RB Winter State Park’s very first group of friends are ready to fulfill their mission of supporting the People’s Union County Park.

New volunteer Friends of RB Winter State Park is a new chapter formed under the direction and guidance of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF), a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit that partners with 121 parks in State and 20 state forests. districts. Its mission is to conserve, support and protect the park’s resources by promoting education, responsible recreation and stewardship for present and future generations.

“In Pennsylvania, we are surrounded by so many opportunities to experience the outdoors because of 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest land,” said Group President Mary Marshall. “I have personally benefited in countless ways from the time I have spent exploring, hiking, biking, camping, swimming, and attending outdoor educational and recreational events in our beautiful state. I hope the RB Winter State Park Friends Groups, and the dozens of other Friends Groups across the state, will continue to grow in order to support, maintain, conserve and enhance these opportunities for the benefit of all.

Marshall first came to RB Winter as a child when her grandmother took her swimming and exploring.

“As an adult, I spend a lot of my free time hiking, biking and camping in PA State Parks alone, with friends and family,” he said. she declared. “Since RB Winter is the closest state park to my home, and I’ve had so many wonderful experiences there, I thought getting involved with the group of friends was a great way to move it forward by ensuring that the park has the necessary resources and that members of surrounding communities have the opportunity to enjoy and manage the outdoors.

Marshall: “Spark” started two years ago

The spark in the group’s formation began almost two years ago when Marci Mowery, Executive Director of PPFF, gave a presentation to the Buffalo Valley Retirement Community on the history of Pennsylvania State Parks. After months of delay due to the pandemic, PPFF and Michael Crowley, park manager at RB Winter State Park, and staff held a virtual meeting to gauge local interest in forming a group. After several discussion meetings, and the Board nomination process completed, the Group was officially organized and recognized under the PPFF in May.

So far, they have had two days of volunteer work, which has involved painting signage in the park, refreshing the park office, replacing mulch in one of the play areas, and removing invasive plant species, so many ongoing goals. They also received financial contributions from park members and visitors to provide resources for future projects and initiatives.

Other short-term goals include: providing and assisting with programming in the park that attracts a wide range of participants; work with the park management / educator to develop ideas for events and / or programs; providing volunteers for events and programs organized in parks; assist the park with social media and promotion of the park and related events / opportunities; provide volunteer opportunities in the park; completing waste disposal and beautification projects around the Raymond B. Winter State Park complex, which includes McCalls Dam State Park, Ravensburg State Park and Sand Bridge; adopt a portion of Route 192; and maintain the trails.

“Friends groups are doing great things across the Commonwealth and I can’t wait to see great work being done here at RB Winter State Park,” Crowley said. “People love this park and the group of friends is a way for these people to volunteer and help the park.”

One of the 50 groups

Wesley Robinson, spokesperson for the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said the RB Winter Friends Group was one of 50 groups at the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation along with 15 other independent groups from the PPFF. Groups of friends work in state parks and forests and may adopt parks grouped into park complexes.

“Groups of friends are invaluable to the operation of state parks and forests,” said Robinson. “The time, energy and effort that they devote to raising awareness of the parks, cleaning up after busy weekends, organizing important events or helping with planning really can’t be done. underestimated. At DCNR, we are grateful for their generous contributions to the parks and forests we manage.

Volunteers help complete DCNR operations in a way that gives staff the time and resources to perform maintenance and other project work, he said.

“They are of great benefit to the state’s parks and forests by inspiring good management, encouraging volunteerism, expanding educational and recreational opportunities, raising funds and much more. State parks and forests belong to the people, so we are happy to work with and have the support of concerned citizens, ”said Robinson.

Groups of friends generally do not receive government funding. They organize fundraisers and may have membership fees or accept donations to help fund their operations, he said.

“There are a lot of volunteers who volunteer their time to help clean up parks or work with state park staff to help. Certain organizations may also qualify for grants, ”said Robinson.

Volunteer days

The next day of volunteer work is September 18th. Volunteer days will be held on the third Saturday of each month and planning meetings will be held on the first Wednesday of each month.

In addition to Marshall, the board consists of Vice President Gary Kendall, Treasurer Brian Brown, Secretary Jack Miller and Outreach / Media Coordinator Kyle Fawcett.

“As a new group of friends, we are working hard to recruit additional members and we have already had over two dozen people who attended a meeting, volunteered on a work day and / or donated, ”Marshall said.

Other volunteer events and opportunities will develop as the group of friends grows. People can find out more and keep up to date with events by following RB Winter State Park’s Friends Group on Facebook or Instagram, or by signing up to their mailing list at Amisofrbwinter.org. Financial contributions can also be made to Amisofrbwinter.org.