– Power of the Partnership Year-End Celebration

About the Event: Join us for the 10th annual celebration of the Partnership’s accomplishments, and to preview what’s to come in 2021. Learn more about the Partnership and our work, find out how you can engage with the Partnership, and meet a diverse group of individuals and organizations that are making a difference. Join us in conversation and action as we strive to build a sustainable future for this landscape that we call home! Anyone involved in making the South Mountain region a better place to live, work, and play is welcome to attend. Join more than 100 of the region’s top conservation, planning, recreation, tourism, government, education, and revitalization leaders in this celebration.

Sponsored by 



January 29, 2021 from 8:30 am -10:00 am

Optional informal virtual networking will begin at 8:00
Free, virtual event; registration required



8:00  Meet & Greet/Networking (optional)


8:30  Welcome and Opening Remarks 

Secretary Cindy Dunn, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Commissioner Vince DiFilippo, Cumberland County Government


Profiles of Action Panel

On this 10th anniversary of celebrating the work of our Partners and programs, new and old faces will join us to discuss the evolution of the South Mountain Partnership, the need for preserving and promoting this landscape, why the diverse work of our Partners and programs matter, and the value that Landscape Conservation brings to the region.

Deputy Secretary Lauren Imgrund, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

            Dennis Shaffer, Director of Landscape Conservation, Appalachian Trail Conservancy

            Jon Peterson, Catalyst Fund Manager, Network for Landscape Conservation

            Janet Pollard, Director of the Franklin County Visitors Bureau

Antonia Price, Program Manager of the Center for Land Use and Sustainability, Shippensburg University


2021 Plans and Accomplishments in 2020

We have much to celebrate and look forward to! Reconnect with the Partnership to understand our 2020 work. Then, in with the new as we share our intentions for 2021.


2020 Mini-Grant Awards

Hear about the exciting projects that partners are undertaking in 2021 as recipients of South Mountain Mini- Grants.


Spirit of South Mountain Award

This meaningful award recognizes individuals, projects or organizations that have gone above-and-beyond to make significant contributions to advancing a positive future for the South Mountain landscape.


10:00 End



Thank you to sponsors of the 10th Annual “Power of the Partnership” Celebration! Investing in the South Mountain landscape benefits us all. We could not accomplish our goals without the support of generous partners. Sponsor us!



Last Year’s Event: the 9th Annual Celebration

On January 31, 2020, more than 120 people gathered at Liberty Mountain Ski Resort in Fairfield, PA to celebrate the South Mountain landscape and the work of its partners to invest in a sustainable, healthy future for our communities and citizens. At the meeting, attendees found out the recipient of the Spirit of South Mountain award, heard from Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Secretary Russell Redding of the Department of Agriculture, and learned about several “Profiles of Action: Partners Working across the South Mountain Landscape”. This included a presentation from Harlan Lawson of the Adams County Office of Planning & Development and Robin Fitzpatrick of the Adams Economic Alliance, who discussed various locations in Adams County that add to the economic health and vibrancy of the region. Natalie Buyny of Destination Gettysburg followed with demographic information on who visits the region and how her organization is working to attract more young families and Millennials. The profiles concluded with a presentation from Sarah Kipp of the Land Conservancy of Adams County who shared an update on a previous South Mountain mini grant project that will take people on a hike through conserved farmland.

2019 South Mountain Mini-Grant Awardees

Andy Yencha from Penn State Extension and a member of the South Mountain Partnership mini-grant review committee kicked off the awards. The purpose of these grants is “to stimulate on-the-ground projects to sustain the South Mountain region’s sense of place through the protection, enhancement, or promotion of the area’s natural, cultural, recreational, or economic resources. The grant program was launched in 2009, developed by South Mountain Partnership, and administered with help from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. In the last 11 years, over 65 projects have been completed through the Program – just over $490,000 in grants have been awarded; leveraging more than $1,000,000 in matching funds. The South Mountain Mini-Grant program is funded via the Commonwealth’s special funds, known as the Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, which are part of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program.

• $15,000 to the Appalachian Trail Museum, for the 3-D Relief Map, Wild East, and Landscape Conservation Exhibit project at the Appalachian Trail Museum near Gardners; accepted today by Larry Luxenberg and Gwen Loose, on behalf of the Appalachian Trail Museum and project partners at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

• $5,000 to the Friends of Toms Creek, to conduct field stream assessments of Toms Run Creek near Fairfield; accepted today by Sue deVeer, on behalf of Friends of Toms Creek and project partners at Upper Potomac River Keeper and Sierra Club.

• $8,000 to the Keystone Conservation Trust, in coordination with Penn Township, Cumberland County for the Penn Township Return on Environment Land Use Study project that will assist Penn Township in exploring how the Return on Environment Report can help to establish self-determined land-use planning and development goals; accepted today by Tom West on behalf of Keystone Conservation Trust and Gary Martin on behalf of Penn Township, and project partners at PA Audubon.

• $12,000 to North Newton Township, for a trail feasibility study what will provide safe bicycle and pedestrian access between the Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail and the North Newton Township Park near Newville; accepted by Bonnie Myers, on behalf of North Newtown Township.

• $2,000 to the Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society, to implement a self-guided tour of the Dill’s Tavern Property and downtown Dillsburg for educational and tourism purposes, promoting the natural, agrarian, and downtown resources in Dillsburg; accepted by Sam McKinney, on behalf of the Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society.

• $6,000 to South Middleton Township, to address water quality concerns affecting the Yellow Breeches Creek by retrofitting a township bioretention swale near Boiling Springs. The project will earn credit under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, MS4, program; accepted by Kelley Kurtas, on behalf of South Middleton Township.

• $7,000 to Stawberry Hill Foundation, for implementation of a conservation plan that will restore Middle Creek, interpretive panels, and design and build of boardwalks and platforms for creek access and education near Fairfield; accepted by Karra Ferraro (FUR-OUR-OH), on behalf of the Strawberry Hill Foundation.

Past ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award Winners:

The 8th ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award was presented to Tonya White, of the Historic Round Barn & Farm Market and Thirsty Farmer Brew Works, for championing the creation of the South Mountain Conservation Landscape (South Mountain Partnership) in 2007. Tonya’s advocacy on behalf of this region led to alignment of and action around farm and open space protection, historic preservation, and expansion into new markets of tourism, agriculture, land protection, stewardship, recreation, heritage, and agricultural tourism.

The 7th ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award was presented to Karen Lutz, retired Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). Karen joined the staff of ATC in 1988 after volunteering and being a founding member of the Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club.

The 6th ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award was presented to the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail Coalition in recognition their work that reflects the Partnership’s mission to collaboratively preserve and promote the landscape resources which make the South Mountain landscape unique and special, including a massive infrastructure project in Newville that installed one bridge and one underpass to address safety issues and open the trail to the east, one mile of trail was built at the Carlisle terminus, and an additional bridge was installed to connect the trail to downtown Shippensburg via Shippensburg University.

The 5th ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award was awarded to Franklin County Commissioners and Greene Township Supervisors, in cooperation with the Eagle Rock Project, led by The Conservation Fund, which worked to conserve over 1,100 acres of land in Greene Township.

The 4th ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award in 2014 (no award was given in 2013) was awarded to two organizations – the Land Conservancy of Adams County and the Conococheague Creek Trout Habitat Enhancement project. The Conservancy was selected due to its significant contribution to land conservation in 2014: seven conservation easements covering more than 1,060 acres of land. The Creek Project was selected for helping to sustaining the South Mountain landscape’s clean, high-quality streams and drinking water.

The 3rd ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award was presented in 2012 to the South Mountain Speakers Series Steering Committee for their tireless commitment to developing and implementing a series of free public presentations that showcase the special people, features, and events of the South Mountain region.

The 2nd ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award was given to Middlesex Township for the Trindle Road A.T. Trailhead project in 2011.

The 1st ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ Award was given to the Pine Grove Furnace State Park team for their outstanding partnership activities that directly support the vision of the South Mountain Partnership, including promotion of local agriculture, cultural heritage, natural resources, recreational opportunities, and business opportunities for over 500,000 visitors.