28 September 2023

Happy 100th Birthday, Allegheny National Forest!

Written by: Alisen Hazeltine

After nearly eight months of preparation, the Allegheny National Forest Centennial Celebration has come and gone! On Sunday, September 24, 2023 the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), Pennsylvania’s only National Forest, turned 100 years old. The ANF was established in 1923 by President Calvin Coolidge through The Weeks Act allowing the federal government to buy land in eastern states for the establishment of National Forests.

The main purpose I was brought on as a Resource Assistant was to help in the organization and execution of the Centennial Celebration. It feels a bit unreal how fast this assistantship has passed, but am proud to reflect back on all of the exciting projects and opportunities I’ve been a part of.

With the help of many devoted Forest Service staff, as well as our partners at Friends of Twin Lakes ANF, our ideas became a reality. My main duties surrounding the celebration day included designing signage, banners (top left photo), the centennial passport, schedules, “swag” items, preparing booth materials, setting up and tearing down (top right photo), staffing the welcome table, and photographing the day’s events.

The event hosted at Twin Lakes Recreation Area began with a historic overview of the establishment of ANF followed by a panel of speakers including Gina Owens, Region 9 Regional Forester, and Glenn “GT” Thompson, Congressman of Pennsylvania (bottom right photo). The speeches concluded with a ceremonial cake cutting and tree planting. A white oak sapling was planted to commemorate the centennial, along with a plaque placed by ANF Forest Supervisor, Jamie Davidson (bottom left photo). Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl also made special appearances.

Staff from all disciplines of the forest stepped up to provide unique experiences for guests including interpretive guided hikes, ANF history exhibits, a “Meet Our Staff” station, and a “Talk to a Scientist” station with employees of the Northern Research Station. Live music was performed by local bands, TakeSolo (American Bluegrass), and One Last Breath (New and Classic Rock). Also present were food and beverage vendors, face painting artists, centennial merchandise, geocache seminars, and the centennial time capsule. Items were collected to capture the history and character of the forest to be placed in a time capsule to be opened in 50 years. I hope I’m able to attend the 2073 ceremony and reflect on my memories of ANF.

Reporters from Erie News Now attended the celebration and broadcasted a story recognizing the momentous 100th “birthday” of ANF. Additionally, articles were published by various news outlets including the Warren Times Observer, The Ridgway Record, and The Derrick. I’m so grateful for the recognition of our hard-working staff and the terrific work they do, while also exposing new audiences to the opportunities ANF has to offer.

Often, the public is unaware of the resources available to them, quite literally in their backyards. A few years ago, the US Forest Service partnered with the National Forest Foundation in the “It’s All Yours” campaign, which I believe is the perfect representation of what National Forests are meant to be. I am proud, and also excited for the potential opportunity to continue, to promote Allegheny National Forest and its outstanding recreational experiences.

As this entry concludes my blog responsibilities with Hispanic Access Foundation, I still remain in my contract with the US Forest Service until January 2024, in the hopes of becoming a permanent employee at ANF in Public Affairs. Thank you to Sylvia and Lady, Program Manager and Specialist of the Resource Assistants Program (RAP), for their hard work and dedication to this program which has catalyzed outstanding careers for many. Thank you to MANO Project, specifically my mentor Yashira, for encouraging and supporting me through it all. Lastly, a special thank you to my supervisor, Chris, for his leadership, dedication, and knowledge. What an outstanding team I have been surrounded with. Without further ado, that’s a wRAP, folks!

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