn everything from communication to carpentry work.
The Corps wasn’t my first choice of job, but I wouldn’t trade my experience for any other job.
I learned so many skills and my confidence in myself and my abilities increased tenfold. I loved working with my crews and learning a lot from them and their personal experiences.
I had the amazing opportunity to start as a crew member, work as a junior crew chief over the summer, and then finish the season as Harrisburg’s crew chief.
Looking back, it was the best transition within the corps I could have hoped for.
Leadership roles in the outer body
The opportunity to become a summer youth team leader is offered to all members of young adult teams (18 to 25 years old).
The purpose of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps Summer Youth Program is to provide young people with work experiences, as well as to guide and encourage them for their future.
The ages of these young people range from 15 to 18, as do their personal experiences and future aspirations.
Whether they are preparing for the upcoming SAT and ACT or celebrating their senior year in high school and preparing for college, these future adults have joined this organization in hopes of learning new skills and knowledge. .
I was very grateful to have such a hardworking and collaborative team. It made the season very enjoyable and educational for all of us.
Members have learned as much from our projects as from each other.
My favorite project the summer youth team worked on was building walk-in campsites at Little Buffalo State Park.
Our job was to clear an area, level it, then set up a tent, fire pit and picnic tables.
We did over three campsites and were able to build the picnic tables that would later be placed at our sites.
I learned so much leading the Summer Youth Team that prepared me for the responsibilities of being the new Harrisburg Young Adult Team Leader.
My journey, past and future
As a youth and young adult crew leader, you learn to:
- Facilitate communication with DCNR staff
- Evaluate and manage projects taking into account the capacities of your members
- File appropriate administrative logs and reports
These teamwork and communication skills will help me throughout my career.
During my time with the crews, I made many connections within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Protection, The Nature Conservancy and Lancaster Conservancy.
I would never have won this network of environmental agencies without the help and projects provided by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps and the Student Conservation Association.
Now that the season is over, I hope to continue my path in conservation, whether that leads to government work, the private sector, or future study down the road.
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work on such amazing projects with so many amazing people throughout the season.
My future plans are to volunteer with the Keystone Trail Association and the Lancaster Conservancy to keep the many skills I learned with the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps fresh and ever-improving.
About Bri and the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps
Brianna (Bri) Geiner was a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps’ Harrisburg nine-month-old young adult crew. DCNR had nine teams for young adults ages 18 to 25 working on public lands and conservation projects across the state in 2022.
The Youth Employment and Enrichment Program is run by DCNR in cooperation with the Student Conservation Association, a national conservation employment organization.
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is now hiring for its 2023 Nine-Month Young Adult Teams and Cultural Resource Team. Find out how to participate in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps on the DCNR website.