Saint Marys and Williamsport to host remote workers for 2024 Wilds Are Working initiative

Saint Marys and Williamsport to host remote workers for 2024 Wilds Are Working initiative

Application opens March 6, submissions due by April 19


Remote workers will have the chance to apply for an opportunity to test out living in two new Pennsylvania Wilds communities for 2024: Saint Marys and Williamsport.

After two successful years, The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience initiative is now in its third year of the three-year grant-funded program. 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 by providing important feedback loops to participating communities about the needs and desires of the modern workforce. Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission through Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the program was designed and is administered by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds.

Originally piloted in summer 2022 in the PA Wilds communities of Bellefonte and Kane, the initiative allows remote workers to live, work, volunteer, and explore all that the rural region has to offer. The program had a successful second year in 2023, with the communities of Emporium and Warren hosting remote workers. 

Participants can come from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a sense of adventure and the ability to work remotely. 

The application for 2024 participants will open on March 6 at, and submissions are due by April 19.

Williamsport, the seat of Lycoming County, will host remote workers in July. It is the largest city in the PA Wilds region, with a population of nearly 28,000. Perhaps best known as being the birthplace of Little League baseball, the Williamsport area also has a rich heritage tied to the lumber industry and is home to two institutions of higher education (Pennsylvania College of Technology and Lycoming College), the Crosscutters minor league baseball team and more than a dozen local breweries. The West Branch Susquehanna River runs through Williamsport, offering beautiful views along the riverwalk and ample water recreation, and the renowned Pine Creek Rail Trail and PA Grand Canyon is just down the road. During the month of July, Williamsport hosts multiple community events, art festivals, and theater productions that participants will be able to enjoy.

Saint Marys will host remote workers in August. The community offers a mix of city amenities while still being close to nature. With a population just over 12,000 residents, Saint Marys is the second-largest city by geographical area in Pennsylvania, but due to the large space is actually one of the least densely populated cities in the state. Beer aficionados will fall in love with Saint Marys, the home of the historic Straub Brewery. With six parks and a community pool, families always have something to do. In addition, Saint Marys is not far from the Elk Country Visitor Center, the epicenter of the largest wild elk herd in the northeastern United States. The month of August offers opportunities for participating in weekly events, outside dining, parks, trout streams, leisurely drives, and scenic views.

“The first two years of The Wilds Are Working really showcased the diversity of what our region has to offer, especially to remote workers who value outdoor recreation and a sense of community,” said Abbi Peters, Chief Operations Officer at the PA Wilds Center. “The past host communities were able to draw from the experience, learning how they can better support newcomers and find a reinvigorated appreciation for all that their towns have to offer to both new and longtime residents. Tech and innovation workers have the opportunity to explore the PA Wilds and find a community with a great quality of life, and the region’s communities can use this as a way of looking inward to better position themselves for modern workers and travelers. We’re excited to see the unique experiences that Williamsport and Saint Marys will bring to the 2024 program.”



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 digital gift card (Shop the PA Wilds gift card), only redeemable at participating businesses within the Wilds region.

Five participants will be accepted for each community, and they will be notified in May.

The application will open on March 6 and will remain open until April 19, with applicants being able to select their interest in one or both of the communities. Applicants will be asked to indicate if they intend to bring their partners, families and pets. 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. The Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce is the CLO for Williamsport, and the City of Saint Marys is the CLO for Saint Marys. As administrators in the respective communities, the CLOs are responsible for reviewing applications, making selections and coordinating arrangements for the remote workers. 

“For the four weeks that they are here, we want participants to truly feel like residents of their communities. That also means getting out and truly experiencing all that the PA Wilds has to offer. Depending on their interests, this could mean something different for each participant: something as simple as a daily cup of coffee at a newfound favorite cafe or as adventurous as visiting an outfitter and planning a guided hike or paddle,” said Peters. “The funds provided to them in the form of a digital gift card will help them identify and make these opportunities a reality, all the while also infusing dollars into communities and small businesses throughout the PA Wilds.” 

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.

The funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission through Ben Franklin Technology Partners was on a three-year grant. Now in its third year, Williamsport and Saint Marys will be the final host communities for this iteration of the program. However, the PA Wilds Center will evaluate the feasibility of adjusting the concept of The Wilds Are Working initiative for potential different opportunities in the future.

Learn more about The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience program at or



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 is home to the greatest concentration of public lands in the Commonwealth. 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. Based in the region, the Center is the lead nonprofit for the PA Wilds Conservation Landscape effort, a 15+year collaborative effort by local, state and federal partners to establish the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to diversify local economies, attract investment, inspire stewardship, improve quality of life and attract and retain the region’s working-age population. PA Wilds Center works closely with PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Department of Community and Economic Development, the region’s county governments, and other investors in the regional strategy.

For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit To learn more about the WCO, visit Explore the PA Wilds at Find products made in the region at



Media Contact

Britt Madera | Communications Manager

PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.

[email protected] | 570-948-1051

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