Michael Dinsmore has turned his love of the outdoors into a career with the Bureau of State Parks. The Dagus Mines native was recently named the manager of Little Pine State Park Complex, based in Lycoming County.
"I pursued this field because of a desire to work in the outdoors, but the personal rewards mostly come from the people involved. Being able to help people directly, assisting an injured person or finding a lost hiker brings a great sense of satisfaction," Dinsmore said. "It is also very rewarding seeing (less directly) all the people whose lives are better because of state park staff. That betterment can be in the form of the lifelong love for nature brought about by the programming of our environmental education specialists, the rescue or assistance of someone in need by a ranger, the facility built or maintained by our maintenance staff that will serve for generations, or any number of ways.
"We are here to serve the people."
The Little Pine State Park Complex is located in the Tiadaghton State Forest and offers overnight camping facilities and year-round recreational activities. The 2,158-acre park has many things to do to delight outdoor enthusiasts, including camping, hiking and fishing. The park complex includes Little Pine, Hyner Run, Hyner View and Upper Pine Bottom State Parks in Lycoming and Clinton counties. Dinsmore said he enjoys the day-to-day variety and the many roles he assumes as manager.
"Being a park manager is a very diverse and challenging job. In a big-picture sense it means that you are responsible for ensuring that park staff is meeting our mission of providing the public with opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and serving as outdoor classrooms for environmental education and managing to ensure that these special places meet these goals for all future generations as well," Dinsmore said. "From day to day, it demands knowledge in topics ranging from facilities management, knowledge of ecological processes, operation of facilities such as sewage treatment plants and pools, and law enforcement, to name a few, but most importantly, people skills.
"Public parks and forests at all levels belong to the people, and we are here to make sure that our visitors have a positive experience when they visit."
Dinsmore has been employed by the Bureau of State Parks since 2003, and his new title of manager may be viewed as a natural transition based on his previous experience. He previously worked as a park ranger at Reeds Gap State Park Complex, based in Mifflin County, then as a ranger within the Reeds Gap State Park Complex and also the Parker Dam State Park Complex in Clearfield County. In 2007, he became a park manager trainee in the Bureau of State Parks' central office in Harrisburg, working in the Park Operations and Training section. In 2009, he became the assistant manager at Hickory Run State Park Complex in Luzerne and Carbon counties and served there until his recent promotion. In 2006, he also served as a park ranger at the Rifle Gap State Park Complex in Colorado.
"Each of my 'posts' has brought the rewards of learning a new corner of our world, as well as getting to know a new group of people and learning from their perspectives," Dinsmore said.
He said while his different posts have been rewarding, his new position as manager is something he has been looking forward to.
“I am very excited to work with the outstanding park staff, neighboring agencies and the active community members that make these state parks and their surroundings such a special place,” Dinsmore said. “The plethora of recreational opportunities provided by Little Pine, Hyner Run, Hyner View and Upper Pine Bottom -- as well as the wealth of surrounding state forests and game lands -- make this area not only a beautiful place to visit, but a wonderful place to raise a family.”
Dinsmore has been married to his wife, Carli, for five years, and they have two daughters, Kyla, 5, and Makell, 3. He is the son of Patrick Dinsmore of Toby and Debbie McDonnell, who lives in Weedville with her husband Marty. He has two siblings: a brother, Dusty, who lives in Toby with his wife, Danielle, and their daughters, Daelynn, 2, and Addison, 10 months; and a sister, Bobbi Jo Gorske, who lives in Johnsonburg with her husband, Scott, and their daughter Madelynn. His paternal grandmother is Nancy Dinsmore of Kersey and his maternal grandparents are Charles and June Hullihen of St. Marys.
The 2002 graduate of St. Marys Area High School attended Pennsylvania ACT 120 Municipal Police Officers training at IUP and graduated in 2003. He then began working for the Bureau of State Parks as a DCNR Ranger in 2003, transferred to Parker Dam in 2004 and started attending Penn State DuBois that fall.
"I received an Associate’s Degree in Wildlife Technology from Penn State in 2006, then spent that summer at Rifle Gap State Park Complex in Colorado working as a ranger with Carli," Dinsmore said.
Dinsmore said his family has always been "outdoor-oriented."
"My father always took us to the woods hunting and fishing from an early age, and I remember going camping at Parker Dam with my mother and aunt, as well as taking long walks in the woods with my grandparents," he said. "I was in Boy Scout Troop 94 of Kersey for a number of years and participated in many fun and educational experiences through that organization. I’m sure that this early exposure to the outdoors greatly influenced my desire to pursue a career with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources."
Not only does Dinsmore enjoy the outdoors in his work, but it is also a big part of what he likes to do outside of the job. He likes to go hunting, especially at deer camp with the Sherry clan of St. Marys, bear camp at Hickory Run and Flintlock camp with his DCNR friends; biking along Rails to Trails with his family; and camping at various state parks and forests. He also enjoys trail running.
"I am a proud 2012 finisher of the Hyner View Trail Challenge and now the manager of the park that is its namesake," Dinsmore said.
He also likes to do woodworking when he has time and plans to do a lot more canoeing now that the Pine Creek is nearby.
"Anything that is outdoors and active, I’ll give a try," Dinsmore said.
Dinsmore said he and his family return to the area for a weekend visit every other month, more frequently during hunting season but less during the summer, as that is his busiest time at work.
"There are a lot of nice people in this part of the state, a lot of hardworking people that are very self-reliant and will give you the shirt off their back -- I really appreciate that," Dinsmore said. "Also, the beautiful surroundings and opportunities for fun and recreation are everywhere. Some people who are used to more urban areas will say, 'What is there to do?' but you’re only limited by your ambition and imagination -- it’s all here."