Founded in 1992, the Earth Conservancy has been on a mission to reclaim nearly 16,500 acres of legacy mine lands in Luzerne County. The organization is not only focused on restoring land, but on enhancing the region’s economy and workforce through a program funded in part by a PPL Foundation grant.
“The land was scarred,” explained Alana Roberts, regional affairs director, PPL Electric Utilities. “What were once acres of eyesores and safety hazards, have become areas of growth and opportunity in the region thanks to the work of the Earth Conservancy.”
The restored land is being used for residences, businesses and even recreational trails that connect towns, parks and sports fields. In addition to restoring land to improve their community, the Earth Conservancy offers an educational program to the residents in the area to help build their futures.
The Environmental Workforce Program, funded by a grant from The PPL Foundation, is a training program for unemployed and underemployed workers in the 12-county region. The Conservancy partnered with Penn State Wilkes-Barre to develop the tuition-free program focused on land surveying, construction safety and hazardous materials clean up.
For three months, up to 25 participants are taught the skills needed to find self-sustaining employment in environmentally focused fields. Once completed, the Earth Conservancy works with the program graduates on the next steps of their job searches or educational journeys. The average employment rate for program alumni seeking work is over 87%.
“Everyone has a unique story,” said Elizabeth Hughes, director of communications for the Earth Conservancy. “I am so proud of their journeys. What I love is that people can go in different directions once they have the initial training. An interest is sparked, and often the job can become a career.”
Click here to learn more about the Earth Conservancy and The Environmental Workforce Program.