Venango Conservation District Welcomes Several New Faces

There are several new faces that have recently joined the Venango Conservation District (VCD). Four positions were filled which grew the team to six full-time employees. Karen Carey, Haley Bechtel, Jake Cochran, and Bailey Kozalla began their new positions early this year. They join the current district manager, Lisette Lane and the agricultural technician, Jane Price.

Karen Carey, a native of California, was welcomed as the district’s new administrative secretary. Karen has been an active community member throughout Venango County for 17 years, serving as former chairman of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce and as former president of the Franklin Retail Association (FRA). She continues to serve as the current treasurer of the FRA.

As the VCD’s new resource conservation technician, Haley Bechtel is prepared to put her environmental studies degree to work as she begins to offer technical assistance to county residents and businesses with environmental permits. Haley graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College in May 2022, where she was active in volunteer programs.

Jake Cochran began his new position at the VCD as the dirt, gravel, and low-volume roads (DGLVR) technician. Jake earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental geoscience from Slippery Rock University in December 2022. He gained field experience during a program at the University of Minnesota, working in the oil and gas industry. While at the VCD, Jake has been meeting with local municipalities and planning projects throughout the county.

Bailey Kozalla was welcomed as the new watershed specialist. Bailey graduated from Allegheny College in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. Before joining the VCD, she gained experience working in the federal, state, and non-profit sectors including the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the Foundation for Sustainable Forests. Since starting at VCD, Bailey has been organizing educational programs and meeting with local watershed groups.

“The new staff have really taken on their duties seriously. They are running on all cylinders with education and outreach at the top of their goals,” said Lisette Lane, District Manager. The district is excited to kick-off the spring and summer seasons with several educational events being offered throughout the area. For more information, visit their website at or find them on Facebook.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s April 2023 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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