by Colleen Campion

As the Bureau of Forestry acclimates to a renewed mission and takes sharper aim at “connecting with all people and communities we serve”, a growing number of forest districts and divisions are hiring for Environmental Education Specialist (EES) positions. You could think of the EES role as a bridge dedicated to fostering connections between the public and all the Bureau’s resource management efforts (and the resource itself!). Conservation education programming and each EES position in the Bureau of Forestry will uniquely develop over time to serve the varied and evolving needs in their area.

Currently, Forbes and Tiadaghton State Forests each have one full-time EES on staff. Michaux has one full-time EES and another position split 50/50 between EES work and service forester duties. Tioga and Susquehannock Forest Districts share a full-time EES position and Clear Creek also recently hired an EES to serve in their district. The Recreation Section is in the process of hiring an EES intended to focus on serving the motorized recreation community in the area of the Northcentral Regional ATV Trail. Recognizing the benefits of using more targeted education and public engagement opportunities, creative strategies are being used across the Bureau to establish EES positions.

Each EES in this growing network strives to connect with their local community and learn the many natural, historical, and recreational resources in their service areas. Many are centrally involved in the interpretive design work in their districts. They collaborate with their colleagues and can design educational programming and public events to demonstrate the effectiveness of the use of specific resource management methods. Skilled in communications and outreach, EESs use social media and the DCNR Calendar of Events to promote current happenings and share stewardship messages with the public. They are adept at working with wide-ranging audiences, including school-aged groups and teachers, volunteers, recreational users of all skill levels, legislators and municipalities, industry professionals, seasonal tourists, partner agencies, and other stakeholders. The versatility of the EES position in the Bureau of Forestry complements all other staff positions and amplifies the diverse nature of all the Bureau’s work.

By striving to meaningfully connect with, educate, and influence all people and communities, the Bureau can expand its impact in two profound ways: inspiring a more environmentally literate public and cultivating a new generation well-equipped to steward the forest resources of the future. The longevity of our work grows in education.

The Bureau of Forestry EES positions are all a little bit different but share many similar overarching goals and challenges. The team meets quarterly to communicate updates and assist each other with program development and public outreach. Starting this summer, we will also be meeting in-person annually to work on developing education plans together. As an additional layer of support, I host virtual ‘BOF Education Office Hours’ every other Friday afternoon. These are optional but a way of holding consistent space for any guidance or discussion related to education (sometimes just to help troubleshoot using the DCNR Calendar of Events!). If you’d like to know more, please reach out.

Forest Fridays is an initiative of DCNR, Bureau of Forestry. Pictures courtesy of DCNR, Bureau of Forestry. Email Colleen Campion at [email protected] or call (717) 480-3507