2024 Wilds Are Working program to bring seven families to PA Wilds for the summer

2024 Wilds Are Working program to bring seven families to PA Wilds for the summer

This summer, seven remote workers and their families will immerse themselves in life in the Pennsylvania Wilds region as part of the third year of The Wilds Are Working: Remote Lifestyle Experience initiative. 

Originally piloted in summer 2022, the initiative allows remote workers to live, work, volunteer, and explore all that the rural region has to offer. Participants could come from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a sense of adventure and the ability to work remotely. This year, participants will live for one month in the communities of Williamsport and Saint Marys. 

“The Wilds Are Working program is now in its third year and has seen such tremendous results already in terms of helping people truly experience what our region has to offer and also providing communities with important feedback about how they can continue to be prime residential destinations for the modern workforce,” said Abbi Peters, PA Wilds Center Chief Operating Officer. “We had more than 80 applications come in this year, with applicants from 20 different states and some from outside of the country, truly demonstrating how valued this program is today. There were so many qualified and exceptional applications to review, and both host communities commented on how difficult the selection process was.”

Williamsport, the seat of Lycoming County, is located in the southeastern portion of the Pennsylvania Wilds, part of the Pine Creek Valley and PA Grand Canyon landscape. With a population of more than 27,000 residents, Williamsport is the largest city in the PA Wilds. Participants selected for Williamsport will spend the month of July enjoying the community’s charming, walkable streets. They’ll be surrounded by the city, but able to easily access the abundant outdoor recreation the region offers. 

“The (Williamsport/Lycoming County) Chamber is excited to host three remote workers from larger urban areas for four weeks this July,” said Jason Fink, President and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce. “ These workers were chosen from an application process because of their interest in experiencing the vast outdoor recreation amenities found here in Williamsport and Lycoming County. 

“We look forward to them realizing that they can have access to many of the conveniences found in urban centers while also going 5 miles in any direction to have access to some of the best outdoor experiences found in our country.”

Saint Marys is located in the heart of the PA Wilds Elk Country landscape. With a population just over 12,000 residents, the community offers a mix of city amenities while still being close to nature. In August, Wilds Are Working participants will explore and taste the local history: In addition to being home to Straub Brewery and its Eternal Tap, the community is home to the first Benedictine convent in the United States. This community is perfect for bicyclists, with nearby rails to trails that connect the town with the nearby community of Emporium via the West Creek Trail.

“Saint Marys is looking forward to hosting our Wilds Are Working program,” said Kim Andrus, Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Saint Marys. “We can’t wait to show off our city and welcome our participants to experience the beauty that surrounds us.  It truly is a breath of fresh air which captivates your soul, and leaves you yearning more.”

Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission through Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, and administered by the nonprofit PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., this project seeks to help address the issue of outmigration in rural areas by marketing PA Wilds communities as great places to live and work.

“Living and working in the Pennsylvania Wilds offers such a unique experience. Many Wilds Are Working participants have come from the busy city, where they may have access to a community park, but must otherwise juggle traffic and a longer commute to really get to the serenity of nature and participate in outdoor recreation opportunities. The PA Wilds offers a closer connection to nature, while still providing all the primary necessities and amenities needed for remote workers and the modern workforce,” Peters said. “We hope they find it a peaceful experience overall and that it really gives them a chance to see what a better work-life balance can truly look like when calling a rural place home.”

2024 PROGRAM DETAILS

Lodging accommodations are covered for remote workers during the experience. In addition, the workers receive a living stipend which can only be spent at local businesses as a way to inject more dollars locally into the region throughout the initiative. The stipends are provided in the form of a Shop the PA Wilds Gift Card, a digital card only redeemable at participating businesses within the Wilds region.

Applications opened in the spring of 2024 and were reviewed by a committee of community members in each respective community. Applicants have the ability to bring their partners, families and even pets, if applicable. During the application process, individuals are expected to share information about their employment status, what makes them a good fit for the program, interests and hobbies, and a brief introduction video for the committee’s review. 

Each community has a Community Lead Organization (CLO) spearheading the effort at the ground level. Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry is the CLO for Warren, and the Cameron County Chamber of Commerce & Artisan Center is the CLO for Emporium. As administrators in the respective communities, the CLOs are responsible for reviewing applications, making selections and coordinating arrangements for the remote workers.

A final component of this initiative is a placemaking effort called “Picture Yourself Here.” This project enables the participating communities to choose whether to install inspirational window wraps in downtown storefronts or produce a marketing video to help people picture themselves there. The window wraps and the video ultimately help position the communities as part of the PA Wilds region while also building important connections between the downtowns and nearby outdoor spaces.

Learn more about The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience program at WildsAreWorking.com or PAWildsCenter.org/Wilds-Are-Working.

 

ABOUT THE PA WILDS

The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center promotes the region and its 2+ million acres of public lands as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to diversify local economies, inspire stewardship, attract investment, retain population and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center’s core programs seek to help businesses leverage the PA Wilds brand and connect with new market opportunities, including: the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a network of more than 600 place-based businesses and organizations, and the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a retail outlet primarily featuring products sourced from the WCO. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit www.PAWildsCenter.org. To learn more about the WCO, visit www.WildsCoPA.org. Explore the PA Wilds at www.PAWilds.com. Find regionally made products at www.ShopThePAWilds.com

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.