Pa. initiative teaches teens to protect, restore public lands: 'I like being involved'

The seven-week summer program aims to produce the next generation of conservationists.

Steve Tawa
August 06, 2018 - 2:00 pm
Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps trainees Giovani and Shyion

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is a statewide initiative that offers work experience, job training, and educational opportunities for young people, while being out in nature.

Overlooking Strawberry Mansion Reservoir in East Fairmount Park, State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said the program may also mold the next generation of conservation leaders.

That next generation includes 17-year-old Shyion, who happens to live in the neighborhood.

"I like being involved in new stuff in the community," Shyion said. "I feel that I'm helping out my community in some way. I'm learning new things, seeing animals, and appreciating the environment."

"And pretty much getting to identify what's invasive or non-invasive, what to cut or to not cut," said another 17-year-old, Giovanni, from the Juniata neighborhood, wielding pruning shears with a long handle.

Both teens were on a mission to clear invasive plants around the Discovery Center, used by the National Audubon Society and Philadelphia Outward Bound School. 

The seven-week summer program pays them $10.25 an hour, including breakfast and lunch, along with health insurance, and transportation to and from the job site.