Never before have the state Bureau of Forestry and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources had a environmental education specialist staffed in one of their state forests.
Usually, the state park system makes use of employees in that position. They organize programs for the public and help educate them.
The newly built Tiadaghton Forest Resource Management Center is the first ever to hire an environmental education specialist, or EES.
Richard Hill, of Loyalsock Township, has been hired at the center to educate the public about the forest and all the outdoor recreation offered in the Pine Creek Valley.
In his new position, he will help answer questions and get involved manning the interpretive exhibit that will be open inside the lobby by the middle of June.
"The bureau felt that having an educator here to help convey the story of forestry as well as to guide outdoor recreation on the Tiadaghton State Forest was a logical fit," said Christina Novak, DCNR press secretary.
"The Tiadaghton lies in the heart of the Pine Creek Valley, which draws countless visitors each year. Visitors to the valley will be able to enjoy guided recreation and nature programs on Pine Creek, on the rail trail and throughout the Tiadaghton State Forest," she said.
The center will feature many ground-breaking exhibits that will tell the story of the forest - from both historical and modern perspectives, she said.
Hill said as he settles into his job he hopes to be able to work with schools, whether it's leading field trips to the area or going inside schools for environmental education.
"We hope to have school groups come to the center and be willing to take ecological education out to the schools as well," he said.
He plans to build a program around what educators may request.
"The newly hired EES will work with conservation volunteers and conduct Act 48 credit-approved teacher workshops for area educators on a variety of conservation topics," Novak said.
"We don't want to just reach out to the schools; we want to reach out to the general public, too," Hill said.
Organizations, such as Scouts and youth or hiking groups, can contact him to schedule programs. He is considering programs about fishing, kayaking and guided rail trail outings.
"I can put on a tour of the rail trail or even the Pine Creek waterway," he said. "The sky is the limit as far as what we can do."
Weekend programs will start soon, he vowed.
Hill has plans for a small tract of forest behind the center. The newly timber-cut tract is a young section, a regenerating forest.
"I hope to put on a nice half-hour walk in the area and around it," Hill said.
He plans to explain the timbering process, explain what foresters do and show what plants are growing in the new cut.
"It's an interesting section. It's going to be a great teaching laboratory because of the problems like (invasive species), which are all there, and some of the solutions (to them) are all there, too," he said.
Hill has been a hunter and a fisherman all his life, mostly in the Loyalsock State Forest, but he loves the Tiadaghton area, too.
"It really is one of the most beautiful places in Pennsylvania," he said. "As you go up the Pine Creek Valley, you have a diverse ecosystem, wild areas, swamps and a lot of natural areas with unique plants."
The Tiadaghton is a prime example of a cross-section of what forests in Pennsylvania are like.
Another aspect of the job is to explain to the public why the gas-drilling activity is happening on the state forest land.
Hill is a retired teacher. He was employed for 22 years in Williamsport-area high and middle schools.
After retirement, he decided to continue his education and received a master's degree in forest resources.
"The EES job is really the job I wanted because it takes advantage of my teaching background and also it's in the forest, using both things I had (wanted), he said. "It was a dream come true."