Charity Checkout for Conservation raises funds for PA Wilds state parks, forests

Charity Checkout for Conservation raises funds for PA Wilds state parks, forests

Program benefits DCNR’s public lands in PA Wilds


MT. JEWETT — Partners involved in growing the PA Wilds region as an outdoor recreation destination to help revitalize rural communities and inspire stewardship are implementing a new accessibility project: installing viewfinders at select state park and forest locations around the region that will allow colorblind people to see color. 

The project, which will result in accessibility improvements at 10 locations, is being funded through a charity checkout campaign founded and operated by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center) in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF). The Center, which leads the PA Wilds effort in coordination with state and local partners, started the charity checkout program in late 2019, shortly after launching a commerce platform devoted to improving market access for locally made products.      

The “Charity Checkout for Conservation” program allows people to make donations of any size to support state parks and state forests in the Pennsylvania Wilds when shopping at any of the Center’s PA Wilds Conservation Shop gift shops or online at The Center gives 100 percent of the charity checkout donations collected on the platform to the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation to reinvest in the PA Wilds. So far, nearly $50,000 has been raised. 

“We have the greatest concentration of public lands in the Commonwealth here in the Pennsylvania Wilds, most managed by PA DCNR,” says Ta Enos, PA Wilds Center CEO. “These lands are one of our biggest tourism draws, and the foundation of our growing rec economy. Visitation is a major economic driver in our region, benefiting rural communities in a lot of ways. The Center is proud to create this new sustainable revenue stream to support stewardship of and investment in these important natural assets – it goes to the heart of our mission of marrying conservation and economic development. We’re grateful for and inspired by the many residents and visitors who have already donated in the time it’s been available.” 

DCNR, a foundational investor in the PA Wilds effort, will be installing the viewfinders at nine different state parks in the PA Wilds (Leonard Harrison, Colton Point, Bald Eagle, Black Moshannon, Hyner View, Kettle Creek, Little Pine, Sinnemahoning, and Cook Forest), as well as for Tiadaghton State Forest. In some cases, a new viewfinder will be installed; in others, a specialized technology will be installed in an existing viewfinder. 

“I know a lot of organizations have had diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility on the mind in recent years,” Enos said. “We are no different. I’d honestly not really considered how colorblindness impacts the outdoor recreation experience until I watched a video that an organization in Tennessee released that showed colorblind people looking through these types of specialized viewfinders and seeing for the first time the spectacular show mother nature puts on during the fall leaf season. It was really moving. We have one of the best fall leaf seasons in the country, so it seemed like a great investment for us too.”

“We are really excited about this project,” said DCNR’s Alan Lichtenwalner, who oversees 28 of the 29 state parks in the PA Wilds as a Regional Manager. “Our hope is to have these installed prior to the 2023 fall leaf season.” 

Founded in 1999, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF) is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to inspiring stewardship of Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. PPFF helps support park and forest friends groups, does advocacy work related to its mission, provides educational programming and training, and is involved in projects and partnerships like the one with the PA Wilds Center. PPFF published a study in 2018 that showed the PA Wilds region faced a $500 million gap in funding for state park and forest infrastructure.

“Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests are the crown jewels of the Commonwealth,” said PPFF President Marci Mowery. “With our shared commitment to these public lands, partnering with the PA Wilds Center was a natural fit. The support of the public indicates their passion for these public lands and their commitment to the stewardship of our parks and forests.”

This is the second round of projects that will be completed through the charity checkout program, Enos said. “We’ve been operating the program since August 2019, but between the pandemic and then the region being a finalist in the national Build Back Better Regional Challenge, actually announcing it took a back seat. We are proud of the program and the giving spirit we are seeing through it, and thrilled to finally be able to tell our communities about it.” 

“The first slate of projects, completed in 2020, included new interpretive panels at Bald Eagle State Park, and assisting the Kinzua Bridge Foundation with playground equipment at Kinzua Bridge State Park,” said Meredith Hill, Acting Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services who leads DCNR’s PA Wilds Conservation Landscape program. “We greatly appreciate this charity checkout program, one more benefit of DCNR’s wonderful partnership with both the PA Wilds Center and PPFF.” 

Currently, the Center operates Conservation Shops at Kinzua Bridge State Park and a mobile unit at Hills Creek State Park. Abbi Peters, the Center’s COO and a founder of the PA Wilds Conservation Shop program and the charity checkout for conservation, says she expects the program to continue to grow as the Center opens additional mission-driven gift shops in coming years. 

“Those who visit Pennsylvania state parks are thankful that they’re free, and many are willing to donate to ensure these public lands are cared for and maintained for future generations,” Peters says. “We are proud to be able to offer this opportunity to shop patrons and to support PPFF’s mission and impact in the Pennsylvania Wilds with funds raised.”

To learn more about the 29 state parks and eight state forests of the Pennsylvania Wilds region that will benefit from this campaign, visit

For more information about the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, visit  To learn more about the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, visit



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 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 over 300 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 To learn more about the WCO, visit Explore the PA Wilds at Find regionally made products at  


Media Contact:

Britt Madera | PA Wilds Center Communications Manager

570-948-1051 | [email protected]

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