Rushing to the Front Lines
By Jeff Woleslagle
If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it is that we are all in this storm together. In any tragedy or crisis, you will see many people standing out and stepping up to save lives and make the world a better place. These heroic individuals can range from national leaders and health experts to ordinary citizens who rise to the occasion to help others in need.
The Bureau of Forestry has had no shortage of heroes in this battle. Folks within our ranks have rushed to help operate testing sites, move equipment and supplies, and provide logistical support during a very challenging time. Often this entails risks to their own safety as well as precious time away from their loved ones.
(Images above courtesy of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)
Many within the bureau have taken extensive training and course work in incident management that has optimized their response to fires, floods, hurricanes, and now a national pandemic. Robin Regester of the Tioga State Forest had this to say: “The true key to a successful incident, no matter what kind of incident, is team work.”
We are dedicating this week’s Forest Friday to those remarkable people who volunteered to put themselves on the front line with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Your time and sacrifice are appreciated not only by the many citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but by your Department of Conservation and Natural Resources colleagues as well. We honor your work and your sacrifice, and we thank you immensely for your service.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
– Fred Rogers
About the Author: Jeff Woleslagle
Jeff Woleslagle is a 1992 graduate of Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. After college he worked on various research projects for the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Montana, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. He came to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 1999 and has worked as a park ranger, forest ranger and Environmental Education Specialist prior to becoming the Bureau of Forestry’s Chief of Communications. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Jeff resides in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, with his wife Jodi and has two children, Alayna and Nathan. He enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading, hunting and fishing.
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