Pennsylvania looks to improve its outdoor recreation workforce opportunities

Outdoor recreation workers are making about 57% of the wages of an average Pennsylvania worker.

A view of a stream and woods.

Shown is newly announced Big Elk Creek State Park near Landenberg, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. In Chester County, the new park will include 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) of Big Elk Creek, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay at Elk River. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

This story originally appeared on WITF.

A series of stakeholder meetings across the state is focused on discussing opportunities for growing the Commonwealth’s outdoor recreation workforce and improving the economic opportunities for those workers.

Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner says “A skilled and competitive workforce is the backbone of Pennsylvania’s $14 billion outdoor industry”.

The outdoor recreation sector supports 152,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and total compensation for outdoor recreation work ranks seventh among all states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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Reigner notes Pennsylvania has room to grow workforce compensation, as the state’s rate of compensation growth ranks 38th among all states.

Outdoor recreation workers are making about 57 percent of the wages of an average Pennsylvania worker, $44,623 in 2021, compared with $77,884 for all salaried jobs in the state.  Many jobs in the sector are seasonal are require supplementary employment or unemployment compensation to make ends meet.

Pennsylvania has the sixth largest outdoor recreation economy in the nation which includes diverse sources of revenue, and strong retail, manufacturing and tourism sectors.

Outdoor recreation adds nearly $14 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy and nationally accounts for approximately three percent of all jobs in America.

DCNR and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development are joining other state agencies in developing an Office of Outdoor Recreation, which would be responsible for coordinating entities within and connected to state government to align and support strategic initiatives, partnerships, policies, resources, and more.

The statewide stakeholder meetings started last month in York County and will conclude April 27 at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

Other stakeholder meetings include:

  • Wednesday, April 5-John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia
  • Thursday, April 6-Nurture Nature Center, Easton
  • Tuesday, April 11-Conewango Club, Warren
  • Wednesday, April 12-Lycoming College, Williamsport
  • Thursday, April 13-Montage Mountain, Scranton
  • Tuesday, April 25-Frick Environmental Center, Pittsburgh
  • Wednesday, April 26, Discovery Center, Johnstown

More information can be found at DCNR’s website,

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