Photo by Noah Shatzer

Past Events

The South Mountain Partnership launched the annual South Mountain Speakers Series in 2010. Since then, the Partnership has hosted four to seven lectures a year as part of its Speakers series. We are always on the lookout for potential future topics – nominate an event or topic for inclusion in a future season of the South Mountain Speakers Series here.

2019 Season

Creating the Appalachian Trail in the South

Date: March 16, 2019

Location: Pine Grove Furnace Ironmasters House
Time: 3:00 pm

In coordination with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. Tom Johnson of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club will talk about how in the 1920s, the mountains south of the Potomac River invited hikers to explore. Led by the dynamic Myron Avery of Washington, D.C., a small group of enthusiasts created the Appalachian Trail in just a few years. During this presentation you will “meet” this remarkable group and follow them as they lay out a new trail in the South. Begins at 3:00 pm.

Barn Survey Volunteer Training

Date: March 23, 2019

Location: Apple Museum in Biglerville
Time: 8:30 am

In coordination with the Preservation Society of Historic Gettysburg-Adams County (HGAC). Over the past fifteen years, HGAC has added more than 300 barns to the Adams County Barn Registry as a primary component of its Barn Preservation Project. HGAC Barn Preservation Specialist David Maclay will talk about various facets of barn preservation for both novice and seasoned surveyors alike. Following the presentations, participants will venture into the field, fanning out into the countryside to document local barns in a hands-on, fun-filled exploration into the rich diversity of Adams County’s agricultural and architectural legacy. Participation is free of charge and includes breakfast, but advance registration is required by March 20 by contacting David Maclay at 717-677-4000 or Begins at 8:30 am.

Charcoal Hearths, Collier Huts, and Haul Roads

Date: April 16, 2019

Location: ATS Auditorium at Dickinson College, Carlisle
Time: 7:00 pm

In conjunction with the Friends of Pine Grove Furnace. Andre Weltman, chairman of the Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, will discuss the connection between the 19th century charcoal iron industry and today’s South Mountain landscape. Modern trails and campsites often overlap with still-visible remnants of an important part of iron making: transforming the forests into charcoal fuel for the region’s iron furnaces. Begins at 7:00 pm.

Pollinators and their Habitat

Date: May 8, 2019

Location: Messiah College - Boyer Hall room 131
Time: 6:00 pm

In conjunction with Messiah College. Join Messiah's Director of Sustainability, Brandon Hoover, as he discusses the importance of pollinators, the local honey industry, and the role Messiah is taking to promote pollinators. Begins at 6:00 pm.

Appreciating the PA Local Craft Brew Industry

Date: June 11, 2019

Location: Appalachian Brewing Company, Shippensburg
Time: 6:30 pm

In conjunction with Shippensburg University. Dr. Alison Feeney, professor of geography and earth science at Shippensburg University, released a new book in 2018, For the Love of Beer. The book examines Pennsylvania's brewing history, geography and cultural richness while highlighting more than 100 of the state's thriving craft breweries. Come learn firsthand from Dr. Feeney about what makes PA, including the South Mountain region, so great for the craft brewing industry. Begins at 6:30 pm.

Methods for Combatting Illegal Dumping and Vandalism in a Forest Setting

Date: September 12, 2019

Location: Caledonia State Park (Park Office Conference Room)
Time: 6:30 pm

In conjunction with DCNR and Keep PA Beautiful. Discover ways to fight illegal dumping and vandalism in a forest setting with a joint presentation by Michaux State Forest Ranger Todd Ottinger and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Program Coordinator Rob Dubas. Technical, social, cultural and financial aspects of the problem will be explored. Begins at 6:30 pm in the conference room of Caledonia State Park's park office (101 Pine Grove Road, Fayetteville).

2018 Season

Unknown Founders: Women Who Built the Appalachian Trail

Date: May 31, 2018

Location: Gardners - Appalachian Trail Museum; 6:30pm

In coordination with the Appalachian Trail Museum. While Benton MacKaye and Myron Avery are widely recognized as the “founding fathers” of the Appalachain Trail, the women who contributed to the Trail project are mostly unknown – until now. Three women – Jean Stephenson, Ruth Blackburn and Margaret Drummond – will join the ranks of MacKaye and Avery as A.T. “giants” who carried their vision and work forward to preserve the trail we all know and love today. Presentation by Gwen Loose, Vice-President of the Appalachian Trail Museum.

Save the Bounty of our Counties: Preserving Produce with the Gleaning Project of South Central PA

Date: August 16, 2018

Location: Gettysburg - Adams County Arts Council; 6:00pm

In collaboration with the Gleaning Project of South Central PA. Help The Gleaning Project process and preserve excess produce gleaned from local farms. Keep your hands busy while learning about the work this non-profit collaborative community solution is doing in South Central PA to reduce food loss on farms and improve regional food security. All preserved produce will be distributed to food insecure community members through our South Central Community Action Programs Produce Stand.

Twilight of the Hemlocks and Beeches: Inspiring Photographs & Writings of Tim Palmer

Date: September 17, 2018

Location: Orndorff Theatre, Ceddia Union Building (CUB), Shippensburg University; 7:00pm

Join award winning author and photographer Tim Palmer who will present a slide show based on his 2018 book, Twilight of the Hemlocks and Beeches, published by Penn State University Press. With stunning photographs taken throughout the range of the Eastern Hemlock and American Beech, the author shows the irreplaceable beauty of these magnificent trees, and he explains the invasion of exotic insects and pathogens that are tragically decimating one of the most beloved forest types in eastern America. Still hopeful, Palmer writes, “The efforts to protect and restore these forests provide guidance, motivation, and inspiration to better care for our forests everywhere.” This program is part of a partnership between South Mountain Partnership and Shippensburg University.

The Cradle of Conservation: Hike at the Historic Pennsylvania State Forest Academy

Date: September 29, 2018

Location: Mont Alto - Penn State Mont Alto; 10:00am
Time: 10:00 am

Perhaps the most historic of the Commonwealth's campuses, the Mont Alto Forestry Academy, now known as Penn State Mont Alto, has been a leader of the sustainability movement by educating the nation's first foresters who would later crusade for improving the barren hills caused by charcoal production timbering, timber logging, and forest fires. From 1870 to 1900, Pennsylvania led the nation in timber logging, leading to erosion, flooding, and wild fires which greatly limited the forest's ability to regenerate itself. "Founded to save the trees," Penn State Mont Alto was the second forestry academy established in the nation and was founded by the Father of Forestry, Joseph T. Rothrock, as a response to traditional logging practices that has turned millions of acres across the state into unproductive barrens. Join Craig Houghton, Professor of Forestry and Forestry Program Coordinator, on an easy hike through campus to learn how this campus helped to save Pennsylvania's trees and forests. In collaboration with Penn State Mont Alto.

The Economic Value of Protected Open Space: Cumberland County's Return on Environment Report

Date: October 2, 2018

Location: Cumberland County Planning Department, 310 Allen Road,Carlisle; 6:30pm
Time: 6:30 pm

The Cumberland County Return on Environment report, compiled by the Kittatinny Coalition, demonstrates how open space is greatly contributing to the health of the local economy, as well as to a lower cost of living and improved quality of life for citizens. In coordination with Cumberland County Planning, Audubon Pennsylvania, and the Kittatinny Ridge Coalition.

2017 Season

South Mountain to Your Glass: Preserving and Improving our Drinking Water Quality

Date: April 20, 2017

Location: Mont Alto, Penn State Mont Alto at 7:00pm
Time: 7:00 pm

This lecture event,  "From South Mountain to Your Glass: Preserving and Improving Our Water Supply" will feature DCNR Stream Ecologist Nate Reagle and Dickinson College Environmental Studies Professor Dr. Kristin Strock. The current health of South Mountain streams, as well as the Conococheague Creek restoration project, a successful stream restoration project accomplished by the region's collective Trout Unlimited Chapters, will be highlighted.  

HGAC's Barn Preservation Project: a Model for Local Efforts Throughout the Commonwealth

Date: August 15, 2017

Location: GAR Hall, 53 E Middle St, Gettysburg, PA 17325 at 7:30pm
Time: 7:30 pm

In collaboration with Historic Gettysburg Adams County. Doors open at 7:00pm - Refreshments provided. Over the past fi fteen years, Historic Gettysburg-Adams County’s Barn Preservation Project has become a flagship of the organization, reinforcing its relevance as a preservation society that is actively engaged in the community. As part of the HGAC Educational Speaker Program, and in collaboration with South Mountain Partnership’s Speakers Series, HGAC’s Barn Preservation Specialist David Maclay will provide information about the project in a wide ranging presentation. Maclay will touch upon his experiences as a timber framer and restoration carpenter, and as a member of HGAC’s volunteer-driven eff ort to preserve these iconic structures. Geared towards barn enthusiasts and preservationists throughout the South Mountain region and beyond, the presentation will outline the components essential to a successful barn preservation effort -- committed volunteers with diverse areas of expertise; varied, engaging educational and outreach programs; corporate and private sponsorships; grant proposal development; and a documentation regime based on nearly 300 surveys of Adams County barns. The logistics and details of the survey itself, the resulting Adams County Barn Registry, and the myriad expressions of barn design throughout our rural landscape will be explored in an evening that is all about barns!

Letort Headwaters Tour: Walking Tour of the Historic Watercress Farm

Date: May 12, 2017

Location: Carlisle - Headwaters Property (985 South Spring Garden Street, Carlisle) at 6:00pm
Time: 6:00 pm


Within the Cumberland Valley lay some of the world’s most popular fl y fishing spring-fed creeks - Letort, Falling Springs, Yellow Breeches, plus more! Thanks to the natural bounty and cultural history of the Cumberland Valley, the Letort Spring Run is perhaps one of the most historic trout streams. Local communities like Carlisle were established here because the Letort Spring Run provided them with what was needed to survive and prosper. Now known almost exclusively for worldclass fly fishing, the communities’ historic reliance on the Letort Spring Run has been largely forgotten.
Join us for a walking tour to learn about this unique property’s many layers of value - the layers of historic and cultural, agricultural, ecological, and recreational qualities while also learning more about Central Pennsylvania Conservancy’s work to purchase, restore, and preserve this natural mecca of consistent, cool water that hosts remarkable vegetation, insects, and fish populations.
Optional: Stay with us after the tour for dinner - bring $10 for a wood fi red oven-artisan pizza!   Tour begins at 6:00pm - Wear pants and sneakers or hiking boots Tour will last approximately 45 minutes; restroom available   In collaboration with Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, Cumberland County Historical Society, and Letort Regional Authority.   DIRECTIONS: From I-81 Exit 47/47A: Take R34/South Hanover St/Holly Pike south approximately 0.7miles and make a left onto Bonnybrook Rd at Highlands' Tire and Service. Pass 0.8miles over a stone arch bridge on the west branch Letort and up the hill. Take a left onto S Spring Garden St. Proceed 0.6 miles, passing part of the old watercress farm on the left, then make a left onto a grass lane. Look for tour signage. From Carlisle Giant: Proceed South on S Spring Garden St. From the intersection with Union Quarries in approximately 1.2miles, continue 0.2 miles to a grass lane on the right. Look for tour signage. Google maps link to hyperlink the 985 S. Spring Garden St. address:''/985+S+Spring+Garden+St,+Carlisle,+PA+17015/@40.1781781,-77.1820055,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c8e1e8b248616f:0x9f6c57899d700c4d!2m2!1d-77.1798167!2d40.178174!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c8e1e8b248616f:0x9f6c57899d700c4d!2m2!1d-77.179817!2d40.178174?hl=en

The Froelicher Legacy: Preserving a Watershed Landscape for Environmental Education in Adams County

Date: September 28, 2017

Location: Gettysburg - Harrisburg Area Community College Campus at 7:00pm
Time: 7:00 pm

Strawberry Hill Foundation was founded in 1986 by Frances Morton Froelicher. Mrs. Froelicher began the foundation to support her husband’s efforts to clean-up and protect the Swamp Creek Watershed. In the early 1960s, the Froelichers began purchasing properties in Hamiltonban Township, stitching together various tracts of land to create the 519-acre core of Strawberry Hill. As the founder and executive director of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association of Baltimore, MD from 1945-69, Mrs. Froelicher believed that work done with a small professional staff , a large number of volunteers and a great deal of enthusiasm, that Strawberry Hill could establish itself as a valuable asset to the Adams County community. Today, Strawberry Hill protects numerous wetlands, vernal pools, and two ‘exceptional value’ stream corridors, and the cultural heritage of Swamp Creek, Middle Creek, and Mount Hope. The Preserve provides recreational opportunities to Adams County residents through a variety of cultural and environmental programs and by maintaining ten miles of trails that are open to the public for hiking. This event will present a refl ection on the fi rst 50 years of the two-part mission that has created this exceptional value watershed to be placed in the public trust in perpetuity. Come to learn how Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve has stayed true to its mission of protecting the Swamp Creek Watershed and connecting the South Mountain landscape region with the natural world through environmental education and land stewardship. In collaboration with Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve.

Farm Fields to Warehouses: Economic Development Along the I-81 Corridor

Date: October 5, 2017

Location: Renfew Institute - 1010 E Main St, Waynesboro, PA 17268 at 7:00pm
Time: 7:00 pm

The nation’s love of buying products online creates the need for warehouses along I-81, the main truck route to the northeast. An additional 8 million square feet of distribution warehousing space is anticipated soon for Franklin County, adding an estimated 1,600 daily truck trips to I-81. While the I-81 corridor presents the opportunity to grow, and the Transportation & Warehousing Industry has a valued place in the economic development strategy of southcentral Pennsylvania, many residents feel that it disproportionately degrades our quality of life when compared to other key industries. Many local residents are concerned with the increased traffic, loss of prime agricultural soil, low air quality, and the temporary and moderate-to-low paying jobs associated with the current Transportation & Warehousing Industry. Because the industry is so visible on the landscape, removes prime agricultural soils from production, and impacts local residents in daily activities, it is critical to manage future growth so as to maintain our high quality of life for which the South Mountain landscape region is known. Dr. George Pomeroy, Professor and Associate Director of Shippensburg University’s Center for Land Use and Sustainability, will present information necessary for our communities to understand why our area is a leader in the Transportation & Warehousing Industry, its sustainability, and its future outlook, as well as the aff ect of the industry on our resident’s quality of life, associated land use issues, and viable planning solutions. Dr. Pomeroy co-authored the 2008 report, “Economic and Transportation Impact of Warehousing on Rural Pennsylvania,” that explored in depth the impact of warehouses and the concurrent increase in trucking on employment, lifestyle, and the economy in rural Pennsylvania counties. In collaboration with Renfew Institute and the Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University.

2016 Season


Date: June 30, 2016

Location: Cumberland County Historical Society, 21 N Pitt St, Carlisle, PA 17013
Time: 6:00 pm

June 30, 2016 6:00pm Cumberland County Historical Society, 21 N Pitt St, Carlisle, PA 17013   In conjunction with the Cumberland County Historical Society and the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy.   The Letort Spring Run is responsible for the initial development patterns of Carilse and though the communities' reliance on the spring run and its history have been largely forgotten, the legacy is still strong and fascinating. Historian and Letort Spring Run land owner, Lorraine Luciano, will give a discuss the interesting cultural legacy of the Letort Spring Run. Candie Wilderman, founder of the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring at Dickinson College,  will discuss the environmental legacy and monitoring data collected from the Letort over the last several decades. This will be a unique opportunity to learn about the Letort - as a natural resource, recreational resource, and cultural resource!   This event is named after The LETORT: A Limestone Legacy, the book commissioned by the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy to support the purchase and preservation of the Letort Headwaters property. CPC intends to secure and restore the Upper Letort Spring Run watershed while allowing access and education about the value of limestone streams, wetlands, and the regional history. By restoring the natural wetlands, stream channels, aquatic vegetation, historic structures, and removing invasive species, we aim to reverse the damage caused by years of commercial agricultural use and surrounding urban growth and development.   The site of the east branch of the Letort headwaters is:

  • A former commercial watercress farm that began production in 1880 and is spring fed by the headwaters of the Letort
  • Bisected by the Letort Nature Trail, managed by the Letort Regional Authority
  • Designated as an Exceptional Value Waterway (EV) by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and as a Class A Wild Trout Stream by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  • Named in the PA Wild and Scenic Rivers legislation as an outstanding natural waterway
  • Listed as a locally significant site in the Natural Areas Inventory (NAI) of Cumberland County
  • Part of a Scenic River District adopted by a local ordinance of South Middleton Township


Date: September 15, 2016

Location: 4 E 1st Street, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
Time: 6:00 pm

Thursday, September 15 6:00pm Appalachian Trail Conservancy at Children's Lake Park, Boiling Springs 4 E 1st St, Boiling Springs, PA 17007   In collaboration with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Mid-Atlantic Regional Office and The Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project.  

ATC's very own Todd Coyle will provide a backdrop of fabulous music from 6:00 to 7:30 interspersed with snippets from the WITF/Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project Film Series.  Then, enjoy a screening of the new film Trail Magic: The True Story of Emma "Grandma" Gatewood Story from FilmAffects. Bring your favorite chairs or blankets and settle in for a terrific evening on the Lake.  Bring along dinner and make it a picnic or just enjoy the music and movie. This event is free and open to the public.  Register here. For more information, contact Kelly at 717-258-5771


Date: October 6, 2016

Location: Exact location TBD, Shippensburg, PA
Time: 3:18 am

Thursday, October 6 TBD Shippensburg, exact location TBD In collaboration with the PA Historical Association Annual Meeting, Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project, and WITF.   The birth of the modern conservation and environmental movements can trace their roots to Pennsylvania - and right to the the South Mountain Region, in many cases. From Gifford Pinchot to Rachel Carson, Pennsylvanians’ passion for protecting the land, water and air arose from conflict — industrialization and destruction of natural resources. In many cases, ordinary people did extraordinary things. They were people who had fallen in love with Pennsylvania’s resources and were willing to devote their lives to creating and preserving resources that we enjoy today. The Mira Lloyd Dock documentary, a collaboration between WITF and the Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project, will be screened on opening day of The Pennsylvania Historical Association Annual Meeting. This year’s theme is “Technology, Business and the Environment."   About the Mira Lloyd Dock documentary: In 1899, women were seen and not heard. Except Mira Lloyd Dock (1853- 1945), a little known Progressive Era activist. This botanist, forester and preservationist did just as much, if not more, for the city of Harrisburg than her male counterparts. She helped transform the city from a dirty, disease-ridden mess to a clean, manicured and modern destination worthy of Pennsylvania’s capital city. In 1901, while Dock was working on making Harrisburg a model city, Gov. William Stone appointed her to the state Forest Reservation Commission. She was the first woman ever in the state appointed to a governmental position at a time before women could even vote. During her 12 years of service on the commission, one million acres of forest became reserves. It was through the new school of forestry at Mont Alto that Dock had her greatest influence on forestry. From its first year in 1903 until it was subsumed by the Pennsylvania State College in 1929, she was the professor of botany.    


Date: October 20, 2016

Location: Appalachian Trail at Pine Grove Furnace State Park - 1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners, PA 17324
Time: 6:00 pm

Thursday, October 20 6:00pm Appalachian Trail at Pine Grove Furnace State Park - 1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners, PA 17324   In collaboration with Appalachian Trail Conservancy & Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park.   Join us for a fantastic evening of hiking and history along the Appalachian Trail in Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  Andre Weltman, Chair of Friends of Pine Grove, will be our guide for the evening sharing the incredible stories of the hostory of the region, the Appalachian Trail, the iron industry and how all of it has woven together over time to bring us to where we are today. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes.  This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required as space is limited. For more information, contact Kelly McGinley at 717-258-5771 or

2015 Season


Date: March 10, 2015

Location: Carlisle Theatre

7 PM at the Carlisle Theatre, Carlisle, PA. In conjunction with the Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project and WITF.     Pennsylvania has been called the “Cradle of Conservation” for the role the state and many of its leading citizens played in creating a popular conservation movement in America. Join us to view short documentaries on two of Pennsylvania ‘s foremost conservation leaders – Maurice Goddard and Ralph Abele. Learn more about our state’s conservation and environmental heritage and share ideas on how to share these stories and to inspire future leaders. Panelists: Cindy Adams Dunn, acting secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Pete Duncan, former secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources and colleague of Abele; Marci Mowery, president of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation; and Paul Zeph, director of conservation for Audubon Pennsylvania. Moderator: Caren Glotfelty, executive director of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation        


Date: March 26, 2015

Location: Cumberland County Historical Society

In conjunction with the Cumberland County Historical Society and the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau. Exhibit opening reception at 6:00 pm; talk to follow at 7:00 pm   Small, localized mills had a tremendous impact on shaping European settlement development patterns, and though these structures have largely been forgotten, their legacy is still surprising strong. Historian and author Richard Tritt will give a brief overview of the history of mills in Cumberland County. He will also highlight the Cumberland County Historical Society’s new Mill book publication and discuss how this project evolved. Franklin & Marshall professors Dorothy Merritts and Robert Walter will discuss the only recently discovered manner in which the innumerous historical dams continue to influence the biophysical world – highlighting how the accumulated sediments left behind these dams alter stream dynamics, geomorphology, and floodplain ecology.   Mill postcard


Date: September 25, 2015

Location: Franklin County

In conjunction with the Conococheague Institute and the Little Antietam Creek, Inc. 7:00 pm


Date: October 8, 2015

Location: Cumberland County Historical Society

In conjunction with the Friends of Craighead House. 7:00 pm                 From Frank Craighead and his siblings who grew up in a house along the Yellow Breeches, descended a battalion of people who made the study of various aspects of nature their life’s work. The house at Craighead Station was a summer home where the children played, swam and fished, pioneered falconry as a sport in the U.S., studied nature and the classics, and began writing careers. As teenagers, twins Frank Jr. and John became known for their work with hawks and owls. Soon, they were writing and photographing articles for National Geographic. Jean wrote over 100 books about animals and children, including Newbery Honor winner My Side of the Mountain. Tom Benjey, who has written about the Craigheads, will share what he has learned about this family, for whom the study of nature was central.


Date: November 12, 2015

Location: Shippensburg University

7:00 pm   Award-winning author and respected natural historian Scott Weidensaul will discuss his  ground-breaking research on the migration patterns of Northern Saw-Whet Owls, Norther America's smallest owl. This research has focused on three locations within south-central Pennsylvania, including at Kings Gap atop South Mountain. Learn more about Weidensaul's research and Northern Saw-Whet Owls here.

2014 Season


Date: March 27, 2014

Location: Penn State Mont Alto Campus – Forestry Auditorium

The Pennsylvania Forestry Association, the PSU-Mont Alto Forestry Club, and the South Mountain Partnership partnered to look at the past, present and future of forestry in the South Mountain region. From the cut over and burned over landscape that Joseph Rothrock knew             140 years ago to the mosaic of fertile agricultural valleys and shady wooded ridges that we see today, the Pennsylvania landscape has been transformed. The panel discussion highlighted the history, diversity, and current management of South Central Pennsylvania’s hardwood forest resource: Joe Barnard (retired, USDA Forest Service) summarized the legacy of Joseph Rothrock and his efforts to protect of thousands of acres of  Pennsylvania forest. Matt Keefer (Assistant State Forester for Community and Private Forest Stewardship, DCNR) detailed the current condition of South Central Pennsylvania’s forests and outlined the opportunities and threats to day-to-day management of private and public forests. Nancy Baker (private forest landowner) offered a case history of a 163-acre woodland she owns and manages, land that has been in her family since her great grandfather conducted its first timber harvest in the 1860's.


Date: April 24, 2014

Location: Shippensburg University, Old Main Chapel

Over the last two hundred and fifty years, African American churches and organizations have established dozens of burial grounds in communities throughout the South Mountain region. These historic cemeteries provide remarkable sites for documenting the rich African American history of the region, including such issues as the history of slavery, emancipation, segregation, and African-American military service in the United States Civil War. Today, many of these historic burial grounds have vanished, or they are threatened by a combination of weathering, neglect, vandalism, and development.  Dr. Steven Burg, Professor of History at Shippensburg University, discussed the ways that the historic burial grounds of the South Mountain can be used to discover the region’s rich African-American history.  Dr. Burg’s talk also introduced a discussion on the threats posed to these sites, and a variety of efforts that are currently underway to preserve, protect, and share the stories of these hallowed grounds. This Speakers Series event was held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Hallowed Grounds project, which hosted a cemeteries conservation workshop prior to the evening’s public lecture.


Date: October 12, 2014

Location: Arendtsville, National Apple Harvest Festival

The Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail partnered with the South Mountain Partnership to present a discussion on the changing nature of agriculture in the South Mountain region. The discussion drew upon the first-hand experiences of four family farms that have found renewed economic success by turning back to an old use of cider for a new audience: hard cider and sweet cider.  Hauser Estate Winery discussed their hard cider production and how it transitioned their farm and business. Reid's Winery highlighted the planting and use of heirloom cider apple for their farm's hard cider production. Big Hill Winery and Cider Works shared insights into the creation of a modern farm business based on the old value added product of hard and sweet apple cider. Finally, Oyler's Organic Farms and Market discussed transitioning from conventional apple growing to organic apple growing for sweet cider production.


Date: November 13, 2014

Location: Dickinson College, Stern Center

Climate change is a controversial topic, and explanations for its cause are debated in government, in the media and around the dinner table. Look further and the long and short term ramifications of climate change emerge, and may be investigated at multiple levels, from global to local. The final Speakers Series event of 2014 focused on a discussion about how climate change is affecting South Mountain and Pennsylvania. Shippensburg University earth science professor Tim Hawkins introduced the discussion, drawing upon his own research as well as the research of the broader climatology community to describe historic weather and climate patterns and extremes for the South Mountain region. Dr. Hawkins outlined projections of future shifts in climate, as well as the important local, state, federal and international decisions that we face in light of these changes. A group of panelists followed: Ben Wenk, Three Springs Fruit Farm, provided a first-hand account of changes he is witnessing on the growing seasons on his farm; Dr. Jeff Niemitz, Dickinson College, shared the research his has been doing on the impacts of climate change on local flood events and what that means for the South Mountain landscape; and Dr. Marc McDill, Penn State University, outlined how Pennsylvania’s hardwood forests are responding to changing climatic patterns.

2013 Season


Date: February 28, 2013

Location: Messiah College

The South Mountain landscape is renowned for its ecologically rich and important vernal pool complexes. Dr. Erik Lindquist and Dr. David Foster, both of Messiah College, highlighted the vital habitat that vernal pools provide for amphibians, insects and crustaceans. Drawing upon their research within the local landscape, Lindquist and Foster discussed the identification of vernal pools and explored themes around the conservation of these critical landscape elements.


Date: April 10, 2013

Location: Penn State Mont Alto

One of the geological features that makes South Mountain so special is rhyolite, an igneous rock quarried extensively by Native Americans for making tools and weapons. Geologist Bob Smith provided an overview of the geology and distribution of rock formations that contains this stone within the South Mountain landscape. State Museum of Pennsylvania Curator Kurt Carr followed by discussing the cultural importance of rhyolite, and the important role that the stone played in Native American culture.


Date: September 12, 2013

Location: Wilson College

Bees, wasps and other native pollinators provide fascinating and critical services to the diversity of South Mountain ecosystems. Alex Surcica, lead horticulture consultant for the Cumberland Valley Cooperative Association, presented on his research to document native pollinators and to discuss alarming trends in populations of these overlooked by critically important insects. Most of the food we eat depends upon pollinators, but a to-date unexplained “Colony Collapse Disorder” is causing pollinator populations to plummet across the country. A panel discussion to conclude the evening focused on what can be done to maintain and increase populations of these essential insects.


Date: October 24, 2014

Location: Shippensburg University

From state hunting seasons to international bans on ivory, conservation law plays an important part in wildlife protection here in South Mountain and around the world. The Pennsylvania Game Commission was established in 1895 as one of the Progressive-era reforms spearheaded by conservation leaders such as Joseph Rothrock, Gifford Pinchot and Mira Lloyd Dock. Chad Eyler of the Pennsylvania Game Commission provided an overview of the history of development of conservation law, and how it has evolved into the modern system we witness in the South Mountain region and across the nation. Eyler was joined by Rich Mislitsky (Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation) and Dr. Nathan Thomas (Shippensburg University) for a panel discussion to explore how conservation law is being applied to address current conservation challenges.

2012 Season


Date: May 20, 2012

Location: Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Dr. Noel Potter (retired, Dickinson College) and Dr. Helen Delano (DCNR-Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey) explored the intersection of geology and human history by revisiting the historic iron industry at Pine Grove Furnace. The South Mountain landscape was ideally situated to support a robust iron industry: the underlying geology provided raw ore, and the surrounding forests offered a seemingly endless supply of fuel for transforming the ore into iron. This geology influenced and shaped human history, as for over 100 years it supported a thriving iron industry. This event was hosted in conjunction with the Cumberland County Historical Society to celebrate the Society’s summer exhibit, “Pine Grove: A Lasting Legacy.”


Date: July 19, 2012

Location: Norlo Park Community Center

Barns are the reason the agricultural productivity of south-central Pennsylvania grew and flourished. In addition to establishing the region’s economy, these houses of labor were and in many ways still are part of our cultural heritage. Dianna Heim, author of “Cumberland Valley Barns: Past and Present,” and Phil Schaff, local barn photographer and researcher, explored the many facets of the areas barns, including bank barns: those barns built into the side off a hill (or “bank”) such that both upper and lower levels are accessible at ground level. Heim and Schaff also discussed how development has impacted the farms on which these barns stand.


Date: August 26, 2012

Location: Kings Gap Environmental Education Center

Snakes and bats are a duo of mysterious, elusive creatures that are sometimes misunderstood. Nevertheless, these two species play an important role in the ecology of the South Mountain region. State wildlife biologists Aura Stauffer (DCNR-Bureau of Forestry) and Jim Chestney (PA Fish and Boat Commission) highlighted the natural history and precarious future of these unique animals, and discussed ongoing research and regional study of their habitat requirements.


Date: September 8, 2012

Location: PSU Fruit Research & Extension Center

Fruit growers are constantly encountering new invasive species and disease that threaten the health of the numerous orchards that dot the South Mountain area. David Biddinger (PSU Fruit Research and Extension Center) highlighted the brown marmorated stink bug as an invasive species that has recently caused considerable crop losses within the South Mountain Fruit Belt. The emergence of this and other invasive species has coincided with significant declines in native pollinator populations. Biddinger explored how scientists, researchers, and growers are working together to combat these threats to the South Mountain Fruit Belt.


Date: September 18, 2012

Location: Gettysburg Hotel

Neighborhoods all across the nation are starting a human quest toward wellness with rails to trails, community gardens, recycling and state parks accessible to most. Given this national campaign, why do people with mental health challenges die decades earlier than the general population? Many point to the observable: smoking, obesity, psychotropic medications and lack of exercise. What we tend to overlook is that when people live below the poverty level, candy bars, chips and fast food are cheaper than fruits, vegetables and fresh fish. And where are the grocery stores in inner city poverty areas anyway? Convenience stores are on every street corner. What we tend to overlook is that Gina Calhoun (The Copeland Center) shared her personal story of mental health recovery after 17 years of back-to-back institutionalization and escaping from Harrisburg State Hospital to live on the streets. Calhoun highlighted that people with mental health challenges often feel “apart from” rather than “a part of” their neighborhood and live in social isolation, and went on to explore the link of mental health to healthy eating, exercise, and access to the outdoors. This Speakers Series event was held in conjunction with the 2012 Go Local for Health Summit.


Date: November 8, 2012

Location: Shippensburg University

From trout fishing in our spring-fed creeks to the ice cold glass we enjoy on a hot summer’s day, water is at the heart of our quality of life. Over the years, new demands on ground and surface water have created challenges for conserving these important resources. Patrick Bowling (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) provided an overview of the how geology influences aquatic systems, and how human behavior and development is impacting these systems. Bowling was joined by Dr. Christopher Woltemade (Shippensburg University) and Michael Christopher (Washington Township) for a panel discussion to conclude the evening.

2011 Season


Date: February 9, 2011

Location: Cumberland County Historical Society

Held in conjunction with the Cumberland County Historical Society, this event explored innovative partnerships emerging around the preservation of the South Mountain landscape. Kimberly Williams (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) discussed the layers of history held within the forested slopes of South Mountain – history which is a key ingredient in the region’s strong sense of place. Williams highlighted stories of natural wealth, refuge (historically for those fleeing slavery and for those seeking improved health – and today for those seeking recreation and solitude), and the conflict of a contested landscape during the Civil War era.


Date: April 7, 2011

Location: Penn National Community

Dave Armstrong of the PA Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation explored the natural and cultural history of the American Chestnut, once one of the most important – if not the most important – tree species in the eastern forest. Armstrong recounted the catastrophe of the chestnut, and how a fungal infection known as chestnut blight has essentially eliminated mature chestnut trees from our forests. Armstrong additionally introduced and described efforts to restore the tree within forests, with emphasis on working being done in the Michaux State Forest and the South Mountain area.


Date: May 12, 2012

Location: Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resources Center

The Chesapeake Treasured Landscape Initiative would coordinate and increase funding for conservation of landscapes within the Chesapeake region, identify landscapes of ecological, cultural, and historical significance, expand public access to the Bay and rivers, create a public-private partnership to leverage land conservation funding, and develop landscape level approaches to land conservation, including the potential for expanding and establishing units of the national wildlife refuge system and the national park system. Jonathan Doherty, Assistant Superintendent of the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay office, introduced the Chesapeake Treasured Landscape Initiative and discussed what is being done to protect the treasured working and natural landscapes throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Doherty was joined by Brenda Barrett (DCNR) for a panel discussion to conclude the evening.


Date: June 11, 2011

Location: Pine Grove Furnace State Park

In celebration of National Get Outdoors Day, this event was structured by a short 1.5 mile walk punctuated by six different stops to hear speakers share stories about our cultural heritage and natural history here in the South Mountain landscape. The speakers interpreted stories of: local Native American history, the Underground Railroad in South Mountain, the South Mountain iron industry, a local history of the natural world, the history and future of the Appalachian Trail at the Appalachian Trail Museum, and the history of Camp Michaux.


Date: September 29, 2011

Location: Shippensburg University

When we look closely at the Appalachian Mountains, in addition to the mountains and ridgelines we too see a central valley running from Pennsylvania to Georgia. This Great Valley, known as the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania, has served as a vital transportation link for many centuries and has shaped the region’s history in a wide variety of ways. The relatively flat route funneled settlement to the south and west and attracted the attention of Confederate generals during the Civil War. Today, the I-81 corridor is one of the nation’s most important north-south routes and plays an import economic role for local communities. Dr. Paul Marr (Shippensburg University) explained the history of transportation in the South Mountain region, and discussed how the area’s geography influenced settlement and development patterns. Dr. Marr was joined by Steven Deck, a senior planner for a south-central Pennsylvania regional transit coordination study, and Kirk Stoner, planning director for Cumberland County, for a panel discussion on contemporary land use issues.


Date: November 10, 2011

Location: Wilson College

Nationally known author Mark Winne, who addresses issues on connecting healthy foods to local communities in his books, “Closing the Food Gap” and “Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas,” offered remarks on the American food system, and why its current condition is cause for concern. Winne also discussed possible actions to reimagine the food system at a more localized manner. A panel discussion concluded the evening, discussing the food system within south-central Pennsylvania and on-going work to improve this system. This Speakers Series event was held in conjunction with a day-long Symposium, held at Wilson College and funded in part by a South Mountain Mini-Grant awarded to Healthy Adams County. For more information about this Symposium, click here.

2010 Season


Date: February 1, 2010

Location: Capitol Theater, Carlisle, PA

South Mountain’s history provides a conservation model for the rest of the nation, and an example of what we might use in confronting 21st Century environmental problems. During America’s Progressive Era, 1890-1917, citizens were instrumental in conserving their local forests. Much of the initial work occurred on South Mountain’s State Forest Commission’s reserve. Concerned citizens in organizations like Pennsylvania State Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Pennsylvania Forest Association lobbied for the funds for the Commission to reforest South Mountain, to create a school to train professional foresters, and to establish the Commonwealth’s state parks system. Dr. Susan Rimby’s lecture recounted the story of Pennsylvania’s early conservation history. Following the lecture, Dr. Rimby was joined by Scott Weidensaul (Ned Smith Nature Center) and Dan Marcucci (East Carolina University) for a discussion on current conservation issues.


Date: May 10, 2010

Location: Penn State-Mont Alto

Dr. Peter Linehan, associate professor of Forestry at Mont Alto, discussed how the Pennsylvania Forestry Association mobilized and educated the public and influenced state lawmakers to revolutionize the management of forests in Pennsylvania. Nestled among the trees on the edge of the Michaux State Forest, Penn State Mont Alto has educated America’s foresters for over a century. It was one of the first forestry schools in the nation. The goal at that time was to crusade for a change from the barren hills caused by forest fires and charcoal production. Following the lecture, Dr. Linehan was joined by Nels Johnson (The Nature Conservancy) and Dr. James Grace (DCNR) for a discussion on contemporary forestry issues.


Date: July 10, 2010

Location: Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Six hikes at varying levels of difficulty brought together a range of individuals, from small children to the avid hikers. The hikers traveled in time as they walked along the Appalachian National Scenic and surrounding Park trails, with historians and interpreters sharing the rich local history that remains so evident on our landscape. These mini-lectures covered such topics as: local Native American history, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the age of resource extraction/industrialization, a local history of plants and animals in the region, the history of the Appalachian Trail featuring the first through-hiker (Earl Shaffer), and a virtual tour of the local Appalachian National Scenic Trail and fun related activities.


Date: August 12, 2010

Location: Historic Round Barn, Biglerville, PA

Pennsylvania’s farmers played a unique role in supporting the Union troops during the Civil War, and indeed it was their farms that drew Robert E. Lee across the Mason Dixon line, into the “Pennsylvania Breadbasket,” and towards Gettysburg. Lenwood Sloan, director of cultural and heritage tourism for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania facilitated an open dialogue concerning preservation, conservation, and commemoration projects for the upcoming Civil War 150 commemoration and the year-long commemoration of American Patriots of the Civil War. Sloan also shared information about the United States Colored Troops (USCT) Hallowed ground project that is working to conserve a series of important historic sites in Adams, Franklin, and Cumberland Counties. A panel discussion concluded the evening by exploring present day topics of preserving the agricultural lands the troops fought so hard for.


Date: September 16, 2010

Location: Harrisburg Area Community College

The South Mountain landscape is nested within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and is an important area that influences the health of this estuary system. Dr. Claire Jantz (Shippensburg University) delivered a talk on the relationships and impacts of local land use and human activity on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The Bay is both the largest and historically most productive estuary in the U.S., and Dr. Jantz highlighted how sustainable development and smart growth strategies can help restore the bay’s health and productivity. The evening concluded with a panel discussion that discussed additional environmental issues facing the Bay.


Date: November 4, 2010

Location: Dickinson College

In collaboration with the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues at Dickinson College, this event featured a presentation by Dr. Sally McMurry (Penn State University) about the history of agriculture in Pennsylvania, with a focus on our local region. Understanding, preserving and revitalizing Pennsylvania’s historic agricultural landscapes can contribute to a sustainable farming future. Brian Snyder (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) followed Dr. McMurry by highlighting the South Mountain landscapes proximity to large population centers, and the opportunities that this opened for sustainably raised Pennsylvania farm products.


Date: December 1, 2010

Location: Shippensburg University

When the Gettysburg Battlefield quieted following the fighting in July 1863, another story began. Dr. Brian Black (Altoona College) recounted this story, which spans almost 150 years, of how the landscape at Gettysburg passed through many differing episodes in the culture of preservation, and national trends related to protecting our sacred symbols. Dr. Black was joined by Greg Goodell (National Park Service) and Mark Shaffer (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission) for a panel discussion on the future of Gettysburg National Military Park and the relationship between environmental conservation and cultural preservation in the South Mountain region.

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