HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Young adults in the City of Harrisburg are invited to get a first-hand look at a potential future summer program where they can earn money while taking care of the environment.

City leaders are partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) on its popular PA Outdoor Corps workforce development event. This six-week paid program features youth in groups from 15-18 years old and 19-25 years old completing recreation and conservational projects on Pennsylvania’s public lands throughout the commonwealth.

From July 5 through July 8, five members of the PA Outdoor Corps’ younger group will be participating in a pilot program at Harrisburg’s Reservoir Park. City leaders hope to make the capital city a permanent fixture in environmental and conservational development, whether through DCNR or on its own.

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Participating PA Outdoor Corps members are being paid around $13/hour by the commonwealth, and city leaders hope to install a similar program in Harrisburg as early as summer 2023.

“We want the next generation of conservationists to come out of our diverse city,” said Mayor Wanda R.D. Williams. “This program, should we be so fortunate to make it an annual event, will give kids here something to do in the summer when they’re out of the classroom, as a way to put back into the community and make it more beautiful and safer.”

While at Reservoir Park, PA Outdoor Corps members will learn invasive species management, with specific education on dealing with Spotted Lanternflies. There will be lessons in staining, painting, and mulching, and how to use basic tools. Tree pruning and planting is on the agenda, as well as GIS mapping. The group will work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Among the projects needed work done at Reservoir Park this summer include scraping and painting doors and window trims, replacing and painting guiderails on trails, electrical work on multiple outlets which need replaced, screen doors which need replaced, and sign repair masonry work, according to City of Harrisburg Parks and Recreation Director David Baker.

The hope is young people in the City of Harrisburg can see the hands-on work being done by the PA Outdoor Corps and sign up in future years.

“What we want to do is to educate our youth and our young adults about taking care of our planet, taking care of their neighborhoods, and taking care of our trees or forests,” said Harrisburg environmental advocate and program organizer Rafiyqa Muhammad. “This is an opportunity that they can look at other alternatives, and make changes in their lives.”

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