“I’m here for the long haul.” – Owen Worozbyt
For a stretch of about three years, after graduating from East Stroudsburg University, Owen Worozbyt made his living as a Ranger with the National Parks Service. Sure, he got paid to climb up and down the Great Smoky Mountains. Then, he hiked along Acadia’s gorgeous, wind-whipped sea cliffs. He even spent a bit of time at Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks, teaching park guests how to fish. I know… sad story.
But the gorgeous vistas and the sandy beach just weren’t enough to keep this outdoorsy Dunmore native. He made his way back to NEPA, married his sweetheart and landed a gig that still keeps him outdoors. For this Trail and Environmental Projects Manager at Lackawanna Heritage Valley, NEPA’s got it all and then some. Owen, his lovely wife, their two boys and the family dog somehow always find themselves on bike paths, trails and whitewater all over this region.
We happened to catch him on a sunny day on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. And, we just had to ask… Why NEPA?
How long have you lived in NEPA?
Let’s see… I’m 34. I guess we can count college. I went to college in East Stroudsburg. So, I didn’t go far away, but I’ve lived in Dunmore for, I’d say, 29 years.
What brought you back to NEPA?
Ultimately, what brought me back was my fiance’ – who’s now my wife. We were getting married and we planned on staying here in Northeast PA. And, that’s kind of how it all went and why I’m still here.
What did you miss most about NEPA?
Family. Yeah mostly family and friends. Obviously, I’ve lived here most of my life. My friends and family weren’t coming all the way up to Maine to see me all the time. So, yeah… family and friends. And fishing. Back then, I was really big into fishing. We were always doing a lot of fishing around here. Oh, and of course, pizza… Definitely missed the food. Pizza, pierogies and kielbasa – you don’t get that everywhere. And, nobody makes pizza as good as we do here. I mean, every place I’ve been, it was awful (laughs). I will give them BBQ. They do have pretty good BBQ in the south.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?
I love kayaking and I love biking. Yesterday, myself and a group of guys went kayaking down Tunkhannock Creek. We started up by Factoryville and we ended up in Tunkhannock. It was a blast. I also do a lot of road biking and mountain biking and the terrain around here is awesome. So, outdoor recreation activities – that’s mainly my thing. I also get out and do a lot of biking on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and at the Eales Preserve on Moosic Mountain. We’ve also been getting out to all of the state parks with the boys and doing a lot of hiking.
What’s next for you?
Well, I don’t have any plans to leave Northeastern PA. I’m here for the long haul. Really, I just plan on continuing to bike and run until my knees don’t work. And, after that, I’ll just kayak (laughs). No… We’re staying put here. All of my family is here. All of my wife’s family is here. Our boys are growing up. We’re not going anywhere. That’s the long-term goal.
Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?
Well, based on my observations over the last three months, because, you know, it’s been a lot different, I have never seen more people out biking, running, walking, hiking. And I think that a lot of people are going to look at this time and remember the one thing that they had was recreation. And, even based on yesterday when we were out on the river, I couldn’t believe how many people we saw on kayaks and canoes. I’m hoping that people here realize what great assets we have when it comes to our natural resources. And, I think in the future, we’re going to see a lot of people staying here, or even coming here from someplace else because of what we have. What we’re hoping for in NEPA’s future is for people to take better inventory of the natural resources that we have here. And I think that’s going to continue to get people out and get them more active. As a result, I think we’re going to have a much healthier community 10, 15, 20 years down the road.
Well, I guess we pretty much covered it all. I love the food. I love the people. My family is here. And, I love all of the amazing things that we can do here. Not that they don’t have much of that in other places, but it’s the perfect mix of everything here for me.