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Forestry Camp Graduate Finds Employment in Environment Management

Tags: Rockview
September 22, 2021 12:00 AM
By: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Staff

Inmates tend to trees in the SCI Rockview Forestry Camp

The following is from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources newsletter:

Good Natured Pennsylvanians

Gary (last name withheld due to program anonymity) was among the 27 men in prison who signed up to take the Tree Tenders training at State Correctional Institution Huntingdon, hosted by DCNR and Penn State Extension.

A man kneels by a treeDuring the day-long workshop, participants learned about the value of trees, how trees receive and move nutrients, identifying characteristics of trees, and more.

Gary also learned in the workshop about the arboriculture vocational training DCNR organizes at the State Correctional Institution Rockview's forestry camp.

Gary said that hearing about the forestry camp during the Tree Tenders workshop affirmed he had to try it, so he put in his transfer to go from Huntingdon to Rockview.

Soon, Gary was at the forestry camp and attending class -- this time for a multi-week vocational and educational training, combining hands-on and classroom-based learning in arboriculture.

Participants climbed trees, tied climbing knots, and discussed which tree species would thrive in certain environments.

"The Earth is very alive, and we play an active role in how it takes care of us. We are stewards of the land. This work gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of nature," Gary says. "That is the biggest thing I took away from it."

Gary's outlook on life is soaking up everything he can to best equip himself for a successful career. Gary is a motivated learner and relentlessly curious -- if he didn't understand something during the training, he wouldn't hesitate to ask questions.

Inmates work on trees as part of the SCI Rockview forestry program

Gary has many interests ranging from fitness and health to affordable transitional housing for reentrants. Gary expressed an early interest in pursuing work in urban forestry.

Nearing his release date, Gary spoke with DCNR staff about various career paths and environmental non-profits in the Pittsburgh area.

Starting in January 2021, Gary was back in his hometown of Pittsburgh and working with Landforce -- which helps city organizations restore and maintain land and green assets by providing professionally skilled crews who can assist in environmental management.

Gary says the training program at State Correctional Institution Rockview's Forestry Camp was "instrumental in expanding my possibilities."

Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact us at to nominate someone.

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