New PPFF staff complete Leave No Trace certification. (Left to right: Margarita Caicedo, Jennifer Dunlap, Angelica Brill) Certificates presented by Ian Kindle, Environmental Education Coordinator for PA’s eastern state parks.

Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation Expands
PPFF adds an Ambassador, Intern, and Staff member to the team

Ensuring a place and an experience for everyone in the outdoors has long been a goal of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, the official non-profit partner for Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. The Foundation reinforced the goal of ensuring experiences for all in their new strategic plan.

Recognized for its work to address ADA improvements in our state parks and forests and to remove barriers to engaging in healthy outdoor recreation, such as PPFF’s transportation scholarship program Wilderness Wheels, the Foundation recently expanded its staff to help reach these goals.

To assist users in creating welcoming environments, developing outdoor skills, and utilizing Leave No Trace principles, PPFF welcomes their first official Ambassador, Margarita Caicedo, based at Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, who will work closely with Hispanic visitors in Eastern Pennsylvania.  “I am excited to welcome this rising demographic of park goers by helping to overcome language and cultural barriers that might be an impediment to experiencing the wonder of Pennsylvania’s protected public spaces”, says Caicedo.

Margarita, longtime resident of Reading who originates from Colombia, learned about PPFF during one of her regular visits to Nolde Forest. With a focus on the state’s easternmost parks, she hopes to use her positive park experiences and appreciation of the natural world to engage new and returning visitors. Caicedo completed the Leave No Trace certification program and will be promoting these principles of outdoor ethics for park visitors to follow in order to minimize impact and keep natural areas safe and enjoyable for all.

In May, PPFF welcomed its first post-pandemic summer intern, Angelica Brill.  Brill is a rising senior at Penn State University with a double major in Community, Environment, and Development as well as Spanish. Currently putting her knowledge to good use by refining the Foundation’s YouTube videos, recruiting guest bloggers, and creating a field guide of plants utilized by the Freedom Seekers traveling the Underground Railroad, Angelica is learning all about the inner workings of a nonprofit, the importance of advocating for natural resource protection, and forest stewardship. She will take this knowledge with her as she explores career opportunities in the environmental field.

Most recently added to the team is Jennifer Dunlap, PPFF’s new Public Engagement Coordinator. Dunlap comes with a background in Environmental Science and over ten years of nonprofit and land preservation experience gained while working in a variety of capacities within Manada Conservancy, a land trust serving Dauphin County, PA. In her role as Public Engagement Coordinator, Jennifer communicates the important role state parks and forests play in health, economics, and quality of life. Dunlap will develop materials and stories that advance the Foundation’s mission and vision, will assist the fifty chapters of the Foundation with their communication strategies, will organize corporate and other volunteer events and will create strategic partnerships to advance the need for the state to invest in the long-term maintenance of our state parks and forests.

Born and raised in Central PA, Jennifer is eager to learn more about the unique features of each state park and connect the public to the natural resources that exist all around them. “Visiting Cherry Springs for the first time last summer, I was reminded how beautiful our state is. It is important that future generations are able to have these same experiences.”

As added support to a solid existing team of staff headed by President Marci Mowery, Jennifer will join in being a voice for Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest land and an advocate for fulfilling the increasing stewardship and financial needs that must be met to protect these treasured natural areas for future generations.

“We are excited to enter this next phase of the Foundation’s growth,” said President Marci Mowery. “Our parks and forests are important assets to the state, yet they are repeatedly underfunded, creating a $1.4 billion need for investment. We all have a role in stewarding these special places as well as for being a voice for their care.”

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Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation Expands