Thursday, November 1, 2018

State Forester Visits SCI Rockview To Tout Program Preparing Inmates For Careers In Tree Maintenance

Pennsylvania State Forester Ellen M. Shultzabarger this week visited State Correctional Institution Rockview in Centre County and met with prison officials and inmates enrolled in the facility’s Forestry Camp.
The Forestry Camp provides training for a select group of inmates who manage forests on 2,500 acres at SCI Rockview.
A new arboriculture course, created with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and now in its second year, provides valuable training to help inmates find employment upon their release in the high-demand field of tree maintenance.
Shultzabarger had the opportunity to watch inmates prune trees at Rockview’s 60-acre nursery, which grows ornamental trees and shrubs.
“We are proud of the work the Forestry Camp staff and teams do to manage our extensive forest network,” said SCI Rockview Superintendent Mark Garman. “The collaboration with DCNR has expanded the opportunities for camp participants to advance their knowledge and learn additional skills to help them find good jobs following their release.”
The forestry detail manages prison forestland for timber and firewood production, maintains roads and trails, and conducts tree pruning, tree planting, and hazard tree removal for area communities.
The Forestry Camp also has a wildfire crew available to fight forest fires on institution property and assist the state Bureau of Forestry as needed.
“This program has successfully helped connect reentrants for employment in the tree-care industry, and DCNR is committed to recruiting more people into outdoor professions,” said Shultzabarger. “We are excited to expand this intra-agency Correctional Conservation Collaboration into other realms of conservation, including forestry, riparian (stream) buffers, and pesticide application, as well as to other DOC institutions.”
The five-week arboriculture training program includes sessions on tree climbing and tree safety, tree identification and pruning. The curriculum is based on the International Society of Arboriculture’s Arborist Certification Study Guidebook.
The ISA, in support of this program, donated 20 guidebooks, which typically cost $125 each. Completion of the course prepares inmates for the Arborist Certification exam.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania companies employ among the largest number of people in the tree maintenance field in the nation.
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