“It was really nice to be a part of a community where people had roots.”
Even though the desert has its fair share of beauty, Janet Sweeney couldn’t help but miss the rolling green mountains, tranquil waters and brilliant fall foliage of the Northeast. Originally from upstate New York, she spent five years in Tucson, Arizona, before moving back East. She settled in Clarks Summit, where she could be closer to her family and take advantage of the area’s endless hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing opportunities.
Janet currently serves as the Vice President of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and Director of their Northeast Office. She works alongside local trail groups, state parks and forests, land trusts and other public and private organizations to protect NEPA’s natural resources.
We caught up with Janet to learn more about her work with PEC and chat about all that NEPA’s great outdoors has to offer.
How long have you lived in NEPA?
What brought you to NEPA?
My husband and I lived in Arizona for about five years. Not that it isn’t beautiful there—we love it there—but we wanted to come back to the Northeast to be closer to family in upstate New York. Plus, we kind of missed the four seasons. We were looking to move, and my husband had an interview at the University of Scranton and ended up getting the job, so we moved back up here.
Did anything surprise you about NEPA?
The people that we met originally had lived here all their lives, so that was really neat. Even if they moved away, a lot of times they came back, and they’re raising their families here. It was really nice to be a part of a community where people had roots. I feel like we might have moved around a lot and landed in a place where people had made their homes for many generations. I feel a part of that now.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?
At this moment in time, I have two favorites. Lucky for me, a two-minute walk gets me to Countryside Conservancy’s Trolley Trail. I’ve been walking on the Trolley Trail pretty much every day since I’ve been working at home. It’s just such a fabulous resource to have. I don’t have to get in my car— I can just walk down my street. It’s a six-mile walk round-trip for me. It’s really well-maintained, and it’s just a nice break. Another favorite is the Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve. That’s a really beautiful, beautiful spot. We like to go up there. There are so many different trails. I swear, every time we go up there, I get lost.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to keep working, keep plugging away. I have an awesome job. I get to work with a lot of people in the area who are building trails and preserving land. There are so many different places to hike and bike and kayak, so I see myself continuing to do this work as long as I can. And then after I retire, probably still volunteering with the groups that are doing all of this work. My husband is a big cyclist, so we’ll probably do some bicycling trips too.
Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?
I think working with a lot of different organizations like the planning commissions and the Diamond City Partnership in Wilkes-Barre and with consultants and the heritage areas, everybody is working to provide these resources. They’re working to promote Northeastern Pennsylvania, to provide trails, to help people who don’t have cars, to provide safe bicycling—not only for recreation but for jobs and for shopping. There’s a lot of different organizations that are working every day to improve the quality of life in this area, and I think it shows.
I’m so lucky to work with the people that I work with: the trail managers, the state parks, the state forests, the land trusts and preserves. It’s great to be a part of a community that is working for the quality of life and the environment. I feel very lucky that I have wonderful friends that we’ve made in the community. It’s my home. My kids were raised here. It’s just a great place to live.
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
PEC is a statewide nonprofit that works with public and private partners to protect and restore the environment. This year marks their 50th anniversary of advocating for sound, responsible environmental policy. Visit their website to learn more about their current projects and how you can join their mission.