2018-02-01 / Spotlight

Time to Play

with Pam Salokangas, Director of CRPR

Since August 2016 when she became director of Centre Region Parks and Recreation, Pam Salokangas has been working toward this month’s milestone, when a newly rebranded CRPR unveils its newly designed website.

Located at the same url (, the site is a completely updated version of its former self and includes a brand-new calendar that links directly to registration pages for events, as well as a comprehensive and user-friendly map of all the region’s parks.

“We manage about 56 park sites, and have another 15 to 20 sites that are on the map on the website, with photos of each,” she says. “It’s very colorful — we’re bringing all the colors from the logo into the map.”

Before returning to her Penn State roots, where she earned a degree in Recreation and Park Management in 1995, Salokangas held jobs in the outdoors and recreation sector in Virginia and Massachusetts.

She stopped into the State College Magazine office recently to share with us some of her favorite things, most of which, unsurprisingly, take her outdoors.

Serve’s Up
“I’m self-taught at tennis. Basically I started playing as an adult when I started getting my first jobs in parks and rec, running leagues and just getting out and playing with people. I took a few lessons, but I just love to play. Now that I’m a little older, I play doubles mostly.”

“I just got my first SLR camera. I bought it used from Lion Surplus. Now I’m entering photos in photo contests; I had my first photo in the Arts Fest last year in the images competition. It was a black and white of the Air Force memorial in Washington D.C., and it was purchased! But I mostly do nature, and super, super macro close-up shots. I love texture shots. Photography is like therapy for me; you’re checked out and totally focused.”

Cache and Check
“Geocaching started in 2000 when they released the satellites. I started in 2001 here in State College when I was back here working for Parks and Rec briefly. My main goal right now with caching is I cache on vacation so my goal is to fill in my United States map with a cache in every state. I’m probably about a third done. And I’ve done caches in Europe, South America and the Caribbean.”

Branching Out
“I’m very deep into genealogy right now, mostly on It’s very interesting, just finding out where I’m from. Growing up, I thought our family was so small. … But we had family growing up all around us and I just never knew it.  I watch ‘Finding Your Roots’ on PBS, and it’s just fascinating.”

Adventure Time
“I’ve been in the public sector most of my career, but for the last 2.5 years before this job, I was up in Cape Cod working at an aerial adventure park. It was a great experience; our office was in a yurt in the woods.”

Travel Bug
“With travel bugs, your job as a geocacher is to move it to its next destination. I did this Penn State travel bug many years ago. I launched it in Alaska, and it took two and a half years to make it back to Pennsylvania. It’s traveled 17,000 miles back and forth across the United States.”

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