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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Workshops help ‘teams’ take local projects from vision to action

A regional conference on sustainable tourism development will be held in early November in the Pennsylvania Wilds, and organizers are encouraging communities in the region to send teams to the two-day event to help advance local projects in their areas.

“PA Wilds Fall Workshop: Connecting Nature, Economy, and Community Character,” will be held Nov. 8-9 at the Red Fern in St. Marys.

The conference is designed to help communities advance sustainable tourism projects that are important to them. Participants will hear from state and national experts on topics relevant to the region, and then work as a group in a structured setting to flesh out their project ideas, budgets, and next steps.

The conference, offered by the PA Wilds Planning Team, is similar to one the group held in 2007, which led to several successful community-driven tourism projects in the region, from the “Trail Central” branding and trail developments in McKean County, to an impressive local, state, federal and private-sector partnership along the Clarion River that led to new directional signage and access points along that river, new water trail maps, and improved roads and public restrooms along the river corridor.

“Residents know best what projects have potential in their areas, but it is sometimes hard to find the time or opportunity to get the right people around the table to advance these good ideas,” said Planning Team Chair Dan Glotz. “The PA Wilds Fall Workshop is a great opportunity to finally get that team together and drill down to the nuts and bolts of how to get your project done. It’s also a great opportunity to network – with experts and potential funders, and with teams from other communities in the region who have dealt with challenges similar to your own.”

This year, conference organizers will be accepting six to eight teams from across the PA Wilds. The strongest teams will have five to seven people from a variety of backgrounds – small business owners, public lands managers, municipal officials, heritage and tourism professionals and community activists – who together bring a wide range of skill sets and knowledge to the table to help push projects forward. A passion for the work is a must. If you have a project idea, but need help identifying potential team members, the PA Wilds Planning Team can provide assistance — just contact Janine Morley at the phone number or email listed below.

Team tuition is $200; scholarships are available to help cover travel and lodging expenses. Applications are due Oct 5. Application packets and a working agenda for the event are available online at www.pawildsresources.org or by contacting Janine Morley at (814) 274-4877 or janine@pottercountyedcouncil.org.

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