Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Rachel Reyna is Chief of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry’s Rural and Community Forestry section.
Rachel received the Mira Lloyd Dock Outstanding Woman Conservationist Award in 2019 for her work in promoting healthy forests around the state.
As part of the Rural and Community section, she works to establish good practices in forest stewardship through outreach, program management, and building relationships within communities.
Rachel maintains partnerships with conservation and educational organizations, oversees grants, and coordinates efforts of nationally recognized forestry programs.
The Watershed Forestry program is working to plant streamside forest buffers and converting lawns to more environmentally friendly options. TreeVitalize serves to foster tree canopy in urban and suburban communities.
The Woodland Stewardship Program is a statewide partnership that works to conserve and sustain working forests by focusing primarily on the approximately 70 percent of Pennsylvania forestland that is owned by private citizens.
“The program promotes the wise management and use of our forest resources to ensure the health, productivity, and perpetuation of the many benefits forests provide to society,” says Rachel.
The benefits of healthy forests are diverse and improve many aspects of our lives. More jobs, carbon storage, pollution reduction, improved water quality, habitat for wildlife, and open space to enjoy -- the list goes on.
Better management helps the forest to retain, and even increase, the benefits it produces.
The Woodland Stewardship Program works through a sequence of increasing landowner commitment.
Because Rachel works closely with the public, people skills are as essential as natural resource training.
Through a process of education, planning, and encouragement, private landowners are enabled to take action and implement long-term conservation measures.
“The decisions people make can have far-reaching impacts that can range anywhere from good to harmful. What you do as one person can make a difference,” Rachel says. “What we do together for conservation is powerful, meaningful, and can continue to provide benefits to society far beyond our own tenure on this planet.”
Rachel can trace her love of the forest from the many childhood summers spent driving around the country, exploring the United States in places like National Forests.
“We were always hiking around and exploring the woods from our campsites and listening to presentations by forest or park staff,” says Rachel. “Through these adventures, I developed a lifelong love of the woods -- and also of travel.”
There are many ways to get involved in forest conservation, such as planting trees in your neighborhood or yard. Contact a local conservancy to see what opportunities they may have available or reach out to a nature center near you to see what help they may need.
“Volunteering time for conservation projects is a great way to really get out and experience nature and to learn from the folks who have been working in various natural resource fields,” Rachel says. “It is also a great way to do something tangible to make the world a better place.”
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate someone.