Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference

April 3-5, 2024

Bethlehem, PA

Conference Main

Register Venue & Lodging Program

Wednesday April 3

Wednesday April 3 | Mobile Seminars (times vary)

Landscape Conservation Within the Kittatinny Ridge and Minsi Lake Greenway Corridor [10AM-4PM]

REGISTRATION CLOSED. Email [email protected] to be added to the wait list.

This mobile workshop will showcase landscape scale conservation and connectivity within the Kittatinny Ridge and the Minsi Lake Greenway Corridor. Featured sites will highlight the compatibility and success of land conservation, stewardship, habitat restoration, and recreation in environmentally sensitive areas.  We will see the vast corridors of open space conserved and the significance of vernal pools, woodlands, and general regional geology in land conservation efforts.  Partial funding for open space conservation was provided by Upper Mount Bethel Township open space program (EIT funds), PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Northampton County Livable Landscapes Grant Program. Guest speakers from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), PA Fish and Boat Commission, Heritage Conservancy, Northampton County Parks and Recreation, Northampton County Conservation District, Kirkridge Retreat Center, Columcille Megalith Park, and Friends of Minsi Lake will share their conservation partnership efforts throughout the day. [Eligible for .35 PRPS CEUs]

Complete Required Waiver


We will walk earthen trails on two properties permanently protected by conservation easements at Kirkridge Retreat Center and Columcille Megalith Park in Upper Mount Bethel Township for 1.25 miles. We will walk a paved 1.2-mile trail on top of the dam and jetties at Minsi Lake.   Total walking distance is approximately 2.5 miles on earthen trail surface of dirt, grass, and rocks with a slight incline and decline through woodlands and meadows and a paved trail.  Wearing appropriate gear for weather and wind conditions and hiking boots are strongly recommended for the rocky trail surface.     

Stops Include: 

  • Nelson Lodge, Kirkridge Retreat Center (walk to Kittatinny Ridge overlook) 
  • Columcille Megalith Park (walk on earthen and natural trail surfaces, including some steep incline) 
  • Minsi Lake (walk paved trail along the lake, pictured below) 


Sherry Acevedo | Conservation Coordinator, Northampton County Parks and Recreation
Kristen Hand | Geoscientist Supervisor, Strategic Studies Section, Pennsylvania Geologic Survey, PA DCNR
Zachary Rudd | Waterways Conservation Officer, PA Fish & Boat Commission
Nathan Pritchard | Watershed Specialist/Agricultural Technician, Northampton County Conservation District
Sebastian Harris | Conservation Easement Steward, Heritage Conservancy 

Jordan Creek Greenway Mobile Tour [11AM-4PM]

REGISTRATION CLOSED. Email [email protected] to be added to the wait list.

Join Wildlands Conservancy for a mobile tour of the Lehigh Valley’s Jordan Creek Greenway. The tour includes 3 stops with speakers on completed and ongoing projects. [Eligible for .3 PRPS CEUs]

Complete Required Waiver


Most stops include a walking tour of the site with accessible paved or gravel paths that might include mild slopes. Lunch will be in the Trexler Nature Preserve Environmental Education Center where bathrooms will also be available. Dress for the weather. 

Stops Include: 

  • City of Allentown location (explore newly completed greenway sections, and safe crossings) 
  • Covered Bridge Park (short walking tour) 
  • Trexler Environmental Center 


Chris Stanford | Michael Baker International
Mandy Tolino | Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Allentown
Chris Strohler | Long-Range Planner, South Whitehall Township
Arianna Kohler | Environmental Education Coordinator, Wildlands Conservancy
Kate Ebel | Senior Restoration Ecologist, Willdlands Conservancy 

Soil Health Walk & Talk: Evolution of a Small Family Farm Using Agritainment [1-4PM]

Soil Health is the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.  Healthy high functioning soils provide a multitude of benefits to the community as a whole.  Some of the functions of healthy soils are the production of food, feed, and fiber; the capture, filtration, and storage of water; cycling and recycling of nutrient and chemicals; resisting erosive forces; detoxification of pollutants; and providing and enhancing habitat for greater biodiversity. 

This tour will focus on the practice of the use of cover cropping best management practice, using broadcast seeding of cereal rye over corn crop residue to maintain soil quality, prevent erosion, providing potassium exchange and supplement nutrients over the winter season. Staff will discuss the benefits of Cover Crops, the differing types and methods of each, as well as provide visual exploration of the soil profiles on fields planted with cover crops vs those not planted in the fall season.  

We will also be exploring the evolution of a small family dairy farm, Klein Farms Dairy & Creamery (pictured below) and how they turned this operation around in a difficult milk market. The Klein family decided it was time to rethink the direction of the struggling family farm.  They reinvented the future of the farm by making their own cheeses, selling retail products from the farm and expanding into their own ice cream shop, selling directly to the community.  They then expanded the operation into a thriving “agri-tainment” business which supports their success to this day. [Eligible for .25 PRPS CEUs]

Complete Required Waiver


NOTE: This tour does not include transportation. Participants will need to drive or carpool to the site (address will be provided closer to the conference).


Ryan Shaw | Resource Specialist, Northampton County Farmland Preservation
Austin Drager | NRCS District Conservationist, Natural Resource Conservation Service
Layne Klein | Owner/Operator, Klein Farm Dairy & Creamery 

Wednesday April 3 | Educational Sessions 10AM-12PM

Wilderness First Aid Basics for Stewardship Staff

This workshop will introduce people to basic concepts in Wilderness First Aid, train people in basic lifesaving methods, and discuss accident prevention and response planning considerations.  This will not result in a certification but will instruct participants in basic life saving measures and will encourage participants to enroll in a certification course. [Eligible for .2 PRPS CEUs]


Keith Williams | Community Engagement Coordinator/Paramedic/Wilderness EMT/Wilderness Medicine Instructor, Lancaster Conservancy 

Bio: Keith is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Lancaster conservancy.  He has a BS in environmental biology and an MS in Ecological Teaching and Learning. His career includes working as an ecologist for the US army and teaching developing and managing outdoor education programs for 25 years. He has established river snorkeling education programs across the country for the US Forest Service, and river-based education programs in Puerto Rico and China.  He has written two books on river snorkeling. He is also a Nationally registered paramedic, works as a paramedic for the Aberdeen MD Fire Department, is a wilderness EMT, swift water rescue technician and instructor for Wilderness Medical Associates. 

Condemnation and Conserved Land (CLE)

Conserved land or easements under your stewardship are always subject to the possibility of condemnation. Land trusts have successfully used Act 45 of 2018 to stop school districts and local governments from condemning land subject to conservation easement. However conserved lands enjoy no such protections if PennDOT, the Turnpike Commission, other state agencies, or public utility facilities involving federal approval are involved. In those latter situations, a land trust may achieve better or worse outcomes through negotiation but likely has no legal footing to prevent the use of eminent domain. In this session, you will hear from four land trusts on how they have navigated the threat of condemnation, either stopping it or working with the condemning authority to make the best of the situation. Additionally, Lauren Pregmon Tetreault will speak to legal issues and her experiences in advising land trusts on condemnation and Turnpike Commission staff will provide a condemning authority’s perspective. [Eligible for 2 CLE credit hours, substantive] [Eligible for .2 PRPS CEUs]


Erin McCormick | Director, Conservation Easement Program, Natural Lands 

Bio: Erin is responsible for oversight and administration of Natural Lands’ easement program, including monitoring, enforcement, amendments, and engaging with easement landowners and partners. Erin has been with Natural Lands since 2006 and has also worked on securing easements and fee simple acquisitions in strategic landscapes throughout the entire Natural Lands’ service region in eastern Pennsylvania, consulting with municipalities on open space acquisition, and working on land transfers to government agencies. Prior to joining Natural Lands, she clerked for the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (now Earthrise Law Center) in Portland, Oregon, one of the leading environmental law clinics in the country. Erin received her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and is licensed to practice law in New Jersey. She has a B.A. in Biology from Rutgers College-Rutgers University. 

Kris Kern | Vice President, Heritage Conservancy 

Bio: Kris has more than ten years of land-use planning and conservation experience. In addition to assisting with Heritage Conservancy’s grant writing and fundraising efforts, Kris works with municipalities and private landowners to protect land via conservation easements and fee acquisitions. Before joining Heritage Conservancy, she worked for the County of Bucks, administering three grant programs under its Open Space Program. Kris is a graduate of Kutztown University and the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Master of City and Regional Planning degree. 

Pam Brown | Conservation Director, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust 

Bio: Pam joined French & Pickering in 2004 as a Trails Consultant and became the full-time Conservation Director in 2006. She oversees all aspects of land protection, from landowner outreach, grant and easement writing, to managing closing transactions. Her interest in trail and land protection came from years of competitive horseback riding on hundreds of acres of open land in Chester County, PA. When those lands became threatened by development in the 1980s, Pam became a volunteer with the West Vincent Township Open Space Task force and went on to chair the Open Space Advisory Committee for several years while working for French & Pickering. In addition to her work at French & Pickering, Pam is Co-Founder of the West Vincent Land Trust. Most recently, she assumed the role of Hopewell Big Woods Partnership Coordinator, which was founded in 2001 through Natural Lands. A former professional photographer and small business owner/operator, Pam has a diverse background, which lends itself to complicated negotiations and relationship building—both necessary in working with the numerous partners involved in conservation. 

Shelly Tichy | President, Westmoreland Conservancy 

Bio: Shelly Joined the all-volunteer Westmoreland Conservancy October 2000 and stepped up to the Board in 2001. She has served as secretary, treasurer, and vice president at various times, and as president from 2008 – 2014, and again from 2016 – present. Westmoreland Conservancy achieved accreditation in 2013 and renewed in 2019.  In addition to her work with the Conservancy, Shelly works full time and has also volunteered at an assisted living facility for the past 21+ years doing a music & memories program with the residents. She retired from teaching ballroom dancing after 30 years. 

Lauren Pregmon | Pregmon Law Offices 

Bio: Lauren practices general real estate with a strong emphasis on conservation law. Lauren is proud to have counseled land trusts and landowners in conservation transactions which have resulted in thousands of conserved acres throughout the Commonwealth. A regular lecturer for WeConservePA, she also serves on their Board and Policy Council. Lauren earned her B.A. from the Kenyon College and her J.D. from Wake Forest University. 

Anna Scuderi | Senior Right of Way Acquisition Specialist, PA Turnpike Commission

Bio: Anna joined the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissions Legal Department Right-of-Way Acquisition unit in 2012. Prior to working the Turnpike Commission, she worked for a consulting firm acquiring land for transportation improvements projects. In her position with the Turnpike, she works with all types of property owners acquiring fee simple transactions, securing various types of easements, and the release of easements for improvement projects.

Wednesday April 3 | Educational Sessions 1:30-4PM

Amending Easements for Conservation Success in the Long Run (CLE)

This session will begin with an overview of how state law, the IRS, Standards & Practices, accreditation, and the actual text of an easement document might influence decision-making. It will address why you should seek to amend pre-2001 easements whenever the opportunity arises and touch on sometimes viable alternatives to amendment. It will then explore various facets of amendments in more depth through the exploration and group discussion of various scenarios that land trusts may face. Registrants will be invited in advance of the conference to propose scenarios that could be explored during the session. [Eligible for 2.5 CLE credit hours, substantive] [Eligible for .25 PRPS CEUs]


Andy Loza | Executive Director, WeConservePA 

Bio: Andy Loza has served since 2000 as executive director of WeConservePA where he leads public policy efforts, plans and implements technical assistance and educational programs, writes and edits technical guidance, and directs a terrific staff. His work is informed by seven years as a land trust executive director and leading land use planning, environmental, conservation, and economic development, and trail initiatives for county government. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Lehigh University. 

Justin Hollinger | Director of Conservation Law, WeConservePA 

Bio: Justin Hollinger joined WeConservePA in 2023. A member of the PA Bar, Justin provides legal resources to PA land conservation organizations. His projects include maintaining and updating WeConservePA’s library of model documents and resources, providing legal education, facilitating ongoing cooperation between land conservation attorneys and land conservation personnel, and providing direct legal services. Prior to joining WeConservePA, Justin represented Pennsylvania affordable housing nonprofits in complex real estate transactions. He received his J.D., summa cum laude, from Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Temple University. 

Lauren Pregmon | Pregmon Law Offices 

Bio: Lauren practices general real estate with a strong emphasis on conservation law. Lauren is proud to have counseled land trusts and landowners in conservation transactions which have resulted in thousands of conserved acres throughout the Commonwealth. A regular lecturer for WeConservePA, she also serves on their Board and Policy Council. Lauren earned her B.A. from the Kenyon College and her J.D. from Wake Forest University. 

Ecological Stewardship: Managing What We’ve Protected

Understanding how to best manage natural resources and recreational infrastructure within natural areas can be a daunting task. Yet it is a crucial first step in stewarding the places we have protected. This session will focus on ecological stewardship – exploring methods to identify critical conservation values of a natural area, and then plan for, prioritize, and monitor stewardship actions to address common threats. To do so, we will cover the steps in creating a stewardship plan to guide management of an area. As part of this process, we will discuss assessing the existing conditions of a natural area and determining desired conditions. We will also cover how to prioritize stewardship actions to make management more feasible. Then we will look at the importance of monitoring and different ways to do so, taking into account different levels of monitoring based on available people and monetary resources. These are the key building blocks of managing natural areas to create sustainable, ecologically healthy ecosystems. Finally, we will look at examples of how these steps were put into practice.  

Carrying out these planning steps will help land managers efficiently and effectively use their available resources. It will also allow them to plan out management practices into the future, facilitating annual work plans and budgets. Additionally, having sound stewardship plans can set up land managers to apply for grants to carry out stewardship actions.  

This information draws from a new update to Natural Lands’ Stewardship Handbook. The Handbook was created to provide information on key stewardship issues and opportunities. The new update includes current topics, such as climate change, and expands the geographic scope to be state-wide. While still in process, the updated Handbook will be available through WeConservePA’s Library. [Eligible for .25 PRPS CEUs]


Kelsey Boyd | Stewardship Planning Program Manager, Natural Lands 

Bio: Kelsey joined Natural Lands in 2014. Since then, she has prepared stewardship plans for Natural Lands preserves, as well as municipal and county open space. Recent projects have included the Montgomery County Multi-Municipal Greenways and Stewardship Study and the Antietam Lake Park Natural Resources Stewardship Plan. Kelsey also oversees administration of Natural Lands’ public grants, including USDA and DCNR programs. Prior to working for Natural Lands, Kelsey served with AmeriCorps focusing on natural resource management. Kelsey has her undergraduate degree in Geology and Policy Studies from Lafayette College and her master’s degree in Natural Resource Management from Oregon State University. 

Ephraim Zimmerman | Science Director, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy 

Bio: Ephraim Zimmerman is the Science Director for the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) at Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, where he has worked since 2003. With PNHP, Ephraim supervises a team responsible for planning and conducting ecological inventories, monitoring, management, and restoration. Ephraim received a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University and a Masters of Science in Forest Ecology from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resource and Environment. He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine. 

Roger Latham | Ecologist/Conservation Biologist, Continental Conservation 

Bio: Roger Latham has worked as a research ecologist, conservation biologist, and environmental planner since the year the Endangered Species Act was passed (1973). After earning a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Pennsylvania, he served as Pennsylvania Director of Science and Stewardship for The Nature Conservancy, post-doctoral researcher in biogeochemistry and fire ecology in Penn’s Department of Geology, and faculty member in the Department of Biology at Swarthmore College. For the last 23 years he has been a full-time consultant, conducting applied research and planning for agencies and nonprofit organizations involved in wildlands stewardship and endangered species recovery. 

Jeffrey Wagner | Senior Director, Natural Heritage Program, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy 

Bio: Jeff Wagner directs the Natural Heritage Program at Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) and works with the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) partners to administer and manage the overall program for the state. The program consists of 40 plus biologists, information managers and GIS specialists who collect and manage information concerning Pennsylvania’s rare species and natural communities. This information informs planning and land-use decisions throughout the state and is used in the environmental review process for numerous types of development within the commonwealth. 

Wednesday April 3 | Reception 5-7PM

Wednesday Evening Reception | Wind Creek Deck

The Wednesday evening reception will be held on the beautiful rooftop deck of Wind Creek, overlooking the Lehigh River and the SteelStacks, a revitalized remnant of Bethlehem’s industrial past. Reception includes heavy appetizers (dinner on-your-own). Included in Wednesday registration fee, or available as an add on. 


Thursday April 4

Thursday April 4 | Plenary and Keynote [Begins at 9AM]

Plenary and Keynote Details

Following a welcome from Lehigh and Northampton County Executives, and brief remarks from Pennsylvania’s newest state forester, Seth Cassell, our Keynote address will be given by Dr. Diane White Husic. 


Budburst, Bird Migrations, Bloom Times and Bug Hatches: Their Times They Are a Changin’ 

For centuries, seasonal activities of animals and plants have been monitored for cultural purposes and celebrations, by farmers and gardeners to determine planting and harvesting times, and by naturalists. This observational practice evolved into a scientific area of study known as phenology. Other types of citizen science such as bioblitzes and annual bird counts have gained popularity both for collecting large amounts of data and for educational purposes. The 4th Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007, compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), noted the importance of phenology as being the “simplest process in which to track changes in the ecology of species in response to climate change.” In this presentation, Dr. Diane White Husic will share some history and examples of phenology and discuss how decades of data related to biodiversity surveys or the timing of seasonal events in nature – collected through formal protocols, in personal nature journals, or crowdsourced through software apps on cell phones – provide valuable information for conservation science and land management. 


Dr. Diane White Husic is the founding dean of the Center for Scholarship, Research, and Creative Endeavors at Moravian University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Before this she served as the founding dean of the School of Natural and Health Sciences, chair of Biological Sciences (both at Moravian), and chair of Chemistry at East Stroudsburg University. She also serves as director of Environmental Programs at Moravian, teaching courses on climate change, environmental science, conservation biology, sustainability, environmental health, and biochemistry. Trained as a plant biochemist, her research focuses on the ecological restoration of contaminated sites, examining heavy metal impacts on plants, and return of biodiversity.  She has authored over 50 publications, and contributed to several reports, including the 2011 PA Climate Change Adaptation report. Since 2009 she has attended international meetings as a credentialed observer for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

 In Pennsylvania, she works with nature centers and nonprofits to develop informal educational programming and finding unique ways to effectively communicate science to a general audience and engage the public in science and policy.  She earned a BS and PhD in Biochemistry from Northern Michigan University and Michigan State University, respectively. 

Thursday April 4 | Mobile Seminar

Land, Water, and Tree Crop Conservation in an Urban Environment [12-4PM]

REGISTRATION CLOSED. Email [email protected] to be added to the wait list.

Learn techniques, programs and initiatives to continue to build, restore and rehabilitate lands within a sprawling urban environment. Touring three locations within the Northampton County Parks system, attendees will learn about stream restoration, agroforestry, regional land conservation efforts, securing volunteers and participating. An innovative bank stabilization project along the Monocacy Creek that is surrounded by private housing and office spaces will be presented, to display the connection to the outdoors now available to mental health professionals for therapy time. At Louise W. Moore Park, you will tour the arboretum and learn of a public lands approach to conserving high-quality genetics for agroforestry. Lastly, prepare to see over a decade of reforestation results, new riparian buffers and meadow plantings while hearing about plans to increase land restoration and hunting efforts to provide education and healthy living initiatives, while development fills around its boundaries. [Eligible for .25 PRPS CEUs]

Complete Required Waiver


Stops Include*: 

  • Gertrude Fox Conservation Area 
  • Louise W. Moore County Park 
  • Wayne A. Grube Memorial County Park (pictured below)

*Bus will travel through route conducive to a discussion of warehouse development, land conservation, and the Karst Geology Advisory Council 


Jim Wilson | Recreation Specialist, Northampton County Parks and Recreation
Michael Harrington | Board President, Monocacy Watershed Association
Robbie Coville | Ecosystem Products & Market Specialist, PA DCNR, Bureau of Forestry, Rural & Community Forest Section
Louise Bugbee | President, LMSUPPAN, LLC
Nate Pritchard | Watershed Specialist, Northampton County Conservation District
William Car | State Game Warden #653/Land Management Group 4 Supervisor, Pennsylvania Game Commission 

Thursday April 4 | Session I 11AM-12PM

Lets Talk: Developing Meaningful Communications with Farmers and Rural Landowners

Lancaster Farmland Trust’s mission to vigorously accelerate the permanent protection and stewardship of farmland can only be achieved through successful and continuous communication with our landowners and farming community. In this session, join two experts to learn some tricks (and potential pitfalls) of communication with farmers and rural landowners. The hour will focus on LFT’s successful outreach efforts in its two main areas of focus – the permanent protection of farmland through conservation easements, and the conservation of that land’s natural resources through the implementation of agricultural best management practices. Attendees will leave the session with a better understanding of how their organization can approach farmers, strategies their organizations should avoid, and a set of ideas for how to “sell” preservation and agricultural best management practice implementations to rural landowners through conversations and relationship-building.     

Specific topics highlighted will include communication to the Plan Sect community, strategies for multi-generational properties and leased land, critical skill sets for outreach staff and trusted farm advisors, strategies for leveraging a community’s potential for gossip, ideas for selling stream-related work to small farm operations and steps an organization can take to track and share the status of communication and farmer-willingness. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Jeb Musser | VP of Land Protection, Lancaster Farmland Trust 

Bio: Jeb Musser has been the VP of Land Protection at Lancaster Farmland Trust since 2019. Prior to this role he served in nearly every role in the organization’s Land Protection Department over the past ten years. Jeb is responsible for carrying out the programmatic activities of the Trust, including farmland preservation, implementation of best management practices on farms, fee for service activities, and grant management. He provides direction to the Land Protection staff, interns, and volunteers. Jeb is a commissioner on the Lancaster County Planning Commission and is a member of the Lancaster Clean Water Partners Watershed and Data Action Teams. Jeb graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Geography with focus in Environmental Studies, plus a minor in Government and Political Studies from Millersville University. He also has a professional certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Pennsylvania State University and a certificate in Drones for Land Trust Monitoring from Duke University. Jeb is originally from Lebanon County, where he spent his teenage years helping on a hog farm in South Londonderry Township. He moved to Lancaster County to attend Millersville University and has stayed in the area since. Jeb currently resides in Elizabethtown with his wife, sons, and three pets. Jeb enjoys gardening, camping, fishing, and tinkering. 

Gordon Hoover | Agricultural Outreach Coordinator, Lancaster Farmland Trust 

Bio: As Agricultural Outreach Coordinator, Gordon Hoover is responsible for establishing relationships with a variety of stakeholders – including farmers, municipal officials, and state and federal officials – to advance LFT’s mission of environmental stewardship and water quality improvement in Lancaster County. Before working at LFT, Gordon was the Conservation Coordinator for Salisbury Township an has worked for Land O’Lakes as their Director of Dairy Member Relations. Gordon and his wife Carole also operate Welsh-Vista Farms in Salisbury Township. The former dairy farm is now home to 200 acres of forage crops and a small herd of heifers. Gordon is proud of his long history of good soil-health practices, including over 60 years of cover cropping and more than 25 years of 100% no-till planting. Gordon has served on many agriculture and dairy industry boards, including Land O’Lakes Corporate Board, National Milk Producer Federation Board, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Promotion Board, PA Center for Dairy Excellence Board, and Lancaster County Farm Bureau. Currently, Gordon serves as Supervisor for Salisbury Township, Lancaster Clean Water Partners steering committee, and is a church schoolteacher. 

Implementing Northampton County's Livable Landscapes Open Space Plan

Northampton County Division of Parks and Recreation implements the Livable Landscapes goals, policies, and priorities in Northampton County’s open space plan.  Goals and priorities are aligned with the annual Livable Landscapes Grant Program as consistent implementation of the plan’s recommendations throughout the region.    Over 300 acres have been added to the County Park and Conservation Area system as nature preserves for passive recreation since 2019. Over 9,000 plants, trees, and shrubs have been planted in our parks in riparian buffers, pollinator islands, agroforestry, and beautification to reestablish a native landscape. Since 2006, Northampton County has invested over $19 million of Livable Landscapes grant awards in land conservation, ecological restoration, streambank stabilization, regional trails, parks, recreation, open space plans, and municipal park development and rehabilitation. Participants will learn how the County Parks, Open Space program, and regional trail networks continue to advance in Northampton County working in partnership with our 10 municipal open space programs, municipal partners, and regional, state, and national organizations. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Sherry Acevedo | Conservation Coordinator, Northampton County Parks and Recreation 

Bio: Sherry is the Conservation Coordinator for Northampton County Parks and Recreation, providing the administration of the County Open Space Program, Livable Landscapes Grant Program, land conservation acquisitions and easements, and regional trail networks.  As a Parks and Recreation professional for nearly 30 years she’s assisted partners in grant writing and administration, park and recreation management; outreach and education; greenway, trail, and open space planning and implementation.  She managed the first decade of the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape under the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc. She is a professional photographer and a graduate of East Stroudsburg University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation and Leisure Services Management. 

Bryan Cope | Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, Northampton County Parks and Recreation 

Bio: Bryan is Superintendent of Parks & Recreation for Northampton County. In this role, he is responsible for the preservation and development of over 2,300 acres of lands, manages an annual $4-million budget and supervises 35 full-time and part-time staff. With his time at Northampton County, he has assisted in the preservation of over 2,000 acres, raised over $3.6 million in grant funds, developed and rehabbed over 5-miles of regional trails and is undergoing a multi-year capital improvements program for the 2,300 acre park system. He served as the first Chair of the Scenic, Wild Delaware River Geotourism Program, an Advisory Board member for the September 11th National Memorial Trail, lead member of the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape and Chair of North Catasauqua Planning Commission. Over the past 18-years he has built partnerships with federal, state, local, educational, and non-profit entities to preserve lands, enhance the quality of life within the region and market an outdoor recreational economy.

Utility-Scale Solar in PA: Local Decision-Making Impacting Emerging Energy Development

Proposals for utility-scale solar continue to emerge in municipalities and counties throughout Pennsylvania.  With the Commonwealth being one of the largest energy producers in the U.S., and an equally large generator of electrical power, the associated transmission infrastructure, combined with large amounts of available land, create a compelling case for solar companies to look at PA for siting of new solar facilities.  Driving this is an increasing societal demand for new renewables, strong tax incentives from Washington, declining costs for the technology, and the Keystone State’s place in the midst of a large nearby population center. Competing in parallel with the commercial case, is the desire and need, to preserve agricultural land, particularly high value prime ag soils, for the production of food and fiber.  Although policy decisions driving solar development often occur and the Federal and State levels, the final siting and permitting typically happens locally.

This presentation will take an updated look at the current trends driving utility-scale solar development.  It will also offer an in-depth assessment of the how local decision making, specifically solar ordinances, can direct solar facility siting, and better reflect the wishes of community members, while allowing for greater collective adoption of renewable energy in PA.  The presentation will examine the key issues local elected, planning, and conservation officials might want to consider in the development or revision of a solar ordinance.  There will also be discussion on the latest options for agrivoltaics and how energy and agricultural production on the same land can potentially mitigate the overall loss of prime soils, if the process is thoughtfully planned, executed, and managed over time. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Charlie Schmehl | Principal, Urban Research and Development Corp.

Bio:Charlie Schmehl is a Principal with Urban Research and Development Corporation, a community planning and landscape architecture firm in Bethlehem. He has 39 years of experience with URDC in preparing comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances and subdivision and land development ordinances for over 150 municipalities in Pennsylvania.  This work has included preparing zoning regulations to address solar energy facilities in multiple municipalities, and working to obtain favorable zoning for a large solar farm on behalf of a private developer. He also regularly provides expert testimony at hearings concerning proposed developments and other zoning matters.   He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia and a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Dam Removal in Your Neighborhood: Everything You Wanted to Know About a Dam Removal Project, Process, Benefits, and Challenges

Wildlands Conservancy through partnership support have implemented dam removal as a restoration strategy for over 10 years in the Lehigh River watershed and Lehigh Valley. During this session, participants will learn more about why dam removal is such an effective approach in stream restoration with its extensive ecological and community benefits. This will cover ecological benefits, resiliency to climate change, aquatic connectivity, recreation, and community benefits. Wildlands has developed a strong partnership base over the years for assisting in the project process and educational outreach and focuses on community engagement in their restoration strategy. This session will discuss the process in dam removal projects, common challenges and how to address them, partnership opportunities, and how these projects are supported through funding. Presenters will provide examples of successful projects and partnerships that are ongoing throughout the watershed. Lafayette College Professor Dru Germanoski will be co-presenting with Wildlands Conservancy. Lafayette is a landowner and academic partner in the Bushkill dam removals in Northampton County. Dr. Germanoski engaged his students in the pre, during and post monitoring efforts to assess baseline conditions and instream changes as the stream is restored. Dr. Germanoski will provide a partnering perspective in the dam removal process and share monitoring strategies and outcomes. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Kristie Fach | Director of Ecological Restoration, Wildlands Conservancy 

Bio: As Wildlands Conservancy’s Director of Ecological Restoration, Kristie Fach is responsible for understanding the restoration needs and opportunities in the 1000+ square-mile Lehigh River watershed, and developing and executing a wide array of strategies to address them.  Throughout her 15+ years of work in the conservation field, she has completed many large-scale restoration projects that involved enhancing endangered species habitat, removing dams, and guiding stewardship on public and private land to protect sensitive wildlife habitat. She has led more than 25 dam removals throughout the Lehigh River watershed and Lehigh Valley and developed partnership and community support for the success of these projects. 

Dr. Dru Germanoski | Professor, Lafayette College 

Bio:  Dr. Dru Germanoski is the Dr. Ervin R. VanArtsdalen Professor of Geology and Environmental Science at Lafayette University.  Dr Germanoski joined the Lafayette Faculty in 1987. His research interests include earth surface processes, river form and function, hydrogeology, and environmental geology.  He obtained his Ph.D. from Colorado State University and is a licensed professional geologist in Pennsylvania and a fellow of the Geological Society of America. He has won several awards for Distinguished Teaching and Scholarship. 

Dealing with What Is Left Behind: Dumps, Structures, and Other Bits on Your Preserves

New land acquisitions are exciting for land trusts:  the culmination of many months, years or even decades of relationship building, fundraising and shuffling of paperwork finally resulting in acres added to the portfolio.  However, for your stewardship staff, the work is just about to begin.  Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Land Stewardship Manager Tyson Johnston will discuss approaches to dealing with unwanted and unsightly dumpsites, structures, tanks and more.  We will cover ways to avoid including buildings in your acquisition from the start, tools to help you better understand what is on a perspective property, and how to frame fundraising requests to include funding for dealing with cleanup. We will share advice on when you might be able to use volunteers and other cost-savings measures to clean up and when you might want to rely more on the expertise of a project management firm.  We will share our own experiences, good and bad, along with some of the more interesting discoveries that we’ve made over time. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Tyson Johnston | Land Stewardship Manager, Western Pennylvania Conservancy 

Bio: Tyson joined the staff of Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program at the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 2010 as a Conservation Information Assistant and later as a GIS Specialist.  In 2016, Tyson transitioned to the Conservancy’s Land Conservation and Stewardship team and now manages the Conservancy’s 4,800-acre fee-simple and 15,700-acre easement portfolio in northwestern Pennsylvania, as well as the infrastructure on the Conservancy’s Farmland Access Program lands.  He has overseen myriad management projects on Conservancy preserves, including invasive species treatment, dumpsite cleanups, structure removal, structure rehabilitation, trail and parking lot design and construction, riparian restoration, pollinator plantings, and more.   Tyson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from Slippery Rock University.  He resides with his wife and two daughters on their homestead in Crawford County. 

Using Build Out Analyses to Balance Natural Resource Protection and Future Development

Conducting a build-out analysis can be an effective tool for demonstrating the importance of strong natural resource ordinances, appropriate zoning and proactive land preservation efforts at the municipal, landscape or watershed level. A build-out analysis predicts the development potential allowed by existing zoning regulations and can demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of existing regulations. Not only can this tool reveal the effectiveness of existing zoning in guiding future development, it also highlights land that may be more appropriate for land preservation. This session will highlight the steps undertaken in GIS to perform the analysis, demonstrate the benefits to a build-out analysis, and share examples on how this tool can help identify opportunities for conservation, increasing community resiliency, and strengthening existing easements. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Sarah Sharp | Lead Planner for Municipal Assistance, Brandywine Conservancy 

Bio: Sarah Sharp is a Lead planner for the Brandywine Conservancy’s Municipal Assistance Program. She assists municipalities on planning projects including comprehensive plans, opens space, recreation and natural resource plans, land preservation plans, heritage interpretation plans, sustainable community assessments, and mapping. In addition to helping municipalities with municipal planning projects, Sarah has led the development and launch of the Conservancy’s Climate Resiliency Program. Sarah has a background in GIS and seeks creative ways to use GIS analysis to assist with community planning. Sarah also serves on Chester County’s Environmental and Energy Advisory Board and her local Open Space Committee. She holds a Masters of Science in Geography and a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from West Chester University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from The Pennsylvania State University. Sarah has over five years of experience in municipal planning and GIS with the Conservancy. 

Kristen Frentzel | Easement Manager, Brandywine Conservancy 

Bio: Kristen Frentzel is the Easement Manager for the Brandywine Conservancy’s Easement Stewardship Program, overseeing the administration, monitoring and enforcement of over 500 conservation and agricultural easements held by the Conservancy protecting more than 38,500 acres of land in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware.  She also provides information and assistance to easement landowners on issues involving natural resource management, long-term land stewardship, and architectural plan review.  She holds a Master of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of Delaware.  Kristen has over fifteen years of experience in land conservation and easement stewardship with the Conservancy. 

Thursday April 4 | Session II [1:30-3PM unless otherwise noted]

Harnessing Remote Sensing to Inform Watershed Planning and Restoration Efforts [1:30-2:30PM]

The implementation of best management practices (BMPs) are at the core of restoring ecological communities and reducing excessive nutrient and sediment loads in our broken waterways. In determining the best application of these practices, it is key that we document existing BMPs, assess their current impacts, and identify opportunities for greater implementation. This presents watershed planners and other conservation professionals with a challenge: how do we build BMP inventories while balancing efficiency and accuracy, particularly at larger scales? Methods such as field surveys and transects are often employed, but are labor- and resource-intensive, must be completed in inflexible time windows, and are susceptible to human errors and biases. In other instances, aggregated datasets at the county, regional, or state level are used, saving time and resources, but doing so at the expense of valuable geographic specificity. Even when detailed, spatially-specific data exists, it is often rendered inaccessible due to issues of cost, confidentiality, and/or propriety. Thankfully, remote sensing offers an alternative approach that can increase efficiency, accuracy, availability, and scalability in documenting BMPs. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) explored a variety of such methodologies in the development of two Section 319 watershed implementation plans: Marsh Creek (44.5 mi², HUC-12, Centre County) and the Upper Conestoga River (61.1 mi², HUC-12, Lancaster, Berks, and Chester counties). Explore with us as we discuss our overall watershed planning process and how we used remoted sensing to document multiple BMPs (cover crops, tillage, riparian buffers, etc.), assess relevant conditions and detrimental practices (bank loss, winter manure spreading, etc.), and track changes over time. All data used is publicly available and free of charge, with subsequent analysis having been completed using ArcGIS and Google Earth Engine software. The results have demonstrated high degrees of spatial and temporal accuracy, ease in scalability, and efficiency in terms of cost, labor, and time. Ultimately, the inventories CBF derived from remote sensing informed our hydrological modeling and the development of community-driven strategies of our plans. Furthermore, they will continually be updated over time as we track BMP implementation and progress towards meeting our plan goals. We invite you to join us to discover how remote sensing can inform your conservation efforts! [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Caitlin Glagola | Pennsylvania Senior Watershed Planner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation 

Bio: Caitlin Glagola has been a team member with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Science Team for the past 6 years, where she specializes in developing innovative and collaborative Section 319 watershed management plans, particularly focusing in Centre County, PA. Previously, she worked with the Philadelphia Water Department in their Green Stormwater Infrastructure unit, planning optimal stormwater management at site and neighborhood scales. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Washington & Jefferson College and her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Temple University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring with her husband, son, and dog. 

Brian Gish, AICP |Pennsylvania Senior Watershed Planner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation 

Bio: Since 2018, Brian has developed innovative Section 319 watershed management plans for streams in the Lower Susquehanna Valley, as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Science Team. He specializes in integrating advanced modeling, remote sensing, and geospatial techniques into community-driven environmental planning. Prior to joining CBF, Brian has done related work in Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts, and Germany, with professional experience in both the public and private sectors. He holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Geography from Johns Hopkins University and a graduate degree in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, with a concentration in Environmental Planning. In his spare time, Brian enjoys making furniture and catching many, many trout. 

STEELS: The What, Why, and How of Pennsylvania’s New Educational Standards [1:30-2:30PM]

WHAT is STEELS?  In January 2022, The PA Department of Education adopted new academic standards for Science, Technology & Engineering, Environmental Literacy and Sustainability (STEELS.) The new standards are designed to move instruction away from rote memorization of facts, and focus instead on students’ active participation in scientific discourse and sustained investigations. The new domain ”Environmental Literacy and Sustainability” will be implemented across all grade levels and should be of special interest to environmental educators. This domain incorporates essential principles of environmental education, organized under the following three core ideas: 1) Agricultural and Environmental Systems and Resources; 2) Environmental Literacy Skills; and 3) Sustainability and Stewardship. 

The PDE has established a three-year implementation window for the STEELS standards. Effective June 30, 2025, the current academic standards for Science and Technology (2002) and Environment and Ecology (2002) will be replaced by the new STEELS standards, which will be fully integrated into classroom instruction by the 2025-26 school year.  In support of this goal, the PDE has developed a wealth of materials and resources for educators. 

WHY is it important? The STEELS standards were created in response to abundant research and known best practices in science education, and reinforce what environmental educators have always known – that learners thrive when their natural curiosity is ignited by real-world wonders; when they are offered opportunities to ask meaningful questions; and when given the chance to apply their new knowledge creatively.  These same experiences enhance students’ awareness of the importance of land conservation and prompt their development as livelong environmental stewards. 

HOW can EE providers participate? Over the next few years, teachers and administrators across the state will be preparing to implement the STEELS standards in their K-12 classrooms. The standards have generally been met with enthusiasm, but many teachers have voiced concerns about the skills, resources and most of all – time needed to develop lessons and assessments that will meet the new rigorous curriculum demands. The STEELS standards open the door for community-based environmental educators to play a vital role in bringing new and exciting learning opportunities to students across Pennsylvania. 

This session will provide an overview of the STEELS standards and PDE resources, highlight examples of STEELS standards-aligned lessons and curricula, and facilitate a discussion on the many ways that environmental educators can play a vital in role in bringing new and exciting learning opportunities to students across Pennsylvania. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Paula Purnell | Coordinator of Education Programming, Westmoreland Land Trust 

Bio: Paula Purnell, D.Ed. is an educator from Greensburg, PA. She holds a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University of PA, where she taught for several years.  In 2007, she co-founded Sense of Place Learning, LLC, an education company dedicated to providing place-based environmental learning experiences for children and adults. Dr. Purnell has designed and implemented environmental after-school programs in Pittsburgh’s urban school districts, and in 2018 she taught environmental awareness in Cangnan, China. She co-authored Bug Camp: An Integrated Curriculum for Grades K-6, and has published several peer reviewed journal  articles and contributed chapters for two Springer scholarly book series.  In 2022, Dr. Purnell became the Westmoreland Land Trust’s Coordinator for Education Programming. In this role, she regularly visits public school classrooms and develops community-based and family-friendly environmental education programs and events. 

Karen Rose Cercone | Opperations Assistant, Westmoreland Land Trust 

Bio: Karen Rose Cercone is a life-long resident of Westmoreland County, where she now works as the Operations Assistant for the Westmoreland Land Trust.  Karen Rose attended Penn-Trafford High School before majoring in Geology at Bryn Mawr College.  She earned her PhD in Geochemistry at The University of Michigan and later also received an MFA in Fiction from the University of Pittsburgh.  For thirty-seven years, Karen Rose taught Introductory Geology, Hydrogeology, Geochemistry, and Earth Science for Educators at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  After serving as Provost’s Associate for Academic Assessment and Planning for three years, she retired in 2022 and began her work with the Land Trust in early 2023.  Her work there focuses on organizational efficiency, public outreach, and event planning. 

Beyond Blocking the Bad: Enhancing Conservation Values on Eased Land

Conservation easement holders have gotten good at blocking actions detrimental to the land’s conservation values. However, due to invasive species, deer overbrowsing, climate change, and other factors, the land often needs proactive measures to improve or just maintain present levels of ecological health. What viable options does an easement holder have to advance proactive management for a healthier, more resilient landscape? In this session we will hear from five organizations on how they approach landowner relations and seek to connect landowners with the why behind the easement. They will explore how land trusts can build partnerships and leverage resources to empower landowners and land trusts to engage in ecologically productive land management. [Eligible for .15 PRPS CEUs]


Carl Martin | Director of Property Stewardship, Wildlands Conservancy 

Bio: Carl Martin is passionate about conservation and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. He came to Wildlands in 2011 and is responsible for monitoring and managing all conservation easements, preserves and facilities, in addition to the development and implementation of stewardship and natural resource management plans. Prior to joining Wildlands, Carl worked at Heritage Conservancy and the Lancaster County Conservancy. 

Andrew Fetterman | Vice President for Land Conservation, Berks Nature 

Bio: Andrew joined the Berks Nature Team in February 2023 as Vice President for Land and Conservation Programs. His work centers on the oversight of the land and water conservation programs in Berks County and beyond. In this role, he facilitates a proactive approach to conserving and stewarding Berks County’s exceptional natural and cultural assets by building and maintaining relationships with private individuals as well as local, regional, and statewide organizations. Andrew holds an undergraduate degree in Geology from St. Lawrence University and a Master of Arts in Earth Science degree from the State University of New York, College at Oneonta. He has been a professional Geologist in Pennsylvania since 2002. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the Earl Hills of Berks County. It is there that he nurtured a love for the outdoors and a profound respect for the natural environment. He is an ardent supporter of land protection and indigenous species diversity. 

Karl Russek | Conservation Coordinator, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust 

Bio: Karl Russek is first to hold the newly minted position of Conservation Coordinator for French & Pickering. In February 2022, he began assisting our Conservation Director in all aspects of land preservation efforts, including working to negotiate and structure conservation easements, and documenting the value of the land French & Pickering protects. He also currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Water Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Karl grew up at the headwaters of the Schuylkill River outside Pottsville, PA. Though he has lived in various parts of the US and overseas, he always returns to living somewhere very close to the Schuylkill River. Karl and his wife Ann consider themselves lucky to have raised a family that includes 2 brilliant young daughters right next to Coventry Woods in North Coventry. A self-described avid backpacker/trail runner/mediocre climber, Karl is also really enjoying a slower paced dive into learning about local natural history. 

Jason Andrew Beale | Executive Director, Central Pennsylvania Conservancy 

Bio: Jason Andrew Beale is a lifelong conservationist with a passion for connecting people to the natural world. He has a strong interest in improving habitat connectivity and protecting conservation corridors, especially ridges and waterways. Jason is also an advocate of scalable conservation, highlighting CPC’s stewardship work to inspire landowner to improve habitat in their own yards, farms, and forests. Jason looks forward to growing engagement with CPC throughout the region, strengthening natural and human communities through conservation. Jason has worked in both rural and urban settings, managed nature preserves and interpretive centers, led land acquisition and habitat stewardship projects, and directed animal care and education in both zoo and farm settings. He serves on the board of the Wildlife For Everyone Foundation and is Wetland Committee Chair. Jason is an avid musician and enjoys the outdoors in all seasons, from snow sports to hiking, hunting, and paddling. 

Katie Toner | Conservation Easement Steward, Heritage Conservancy 

Bio: As one of the Conservation Easement Stewards, Katie is responsible for completing baseline documentation studies for new property acquisitions and monitoring existing conservation easements. Recently graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Earth and Environmental Science, Katie was the Alliance for Watershed Education Fellow at Heritage Conservancy before joining the staff in 2020. 

County and Regional Planning: Working Together to Achieve Common Goals

The Land Trust community and County Planning Commissions (CPC) often have similar goals with respect to natural resource protection; the provision of open space; securing agricultural resources, livelihoods, and its heritage; enhancing community and environmental resiliency; and providing for passive recreational opportunities that help connect us with nature, improve our overall health and wellbeing, and help create vibrant and livable communities.  This session intends to explore those common goals and provide a discussion that focuses on actions and programs that our local County Planning Commissions are taking that are mutually beneficial and can help broaden our collective impact.  Representatives from County Planning Commissions in southeast Pennsylvania, near the host city, will be invited to participate in the panel discussion, highlighting their role and accomplishments in these shared goals.  Hosted by representatives from land trusts in SE Pennsylvania, the goal of this session is to highlight the ways and provide success stories and case studies where initiatives, funding, municipal planning, and collaborative opportunities assist Land Trusts in both fulfilling their mission and enhancing their impact. [Eligible for .15 PRPS CEUs]


Robert Daniels | Manager of Community Services, Brandywine Conservancy 

Bio: As the Manager of Community Services at the Brandywine Conservancy, Rob works to forward the organization’s mission of protecting and conserving the land, water, natural, and cultural resources of the Brandywine-Christina watershed by working with municipalities on a variety of planning related projects, including comprehensive plans, open space plans, and trail feasibility studies. He is also responsible for overseeing several projects on Brandywine’s campus in Chadds Ford, including the removal of the Hoffman’s Mill Dam and the implementation of the High Trail, and assists in the feasibility and implementation of Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) in areas of the Brandywine-Christina watershed. In addition, Rob led the Conservancy’s Reforestation Initiative for 5 years, planting thousands of trees, and works with others at the organization to implement the goals of the Brandywine Creek Greenway, a planning initiative encompassing 29 municipalities in Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. Rob is also a lead-member of the organizing team for Bike the Brandywine, an annual bike ride that supports the clean water programs of the Conservancy.  

Prior to his time with the Conservancy, Rob worked as a GIS Specialist for The Trustees in Massachusetts, the nation’s oldest land trust, and the Kansas Forest Service. Rob has over 20 years of experience in the land trust and environmental resource field and holds both a Bachelors and Master’s Degree in Geography.  He lives in East Marlborough Township in Chester County with his wife and two children, where he serves on the municipality’s Environmental Advisory Council and also enjoys biking, hiking, and tending to his native garden plantings. 

Becky Bradley | Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission 

Bio: Becky Bradley has more than 20 years of experience in city, regional, economic development, historic preservation and transportation planning, including experience in small town revitalization, roadway redesign and trail construction.  She has been the Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) since August 2013 and is leading the update of the region’s $4.3 billion regional transportation planning program, as well as balancing the needs of the Lehigh Valley’s rapidly growing population through the LVPC’s county planning responsibilities. The LVPC in 2020 adopted Walk/RollLV, the region’s first ever bicycle and pedestrian masterplan and in 2019 adopted FutureLV: The Regional Plan, which is designed to serve as a blueprint carrying the region to 2045 and beyond. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, she helped forge a partnership with Lehigh County and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to do an analysis of Lehigh Valley residents most at risk of losing their jobs or homes, to enable government leaders to direct county and federal aid to the neighborhoods where it was needed most.  Prior to joining the LVPC, Bradley was the Director of Planning, Codes and Development at the City of Easton, where she was instrumental in the more than $500 million revitalization of the community, including the addition of the Lehigh Valley’s first sculpture trail, the state’s first road diet and the opening of more than 60 restaurants and shops.   

In 2021, she was given the Walter Scheiber Leadership Award, by the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), for her innovative leadership in regional planning, and June 7 was awarded NARC’s Tom Bradley Award, for leadership and excellence of an elected or appointed official in advocating for regional concepts.  She holds a Bachelor of Science, Historic Preservation degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a Master of City Planning degree from University of Pennsylvania. 

Protecting Public Parks and Open Spaces in Perpetuity (CLE)

People rely on their parks and other public open spaces as stable, reliable places for rest and renewal. But just how permanent are they? And what are permissible and impermissible uses of the land? Join this session to learn about protections afforded to local parks and open spaces under Pennsylvania law and steps a community can take to buttress these protections. We will look at recent assaults on supposedly protected places and discuss the various factors that come into play in mounting a defense: PA statutes and Constitution, state grants, deed restrictions, etc. We will walk participants through the newly refreshed Model Declaration of Public Trust, which provides municipalities with a customizable tool for maximizing the protection of public parks and open spaces. [Eligible for 1.5 CLE credit hours, substantive] [Eligible for .15 PRPS CEUs]


Kate Harper | Partner, Timoney Knox LLP 

Bio: Catherine M. (Kate) Harper, a partner at Timoney Knox since 1997, was also a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in the House of Representatives, representing eastern Montgomery County for eighteen years. She chaired the House Local Government Committee. Ms. Harper has a general litigation practice, but focuses on land use (particularly municipal, conservation and zoning law) and real estate in Southeastern Pennsylvania. She handles commercial litigation, contract disputes and employment law matters for entrepreneurs, families and small businesses. She has argued before the United States Supreme Court, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, all of the Pennsylvania appellate courts and the county courts in southeastern Pennsylvania. Kate represents local governments, zoning boards and land development applicants. She also represents land trusts, landowners and conservancies in preservation projects and drafting and enforcing of conservation easements. 


Andy Loza | Executive Director, WeConservePA 

Bio: Andy Loza has served since 2000 as executive director of WeConservePA where he leads public policy efforts, plans and implements technical assistance and educational programs, writes and edits technical guidance, and directs a terrific staff. His work is informed by seven years as a land trust executive director and leading land use planning, environmental, conservation, and economic development, and trail initiatives for county government. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Lehigh University. 

Tour of the Hoover-Mason Trestle at SteelStacks and Interpretive Walk on the South Bethlehem Greenway [1:30-3:30PM]

Just steps away from Wind Creek, discover the beginnings, growth, and decline of Bethlehem Steel through a guided walking tour of SteelStacks. The tour will feature up-close views of the former steel plant and an educational experience about its role in our country’s history. Participants will climb stairs or take an elevator up to the Hoover-Mason Trestle, which provides a unique perspective of the blast furnace and other industrial buildings in the Bethlehem Steel site. The tour will then move over to the South Bethlehem Greenway, which is about a ¼ mile walk from SteelStacks. As the group walks along the greenway, planners from the City of Bethlehem will describe its origins, communal and environmental benefits, and efforts to further integrate the greenway into the regional trail transportation network. The total walking distance of this tour will be approximately 1 ½ to 2 miles, over sidewalk and asphalt surfaces. 


Darlene Heller | Director of Planning & Zoning, City of Bethlehem 

Bio: Darlene Heller, AICP, Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Bethlehem, has been leading the city’s long range planning and development efforts since 2000. During her tenure Bethlehem has adopted its Trail Feasibility Study and Greenway Master Plan, developed the South Bethlehem Greenway and expanded and upgraded the Monocacy Way Trail. The Planning and Zoning Bureau supports neighborhood planning, historic preservation, development reviews, recreation planning, walkability and bikability and continues to incorporate sustainability and quality of life into all off its ongoing initiatives. In 2016 Ms. Heller received the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence for Professional Planner in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Thursday April 4 | Session III [3:30-4:30PM unless otherwise noted]

Land Protection Roundtable

The land protection and stewardship roundtable is open to people involved with acquiring and stewarding land and conservation easements. Meet colleagues and share techniques and experiences. Run problems by your peers. Registrants will have the opportunity to suggest priorities for discussion in advance of the conference.


Andy Loza | Executive Director, WeConservePA 

Bio: Andy Loza has served since 2000 as executive director of WeConservePA where he leads public policy efforts, plans and implements technical assistance and educational programs, writes and edits technical guidance, and directs a terrific staff. His work is informed by seven years as a land trust executive director and leading land use planning, environmental, conservation, and economic development, and trail initiatives for county government. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Lehigh University. 

Natural Burial: Connecting People with Land from Cradle to Grave

Natural (or green) burial is not a new concept.  As many know, it involves the burial of an unembalmed body, directly into the soil without a concrete vault, and in an entirely biodegradable casket or shroud.  What is new with this concept is that many of these “green cemeteries” are essentially nature preserves – nature preserves that just so happen to allow for these limited impact burials on the land.  Find out how natural burial can facilitate and complement the many goals of land preservation, including restoration, reforestation, and climate resiliency to name a few,  while generating significant income for the property and the organization at the same time.  Green burial is a logical complement to land preservation that provides value for the community in which it exists and furthers land management goals at the same time.  By combining open space with natural burial people can be in relationship with and connected to the land from “cradle to grave.” [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Carin Bonifacino | President, Friends of Green Burial PA, Friends of Green Burial PA

Bio: Carin has been an advocate of green burial since the early 2000’s and is excited to have the opportunity to reach more people with information about this after death alternative through Friends of Green Burial PA.   Carin spent the first half of her life working in horticulture and small-scale farming and, after two significant deaths in her family, decided to switch careers at mid-life.  After attending One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York, Carin became an ordained Interfaith minister in 2019 and now officiates funerals and memorial services for people from all walks of life. Carin frequently speaks on the topic of natural burial at libraries, schools, hospices, churches, and community groups, just to name a few, and loves to share information about its benefits to both people and the planet.

Personal Injury Liability: RULWA Provides Protection (CLE)

The Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (RULWA) offers protection from personal injury lawsuits to landowners and managers when public access is allowed without charge for recreational purposes. After recent amendments, the courts have begun to construe the law more broadly to recognize immunities even when the land in question has some amenities or improvements, such as playgrounds. Recent cases have dealt with government owned land (which has its own immunity statute that can be used in conjunction with the RULWA.) At the same time, it’s unclear whether the law does enough to protect volunteers or park friends’ groups, and amendments have been proposed to include them. 

Many are unaware of the protections afforded by RULWA and explaining that the law exists and how it works is sometimes necessary for landowners and land managers, and their advisors (attorneys or insurance agents) to feel comfortable in allowing for public use of their land for trails or recreation. Also, of concern to many landowners can be that even if they are successful in using RULWA, they may still be on the hook for attorney’s fees. By understanding the law, recent cases and amendments, and by identifying its remaining weaknesses, we will be better prepared to use the law better, and to be more effective in advocating for change. [Eligible for 1 CLE credit hour, substantive] [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Catherine “Kate” Harper | Partner, Timoney Knox LLP 

Bio: Catherine M. (Kate) Harper, a partner at Timoney Knox since 1997, was also a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in the House of Representatives, representing eastern Montgomery County for eighteen years. She chaired the House Local Government Committee. Ms. Harper has a general litigation practice, but focuses on land use (particularly municipal, conservation and zoning law) and real estate in Southeastern Pennsylvania. She handles commercial litigation, contract disputes and employment law matters for entrepreneurs, families and small businesses. She has argued before the United States Supreme Court, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, all of the Pennsylvania appellate courts and the county courts in southeastern Pennsylvania. Kate represents local governments, zoning boards and land development applicants. She also represents land trusts, landowners and conservancies in preservation projects and drafting and enforcing of conservation easements. 

Fostering Forest Bird Habitat and Ecosystem Resilience Through Management

In the right setting, forestry is a valuable tool to improve ecosystem health and function on conserved lands. The Foundation for Sustainable Forests (FSF) uses active management to restore or maintain forest resilience through activities such as the intentional opening of small gaps in a mature forest canopy, and the selection of trees for harvest that keep large, healthy trees in the forest while removing weaker or ailing trees to shed light on promising native regeneration.  For the past three years, National Aviary researcher Dr. Steve Latta has partnered with FSF to explore the impact of this uneven-aged management approach on two groups of birds of conservation concern – early successional species, and species requiring interior forest habitats.     

During this session, Dr. Latta will describe his bird study in FSF-managed forests and share findings after three years of study. The FSF team will provide an overview of their silviculture and the conservation objectives behind their approach, and offer tips for land trusts looking to implement forest management programs on their land. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Guy Dunkle | Director & Land Manager, Foundation for Sustainable Forests 

Bio: Guy Dunkle is a Land Manager and Director with the Foundation for Sustainable Forests, with over 19 years of experience practicing sustainable forestry across northwest PA and western NY. Guy coordinates the forestry and non-commercial stewardship of FSF’s forested lands, including overseeing the horse-logging crews and other aspects that are characteristic of FSF’s forestry. 

Steve Latta | Director of Conservation and Field Research, National Aviary 

Bio: Dr. Steven Latta is the Director of Conservation and Field Research at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. A native of Michigan, he was educated at Kalamazoo College (B.A.), University of Michigan (M.S.), and University of Missouri-Columbia (Ph.D. in Avian Ecology). After graduating in 2000, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he studied with Dr. Robert Ricklefs the evolution and diversification of avian malaria across Caribbean islands. He then served for four years as the Director of the Latin American Program at Point Reyes Bird Observatory in California, where he developed long-term monitoring programs in many countries, and trained hundreds of locally-based biologists and naturalists in standardized bird monitoring techniques. 

Annie Maloney | Executive Director, Foundation for Sustainable Forests 

Bio: Annie Maloney has worked with the Foundation for Sustainable Forests since 2016, beginning as a Conservation & Outreach Manager, and serving today as Executive Director. She holds a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University, and Ph.D. in Forest Ecology from Boston University, where her graduate research focused on interactions between climate change and industrial pollutants affect ecosystem nutrient cycling and long-term resilience of forests in the northeastern United States. Annie is a member of WeConservePA’s Policy Advisory Council. 

GIS Roundtable

Join fellow GIS staff to discuss current topics in conservation mapping and fieldwork. This informal session will be an opportunity for GIS users to “talk shop” with their colleagues. Discussion topics can be communicated to roundtable facilitators prior to the conference or suggested during the roundtable session. 


Megan Boatright | GIS Program Director, Natural Lands 

Bio: Ms. Boatright holds a Master of Arts in Geography from West Chester University and has been with Natural Lands Trust since 2007. Using GPS technology and Desktop GIS, she creates maps for conservation easements, land acquisitions, public visitation plans for Natural Lands’ preserves, and municipal planning. Recently, Megan has been working to provide Google Earth training to municipal officials and other conservation organizations in the region, and well as developing online mapping applications using ArcGIS Online and Google Maps. Her interest in conservation GIS began at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, where she received her B.A. in 2000. 

Irina Beal | GIS Analyst, WeConservePA 

Bio: Irina Beal joined WeConservePA in 2020. She creates, improves, and analyzes spatial data to support conservation-related efforts across Pennsylvania. Her many geographic information system-based projects include updating and improving WeConservePA’s statewide database of privately and publicly conserved lands. Prior to WeConservePA, Irina worked on living shorelines and shoreline monitoring projects in NJ and DE where long-term in situ data were collected allowing for trend analysis and calculating volumetric changes. She has her M.S. in Geology with a focus on Geomorphology from Temple University and her B.S. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine, Orono. She is well versed in field work, braving talus and scree slopes, ephemeral spits, and pluff mud. 

Cell Phones Aren't Going Away. So, Let's Use Them for Education & Conservation! [3:30-5PM]

In 2008, Richard Louv published the book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit. Louv makes the case for the importance of unstructured time in nature, with its restorative qualities, as critical for the health and wellbeing of children. He laments computer technology as it entices youth to stay indoors, and there is now ample evidence that too much screentime and social media impacts learning and mental health. For years after the book was published, educators in both formal and informal settings tried in vain to pull students away from their phones.  

Contrary to this, we have found that engaging students in citizen science using key cell phone apps in the field is an effective gateway to engage them in science. With some guidance, students can pursue lines of inquiry about ecosystems, biodiversity, phenology, and invasive species; understand the complications associated with analyzing data at different geographical and temporal scales; and incorporate critical thinking and applied ecology skills. Exposure to geospatial and citizen data allows students to not only develop confidence in their ability to do science, but also to tell the story of ecological processes within the social-economic context, consider how such data can help answer important scientific questions and assist with management of habitats and public lands, and to communicate to a broader public audience about their findings through social media. Increased awareness of environmental challenges and greater advocacy for conservation are side benefits of this!  

Working with the National Park Service, National Geographic, and colleagues from several universities, we have found that hand-held technology and relevant digital data also allow members of the public – from all age groups – to work with land managers, academics, and nonprofits to generate data and consider policy applications of this collective data, especially in areas of biodiversity and environmental change. 

In this session, some of these findings will be shared and then (weather permitting) participants will venture outdoors to learn how cell phone apps and digital data collection can be used to monitor landscapes (in urban or other environments) for biodiversity studies, pollinator activity, phenology, and invasive species. Participants should bring a small notebook and their cell phones that have the Merlin, eBird, iNaturalist (with the PA iMapInvasives project) and Seek apps downloaded. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Diane White Husic, PhD | Founding Dean fo the Center for Scholarship, Research, and Creative Endeavors  and Director, Environmental Studies and Sciences Program, Moravian University 

Bio: Dr. Husic has a B.S. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry (from Northern Michigan University and Michigan State University, respectively). Before becoming founding dean of the Center for Scholarship, Research, and Creative Endeavors at Moravian University, she served as dean for the School of Natural and Health Sciences at Moravian College, and before that, as chair of Biological Sciences. She also currently serves as the director for the Environmental programs at Moravian and is a senior fellow with the Global Council for Science and the Environment. She has taught courses on biochemistry, environmental science, conservation biology, sustainability, environmental health, and global climate change.  

Her research focuses on the ecological restoration of a contaminated site (the Palmerton Superfund site) and she is involved with ecological monitoring for climate change impacts along mountain landscapes in the portion of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania and in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem/Rocky Mountains. Through her work at the science-policy interface with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), she has brought delegations of students and faculty to the U.N. climate meetings in various countries on 4 continents since 2009 to develop global citizens who will help address our greatest challenges. She is an author on over 50 publications and has contributed to several reports – including a 200-page ecological assessment for a Superfund site and the 2011 PA Climate Change Adaptation report. She serves as a member of the steering committee for the international Research and Independent NGOs constituency group and various taskforces of the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee.   

In Pennsylvania, she works with nature centers and nonprofits to develop informal educational programming and finding unique ways to effectively communicate science to a general audience and engage the public in science and policy.  She earned a BS and PhD in Biochemistry (from Northern Michigan University and Michigan State University, respectively) She is president of the board for the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and serves on the board and chair of the conservation science committee for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. 

Thursday April 4 | Evening Reception and Dinner, Lifetime Conservation Leadership Awards 5-8PM

Reception, Dinner, Lifetime Conservation Leadership Awards

The Thursday evening reception and dinner will be held in the Moravian Ballroom of Wind Creek.  Dinner will include presentation of the 2024 Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award.  Not included with registration, tickets purchased separately. 

The Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to conservation in Pennsylvania over the course of their life.  Since its establishment in 2004, the award has honored both conservation professionals and volunteers for their commitment to and leadership in conservation.

Friday April 5

Friday April 5 | Mobile Seminars [times vary]

Delaware & Lehigh Trail System Bicycle Tour: Canal Park, Allentown to Hugh Moore Park, Easton [11AM-3PM]

REGISTRATION CLOSED. Email [email protected] to be added to the wait list.

Join Wildlands Conservancy in a biking tour of the historic Delaware and Lehigh trail system. This 10-mile ride along the D&L trail will begin at Sand Island in Bethlehem and end at Hugh Moore Park in Easton. The trail follows the towpath and provides a relatively flat and smooth, mostly gravel surface for biking. Participants will stop frequently along the trail for special guests to speak on topics such as history, conservation, and education. [Eligible for .25 PRPS CEUs]

Complete Required Waiver

Lunch will be held at the Charlie Brown Icehouse in Bethlehem, where bathrooms will also be available. Items like bottled water, a backpack, and closed toed shoes are highly recommended for this trip. Bicycles and Helmets are included. In the case of inclement weather, the workshop will be held as a walking tour at Hugh Moore Park.

Bike Route 

Participants will be dropped off at Sand Island in Bethlehem, and ride to Hugh Moore Park (10 miles). The trail follows the towpath and provides a relatively flat and smooth, mostly gravel surface for biking. At the conclusion of the ride, participants will be picked up at Hugh Moore Park 

Stops Include: 

  • Sand Island
  • Charlie Brown Icehouse 
  • Lock #41 and historic mule Barn
  • Rt 33 access point
  • National Canal Museum at the D&L National Heritage Corridor Headquarters (Hugh Moore Park)  

NOTE: Bicycles and helmets provided by Wildlands Conservancy. Limit, 20 participants. 


Chris Kocher | President, Wildlands Conservancy
Brit Kondravy | Conservation Coordinator, D&L National Heritage Corridor
Scott Slingerland | Executive Director, Coaltition for Appropriate Transportation
Martha Capwell Fox | Historian, D&L National Heritage Corridor 

Friday April 5 | Friday Seminars 8:30-10:30AM

Visual Storytelling: Take Photos That Inspire Action and Drive Your Mission Forward

As conservation organizations, the outcomes of our work are often extremely photogenic. We conserve forests, grasslands, and watersheds where native flora and fauna thrive. We create outdoor opportunities for passive recreation, environmental education, food growth, and more. Our work is natural, beautiful, and the stuff of dreams! How do we best capture and redistribute the beauty of our work to inspire our existing and potential audiences to take action?  

In part one of this two-part workshop, attendees will learn how Allegheny Land Trust utilizes photography in their visual storytelling to drive their strategic priorities, initiatives, and mission forward, will assess their own team’s talents to build a visual asset library. In a hands-on part two of the workshop, participants will receive guided instruction in making impactful imagery on their phones to share a story. We will also discuss how best to store visual assets for long-term use and sustainability. Participants should bring a fully charged phone and proper layers for the day’s weather. Tools reviewed will include: phone camera, SharePoint, google drive, phone storage systems, Instagram, Facebook. [Eligible for .2 PRPS CEUs]


Lindsay Dill | Senior Director of Marketing & Community Engagement, Allegheny Land Trust 

Bio: Lindsay Dill is Allegheny Land Trust’s Senior Director of Marketing & Community Engagement. She leads all marketing, communications, public relations, and community organizing activities to drive ALT’s strategic priorities, initiatives, and mission forward. In her free time, Lindsay can be found crafting personal photo and print projects, volunteering on her community board, and biking Pittsburgh’s stunning landscapes. The throughline of her personal and professional life is a propensity for capturing and portraying stories in visual mediums. 

Consider the "Why and How" for DEIJ in Your Organization

A few years ago, organizations had an increased level of passion and intensity around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) work. Progress has been made, though movement is often slow and other issues distract us. Diversifying staff and membership is critical and it must be done in an integrated and strategic manner – not to replace or oust the other pillars of DEIJ. In this session, panelists from different entities will share their experience carrying out organizational change within and beyond their respective roles and departments. Leaving room for dialogue, presenters will delve into the concourse of social justice and workforce development: from implementing equitable hiring practices, to carrying out inclusive outreach, to diversifying the board of trustees. [Eligible for .2 PRPS CEUs]


Keisha Scovens | Executive Director, Let’s Go 1-2-3 

Bio: Keisha Scovens currently serves as the Executive Director of Let’s Go 1-2-3, whose organizational mission is to alleviate barriers to outdoor experiences. Believing in the ability to move people from learning about a nature/recreation activity, to doing a hands-on outdoor experience, to then making a consistent connection to an environmental space, Keisha has dedicated the last 15 years to this work. Her efforts and measures of success with partnering people with nature-space locations has been an inspiration not only for herself, but for others doing environmental work. Keisha has spent the majority of her career working in K-12 educational settings, but had the opportunity to co-found Let’s Go Outdoors in 2010 with her twin sister, Tarsha. Keisha received her B.S. from Loyola University MD and her M.S. from Gallaudet University (yes, she is fluent in sign language). 

Arlene Marshall-Hockensmith | Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, PA DCNR 

Bio: Arlene joined DCNR in August 2023 as Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. In this role she collaborates closely with the Deputy Secretary, the Executive Staff, and agency DEIB team to incorporate the principles of DEIB into all aspects of the agency’s work and to increase and advance programs and services that serve all Pennsylvanians pursuant to Article 18, and Article 1, Section 27 of the Commonwealth’s Constitution. 

Prior to her role at DCNR, she served as Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Inc.’s (PLAN) first Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Joining PLAN Inc in 2014 as its Administrative Officer, her role included compliance monitoring of and reporting on PLAN network programs, reviewing grant documentation, conducting community diversity trainings and annual advocacy skills for new-to-practice attorneys and paralegals, supervising the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Internship and Fellowship Programs, and supporting PLAN’s Affinity and Professional Groups. As Director, she continued to oversee PLAN’s MLK programming, provided support to PLAN’s Affinity and Professional Groups, and provide support and guidance to PLAN, Inc. and network programs in developing a vision and strategy around incorporating DEIB in all parts of the network’s culture and operations-including hiring, retention, supervision, data collection analysis, advocacy, and communication. Over the years, she has presented at numerous local, state, and national conferences, Continuing Legal Education programs, and other trainings on substantive topics related to civil legal aid and diversity matters. 

Arlene received her J.D. from Widener Commonwealth Law School in 2006, and her B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University in 1998.

Doryán De Angel | Community Watershed Leader, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

Doryán started with Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) as an outstanding hands-on volunteer. For the past 9 years, she has worked with the Philadelphia Watershed Team to develop partnerships, and coordinate and organize programs and events in Tacony Creek Park, as part of TTF’s mission to connect communities to their creeks and engage and educate residents about watershed and stormwater issues. Born and raised in the tropics, she developed a love for the natural environment and received a bachelor’s in environmental science from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras. 

Tiffany Sowers, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | Vice President of Human Resources, Natural Lands

Tiffany joined Natural Lands in September 2022 as Vice President of Human Resources, a new role for the organization. With 20 years of experience and a strong belief that people should feel comfortable and valued while in the workplace, Tiffany works with employees and leaders on policy, communication, and strategy to create a culture of trust and transparency. Prior to her role with Natural Lands, Tiffany spent time supporting local government, and healthcare companies in the private sector. Tiffany has her B.A. in Psychology from Millersville University and her M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from West Chester University.

Tools for Shifting Board Culture in Favor of Fundraising

If your Board of Directors struggles with fundraising, or perhaps even with why getting involved with fundraising should even be necessary, you may have an issue with Board culture. You wouldn’t be alone. Board culture issues are very common and many of them involve issues with fundraising. Join fundraising expert David Allen, Development for Conservation, as we explore practical tools that can begin to change Board culture. We’ll look at conditions for success, structural ideas that can help, and communications needs. And we’ll save some time for dealing with specific circumstances. David has also agreed to be available throughout the conference if you want to pursue the ideas further. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but understanding HOW change does happen can help begin the process. [Eligible for .2 PRPS CEUs]


David Allen | Development for Conservation 

Bio: Development for Conservation assists conservation organizations raising money from individual donors by improving renewal, cultivation, and major gift systems. David Allen brings more than 30 years experience to the practice, including thirteen with The Nature Conservancy. He has devoted his professional career to helping conservation organizations and land trusts pursue excellence in all aspects of their conservation endeavors. David is a skilled seminar presenter, particularly in major gift fundraising. Specialties include development audits, board training, and campaigns. Working in collaboration with Consultant Nancy Moore, David also works on Strategic Planning, Organizational Needs Assessments, and Board Governance Training. Like his work in development consulting, David and Nancy work almost exclusively in the conservation space. 

Land Protection 101 (CLE)

New to land conservation? Whether you’re a new board member, staff, or volunteer, this session will bring you up to speed on land conservation concepts. Learn the basic tools of the trade – how land trusts responsibly acquire and steward land and easements. [Eligible for 2 CLE credit hours, substantive] [Eligible for .2 PRPS CEUs]


Dawn Gorham | Director of Land Preservation, Wildlands Conservancy 

Bio: Before joining Wildlands in summer 2015, Dawn was Executive Director of Pocono Heritage Land Trust. She was responsible for the planning and implementation of a comprehensive land conservation program, as well as the day-to-day management of the small land trust. Today, Dawn’s years of land conservation expertise are supporting Wildlands’ mission to protect critical natural areas and waterways. She resides in the Poconos. Education: Ph.D., Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry. 

Erin McCormick | Director, Conservation Easement Program, Natural Lands 

Bio: Erin is responsible for oversight and administration of Natural Lands’ easement program, including monitoring, enforcement, amendments, and engaging with easement landowners and partners. Erin has been with Natural Lands since 2006 and has also worked on securing easements and fee simple acquisitions in strategic landscapes throughout the entire Natural Lands’ service region in eastern Pennsylvania, consulting with municipalities on open space acquisition, and working on land transfers to government agencies. Prior to joining Natural Lands, she clerked for the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (now Earthrise Law Center) in Portland, Oregon, one of the leading environmental law clinics in the country. Erin received her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and is licensed to practice law in New Jersey. She has a B.A. in Biology from Rutgers College-Rutgers University. 

Greg Snyder | ARA – Accredited Rural Appraiser, Snyder Appraisal Associates 

Bio: Gregory L. Snyder, ARA, has 35 years agricultural and rural real estate valuation experience. Greg is president of Snyder Appraisal Associates, Inc., a Lancaster, PA based appraisal company founded in 2000. Greg’s work is focused on Conservation Easement appraisals, USFLA (Yellowbook) appraisals, IRS compliant appraisals for real property charitable contributions, as well as specialized agricultural and rural property valuation. Raised on a family farm in Lehigh County, PA, Greg graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a BS Degree in Animal Industries. He worked with Keystone Farm Credit for 14 years; first as a loan officer, then as a staff appraiser. Greg earned the Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation from the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. He has served as a past District 1 Vice-President, as well as a certified instructor for the ASFMRA. Greg is a member of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, an associate member of WeConservePA, and a professional member of the Land Trust Alliance. 

Friday April 5 | Session I [8:30-9:30AM]

Farm Succession: Soft Skills & Family Communications

Join us in this session to learn about farm succession, family communication skills, and free resources available to help facilitate farm succession conversations.  In this session, you will hear from PA Farm Link’s program development associate Tyler Hoffman who will provide an overview of farm succession planning, effective farm family communication tactics, resources available through PA Farm Link, and discuss farm succession scenarios.  [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Tyler Hoffman | Program Development Associate, Pennsylvania Farm Link 


Tyler Hoffman is the current program development associate for PA Farm Link.  She oversees event planning, marketing, community outreach, and fundraising efforts for the organization.  In addition to her role as program development associate, Tyler Hoffman is certified in farm succession facilitation planning through the International Farm Transition Network.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Penn State University. Prior to joining PA Farm Link, Tyler gained valuable agricultural experience through her time with Lancaster Farmland Trust as a land protection assistant. She was also the property manager of Whitetail Wetlands, a 500+ acre preserved farm with a bed & breakfast, located in Bedford County.

Trials and Triumphs in Ecological Restoration on Public Spaces

Wildlands Conservancy has been working for decades to bring together strong partnerships and diverse funding sources to improve natural resources on public open space. The main focuses in working on municipal parks and open space have been in establishing native riparian buffers along streams, converting turf grass or large areas of invasive species to meadow and grassland habitat, and restoring degraded streams. These projects offer an opportunity to provide model Best Management Practices for the community while providing ecosystem services and expanding recreational opportunities for the public. Wildlands has been successful in managing these projects – from securing funding, working with engineers and contractors on natural solutions, and implementing project plans. This helps to expand the work municipalities can accomplish with limited staff and resources and gives them direction for future management of these naturalized spaces. For this session, Wildlands Conservancy and Northampton County staff will discuss the process for these projects, the unique challenges in funding and implementing them, and successes in restoring and stewarding natural resources in public spaces. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Kate Ebel | Senior Restoration Ecologist, Wildlands Conservancy 

Bio: Kate holds a BS in Environmental Studies and Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont and an MS in Wildlife Biology & Conservation from Edinburgh Napier University. As the Senior Restoration Ecologist at Wildlands Conservancy, she has been working for the past 10 years to build strong partnerships to restore stream and wildlife habitat health throughout the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. These efforts have included large-scale stream and floodplain restoration, establishment of grassland and meadow habitat, riparian buffer restoration, invasive species management, and dam removal. 

Bryan Cope | Superintendent of Parks & Recreation, Northampton County 

Bio: Bryan is Superintendent of Parks & Recreation for Northampton County. In this role he is responsible for the preservation and development of over 2,300 acres of lands, manages an annual $4-million budget and supervises 35 full-time and part-time staff. With his time at Northampton County, he has assisted in the preservation of over 2,000 acres, raised over $3.6 million in grant funds, developed and rehabbed over 5-miles of regional trails and is undergoing a multi-year capital improvements program for the 2,300-acre park system. He served as the first Chair of the Scenic, Wild Delaware River Geotourism Program, an Advisory Board member for the September 11th National Memorial Trail, lead member of the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape and Chair of North Catasauqua Planning Commission. Over the past 18-years he has built partnerships with federal, state, local, educational, and non-profit entities to preserve lands, enhance the quality of life within the region and market an outdoor recreational economy.

Friday April 5 | Session II [9:45-10:45AM unless otherwise noted]

Building Partnerships, Increasing Stewardship Capacity, and Amplifying Conservation Through Birds [9:45-10:30AM]

Birds are excellent barometers of ecological change and indicators of environmental health, yet current research published in 2019, in the journal Science finds a net population loss of almost three billion birds since 1970. Land trusts are a proven mechanism to protect private lands, create climate resiliency in protected areas through stewardship, and conserve wildlife, including declining bird populations, within these habitats. 

This session will demonstrate how the Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative, coordinated regional efforts, and resources, such as the online bird checklist program eBird, eBird science data visualization products, and the Land Trust Small Grant Program, can substantially increase the impact and cost-effectiveness of land and bird conservation. We will introduce the Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative Mapping Tool, as not all conservationists, practitioners, and landowners have the capacity to use the program R to download eBird science data or the ability to manipulate modeled data for individual bird species or across habitat types for their work. This interactive decision support tool enables users to interact with eBird modeled abundance data combined with strategic land data layers to identify climate resilient lands critical for birds of conservation concern. Within this ArcGIS online platform a user can either download the bird data layers to use in their own projects or turn layers on and off that show highest value habitats to increase local and regional conservation impact, inform land planning, generate fundraising dollars and grant support, and bring birds into the picture when addressing ecological priorities and land conservation. 


Sara Barker | Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology 

Bio: Sara Barker is the program director for the Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative. She helps provide strategic planning, resources, technical assistance, planning tools, and funding opportunities to advance the pace and impact of land trust protection and stewardship efforts. She also assists land managers and practitioners in managing habitat for priority bird species and strives to build capacity for the land trust and private lands community around birds. 

The Land Conserved Over Time: Trends in Pennsylvania Land Protection

One in five acres of land in Pennsylvania has some level of permanent protection from development. But that land protection legacy goes back more than a century. What is the modern pace of land protection in Pennsylvania? More importantly, what does that land protection look like in terms of land use, ownership, and categories of protection? And where is it going in the future? This session will reveal trends in Pennsylvania land protection over the last thirty years. We’ll look at the pace of conservation and how it compares to broader conservation goals. We’ll also examine where and how conservation is happening, both in general and with an emphasis on publicly accessible land. 

The 60-minute session will pair 30 minutes of presentation with a 30-minute guided group discussion. The discussion will apply the data shared in the presentation to explore realistic land acquisition and conservation goals in the future. It will also examine how shifting priorities in the land protection community, such as an increased emphasis on diversity, might reshape how we think about future conservation projects. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Josh VanBrakle | Recreation and Conservation Program Specialist, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 

Bio: Josh VanBrakle is a recreation and conservation program specialist for DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. He coordinates bureau communications and manages conservation landscape grants. Josh previously worked as a GIS specialist at WeConservePA and as a research forester in the New York City Watershed. 

Nicole Faraguna | Director of Policy, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 

Bio: Nicole Faraguna has served as DCNR’s director of policy since August 2019. In that role she has led interagency initiatives, agency policy and regulatory processes, and DCNR’s federal policy priorities. Prior to taking this position, Nicole worked for over 14 years at WeConservePA in various roles. Most recently, she served as the organization’s director of education and advocacy and was instrumental in advocating for public policy in support of conservation and developing exceptional educational resources. Nicole previously served as director of communications for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs and editor of the Borough News Magazine. 

Friday April 5 | Session III [11AM-12PM]

Inspiration and Structure for Engaging and Effective Conservation Storytelling

Former English teacher (and current WeConservePA Communications staff) Robert Campbell presents a writing workshop focused on conservation communications. After a brief inspirational component designed to reconnect attendees with what inspired them to pursue a career in conservation, the session will focus on maximizing storytelling opportunities by focusing on communications best practices, such as: rhetorical strategies to engage the reader; maximizing statistics for impact; leveraging images to increase engagement; including powerful quotes from project stakeholders; and more. Attendees will leave the session refreshed and inspired with the fundamental tools they need to craft engaging and effective project press releases that enhance their organization’s brand with professionalism and polish. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Robert Campbell | Communications Specialist, WeConservePA 

Bio: A lifelong Pennsylvanian who’s always lived within the Susquehanna watershed, Robert (he-his) supports the broad-ranging efforts of WeConservePA through writing, editing, design, media management, and more. Prior to joining WeConservePA, Robert was a full time theatre artist and educator, teaching both Theatre Arts and English/Communications. He still pursues opportunities in those arenas as the calendar allows with 717 Arts and their partner organizations. He has a BA and M.Ed. from Penn State University and is an adjunct humanities faculty member in theatre at Penn State Harrisburg. Robert enjoys the beauty of Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation options most often through camping and hiking with friends and family near his current home city of Harrisburg. 

Land for People: Conservation and Affordable Communities (CLE)

Many Pennsylvania communities are experiencing a housing affordability crisis, brought on and worsened by an aging housing stock, slowed development, rising interest rates, and inflation. The outcomes for low-income families are especially acute. The environmental justice movement further highlights the need for development models that ensure access to clean air and open space for families at the economic margins. The crisis cuts across social, geographic, and political divides, and has drawn increased public and philanthropic attention. 

For a variety of reasons, conservation organizations may be interested in situating their missions within a broader context of social and racial justice, while promoting smart, resource-sensitive development practices. One possible avenue involves partnerships with affordable housing organizations to pair high-quality land conservation with affordable, equitable housing opportunities. 

This session will provide a brief overview of possible tools and mechanisms, including community land trusts, and an overview of national examples of successful projects and partnerships. [Eligible for 1 CLE credit hour, substantive] [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Justin Hollinger | Director of Conservation Law, WeConservePA 

Bio: Justin Hollinger joined WeConservePA in 2023. A member of the PA Bar, Justin provides legal resources to PA land conservation organizations. His projects include maintaining and updating WeConservePA’s library of model documents and resources, providing legal education, facilitating ongoing cooperation between land conservation attorneys and land conservation personnel, and providing direct legal services. Prior to joining WeConservePA, Justin represented Pennsylvania affordable housing nonprofits in complex real estate transactions. He received his J.D., summa cum laude, from Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Temple University. 

Essentials for Growing a Sustainable Planned Giving Program

Planned Giving thrives when seeds are planted early and consistently in fertile soil.  Gift Planning is frequently seen as being overly complex, expensive, and difficult.  This does not need to be the case.  The most successful Planned Giving prgrams are developed over an extended period of time. For those seeking to start or expand their efforts, for what are frequently the single largest gifts donors will ever make, this program will focus on the building blocks to educate, cultivate, and secure legacy gifts.   [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]

Together, we will explore questions like: 

  • How do I identify planned giving prospects? 
  • How do we best communicate gift options to prospective donors? 
  • How long should it take before we see results from our efforts? 
  • What does staffing look like to support a healthy planned giving program? 
  • How much does it cost to run an effective program? 
  • What preparation work would we need to consider before launching or expanding our program? 


Stephen Link | Director of Philanthropic Services, Cornerstone Advisors 

Bio: Steve joined Cornerstone in 2021 as Director of Philanthropic Services working with individuals and non-profit organizations. He assists individuals exploring the role of philanthropy in their overall financial plans, and helps charitable entities build effective planned giving programs. Steve began his career in 1985 with Price Waterhouse and then spent 30 years working predominantly in the area of gift planning, assisting donors in building strong financial foundations for higher education and health care. Steve is the past Senior Philanthropic Advisor for Georgetown University where he worked for 15 years. At Lehigh University, Steve served as Director of Principal Gifts and Assistant Treasurer over a 12-year career, before being named Vice President of Advancement for St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network. Over the past two decades, Steve served on the boards of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, Historic Bethlehem Partnership and Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra. In addition, Steve has spoken on aspects of gift planning and endowment management for a variety of organizations. Steve earned a B.S. in Accounting & Finance, and an M.B.A. from Lehigh University; and a M.A. in European Civilization from Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium. In his spare time, Steve enjoys running, cycling, travel, and nature. 

Property Review: Selection Standards & Criteria

Property review is an essential step in determining if a property is worth conserving, how it may rank in priority with other potential properties, and if a land trust has the capacity to take on a new project. The Land Trust Alliance’s Accreditation Standard #08 addresses Evaluating and Selecting Conservation Projects, with five practices to guide how to do so. With many opportunities to conserve land and limited wherewithal, review serves a pivotal role in prioritizing property acquisitions. It is up to the land trust to gauge each project’s conservation value, partnerships and support, fundability, stewardship capacity, and purpose. A wealth of data is available which can be used in the property review process, but selecting the appropriate criteria can easily become overwhelming. This presentation will review LTA Accreditation Standard #08 and demonstrate how two organizations approach new property inquiries differently through an established review process. The Allegheny Land Trust follows a multi-step process involving completion of a property inquiry form, initial property review, and project evaluation form. Similarly, Natural Lands’ multi-step project review process includes an initial landowner contact/intake form, preliminary yes/no desk review, and criteria evaluation. In the past year, Natural Lands has been working to revise its project selection criteria using GIS data compilations to more directly consider climate change resilience, biodiversity and habitat connectivity, risk of sprawl, and connecting underserved communities to nature. While these two processes take slightly different approaches, they both serve a critical role that best suits the organization when evaluating new projects. [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Casey Markle | Conservation Associate, Allegheny Land Trust 

Bio: Casey has been with the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) since 2022, taking the lead on inquiry response and property review for the organization. Casey also assists in land acquisition, coordinating due diligence efforts, ensuring adherence to national land trust accreditation compliance standards, supporting grant applications, and he is involved in multiple watershed research and water mitigation projects. Prior to working at ALT, Casey worked at Atlas Technical Consultants as a technical specialist conducting phase I environmental site assessments and field sampling. Casey is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, devoting much of his research to abandoned mine drainage and eutrophication. He has a multidisciplinary background in environmental education, laboratory and field analysis, and environmental consulting. 

Robyn Jeney | Land Protection Project Manager, Natural Lands 

Bio: Robyn joined Natural Lands in 2019 as a Land Protection Project Manager. She is engaged primarily in land and conservation easement acquisitions. Prior to joining Natural Lands, Robyn was a Resource Planner with the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, where she administered the Commission’s land acquisition grant program and managed the implementation of roadside habitat mowing and maintenance practices. Robyn has undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Philosophy from the Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Resource Management from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Methods to Identify Pollinator Conversion Projects: A Case Study Converting Mowed Grasses to Meadows

North American Land Trust (NALT) holds more than 560 conservation easements nationwide, protecting more than 137,000 acres in 24 states, headquartered in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Join us as a member of NALT’s staff takes an in-depth look, depicting how a 30-year, nationwide land trust takes innovative approaches to steward a diverse conservation easement portfolio. Habitat loss, habitat connectivity, urban sprawl, and climate change continue to wreak havoc on our landscapes. Species decline is evident all around us, and some species battle foreseen extinction, specifically the monarch butterfly. NALT is partnering with the PA DCNR to present useful programs that other land trusts can present to their landowners to enhance the quality of their habitat. This in-depth look shows how you can take action to halt the trend of lawnscapes on eased property and municipal lands, receiving technical guidance and the know-how to confidently create pollinator habitat! [Eligible for .1 PRPS CEUs]


Wyatt Moyer | Environmental Scientist, North American Land Trust 

Bio: Wyatt Moyer is an Environmental Scientist at North American Land Trust (NALT). Wyatt is responsible for all of NALT’s Conservation Easement monitoring in the northeast, monitoring 120+ easements across 9 states, totaling more than 9,150 acres. Wyatt also works as the preserve manager for NALT’s Brinton Run Preserve. Wyatt obtained, both, his B.S. in Geography; Environmental Studies and Sustainability and his M.S. in Park and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  Upon graduation, Wyatt worked for the Student Conservation Association, creating new public trails throughout southeast Alaska. During that time, he also assisted the Bureau of Land Management in erosion control and habitat restoration projects. Wyatt went on to work for the State University of New York (SUNY) research team, serving as an Environmental Educator, spreading awareness about Aquatic invasive species, and conducting surveys of recreational boaters. This work was completed before he landed at NALT, 3 years ago. 

Teddi Stark | Watershed Forestry Program Manager, DCNR, Bureau of Forestry 

Bio: Teddi Stark is the Watershed Forestry Program Manager with DCNR Bureau of Forestry. Teddi helps to develop strategies for scaling-up riparian forest buffer and lawn conversion implementation work in PA. The purpose of the Watershed Forestry program is to improve water quality in PA while simultaneously realizing the many co-benefits of reforesting streamsides and converting mowed grass lawns to new forests or native meadows.  Teddi lives in Harrisburg with her husband and two dogs and enjoys hiking and traveling with them whenever she is not working. 

Friday April 5 | Session IV [1-2:30PM unless otherwise noted]

Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscapes Across Pennsylvania and the Northeast

The federal government recognizes Native American Ceremonial Stone Landscapes (CSLs) as significant archaeological sites across the nation. Yet, here in the Northeast, most people—including natural and cultural resource management professionals—know little about them. Oftentimes, the constructed stone features that make up these landscapes are misidentified as farm clearing practices and are subsequently destroyed to make way for land development projects. In eastern PA, thousands of anomalous stone constructions—stone rows, walls, and piles of stacked stones—are found in woodlands and wetlands and on steep hillslopes and mountainsides where they do not fit any Euro-American land use practice or paradigm. Many of these CSLs are found on conserved lands, where they are protected in perpetuity; yet many are not. These stone structures, built by Indigenous people centuries and millennia ago, add a raw, often artistic and sometimes surreal beauty to the natural landscapes on which they are found. 

Since 2020, the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA) has collaborated with the PA State Historic Preservation Office (PASHPO) to begin mapping, documenting, and recording CSLs in the PA Archaeological Site Survey—the Commonwealth’s statewide archaeological database. In that time, PASHPO has recorded several CSLs that include hundreds of constructed stone features in Berks and Northampton counties. In 2018, NEARA initiated a luminescence dating project in the Northeast, including eastern PA. Luminescence dating is a scientific method used to estimate the age of sediments by determining how long-ago mineral grains were last exposed to daylight. By analyzing sediments taken from within or immediately beneath a constructed stone feature, a date for the construction of that feature can be reliably estimated. A stone structure at a CSL in Berks County was estimated to have been built about 570 BC and another in Northampton County—where the 2024 PA Land Conservation Conference is being held—was estimated to have been built about 2610 BC. This conference session will focus on the identification of CSLs, their physical characteristics, relationships to the cosmos, connections with Indigenous worldviews and sacred stories, dating their construction and the need for professional archaeologists, conservationists, and regulatory officials to identify, catalog and preserve these objects of living history and their sacred stone landscapes. [Eligible for .15 PRPS CEUs]


Laurie Rush | Anthropologist & Archaeologist, US Army 

Bio: Dr. Laurie Rush is an anthropologist and archaeologist who has served as a US Army civilian for 20 years managing cultural resources at Fort Drum, NY. She and her team are responsible for identifying and protecting all of the important archaeological sites at Fort Drum and managing the LeRay Mansion Historic Site. Dr. Rush has a BA from Indiana University Bloomington, an MA and PhD from Northwestern University and is a Fellow of the National Science Foundation and the American Academy in Rome. Her research specialty is Native Americans of northeastern North America and she serves as Native American Affairs Liaison for the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum. With the assistance of Tony Aveni, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology and Native American Studies, Emeritus, Dr. Rush and her team at Fort Drum mapped and documented a significant Ceremonial Stone Landscape (CSL) located in northern NY, to include C-14 dates for fires occurring at the site ranging in age from 3200 BP to 1100 BP. The team also tested the site at the Colgate Planetarium, taking a group of indigenous elders and archaeologists back in time to experience the astronomical events that occur along the alignments. 

Since that time, Dr. Rush’s team has mapped and documented an additional CSL at Fort Drum and they have incorporated identification and mapping of anomalous stone features as a component of their archaeological survey work. Dr. Rush has also consulted on a CSL at a former NIKE Missile site in Rhode Island, working in collaboration with officers from the Air National Guard, along with representatives of the Narragansett, Mohican, and Wampanoag Nations. In 2015, Dr. Rush co-organized a conference at the University of Pennsylvania titled, Interpreting the Past: Ceremonial Stone Landscapes of the Northeast, which featured discussions investigating stone landscapes in the Northeast, identification of heritage and sacred sites, the need for documentation, dating and GIS analysis and models for strong academic and collaborative projects in the US. Most recently, Dr. Rush contributed a chapter to the book, Our Hidden Landscapes: Indigenous Stone Ceremonial Sites in Eastern North America, by Lucianne Lavin and Elaine Thomas, which is currently in press. Dr. Rush has been recognized by the media as a modern Monuments Woman, is featured in the book Lives in Ruins and received the Archaeological Institute of America 2019 Award for Public Service. 

Jim Wilson | Parks Recreation Specialist, Northampton County Department of Parks and Recreation and PA State Chapter Coordinator, New England Antiquities Research Association

Bio: Jim Wilson is a recreation specialist with the Northampton County Parks and Recreation Department in Easton, PA. He has worked in the fields of outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation for more than 30 years. Jim first became interested in Ceremonial Stone Landscapes (CSLs) in the late 1990s, after attending a slide-illustrated presentation on the subject by local stoneworks enthusiast Fred Werkheiser from Northampton County. Over the past 25 years, Wilson has read many books and articles on the topic, attended lectures and conferences on the subject, has been shown many stonework sites by Werkheiser and others and has located a few himself, sometime based on historical source documentation, like sketch maps and recorded site locations. 

More recently, Jim joined and became active with the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA), whose purpose is to promote research into the origins and functions of these enigmatic constructed stone landscapes throughout northeastern North America. Over the past four years, Wilson has coordinated and conducted visual field surveys of CSLs with PA State Historic Preservation Office archaeologists and NEARA volunteers. These surveys have resulted in a number of constructed stone landscape sites added to the PA Archaeological Site Survey, which is the Commonwealth’s official archaeological database. In 2018 and 2021, Wilson helped coordinate sampling of constructed stone landscape features in eastern Pennsylvania for luminescence dating. Those dates range from 1740 AD to 2610 BC. Jim helped organize NEARA’s Spring 2023 Conference in Matamoras, PA. This was the first conference ever held by NEARA in Pennsylvania in the organization’s 60 year-history. Wilson has been active with NEARA since 2017 and currently serves as the organization’s PA State Chapter Coordinator. 

Capital Campaigns Can Be Fun!

If you are thinking that a capital campaign might be in your future sooner or later, NOW might be a good time to learn about campaigns and how they work. Join fundraising expert David Allen, Development for Conservation, as we dissect capital campaigns and show how all the parts and pieces work together. There are good reasons to do a campaign. There are good reasons not to do one. We will talk about both. Then we’ll explore how Feasibility Studies work, how campaigns are structured, the need for recognition strategies, the role and cost of consulting help, campaign timelines, and budgets. You will learn what to put in place before considering a campaign as well as some general conditions for success. [Eligible for .15 PRPS CEUs]


David Allen | Development for Conservation 

Bio: Development for Conservation assists conservation organizations raising money from individual donors by improving renewal, cultivation, and major gift systems. David Allen brings more than 30 years’ experience to the practice, including thirteen with The Nature Conservancy. He has devoted his professional career to helping conservation organizations and land trusts pursue excellence in all aspects of their conservation endeavors. David is a skilled seminar presenter, particularly in major gift fundraising. Specialties include development audits, board training, and campaigns. Working in collaboration with Consultant Nancy Moore, David also works on Strategic Planning, Organizational Needs Assessments, and Board Governance Training. Like his work in development consulting, David and Nancy work almost exclusively in the conservation space. 

Navigating the Federal Tax Maze: Latest Cases and Trends (CLE)

This session will cover current notable U.S. Tax Court and Circuit Court of Appeals legal decisions that affect charitable conservation contributions.  

The IRS, in its focus on shutting down a tax avoidance scheme, known as “syndicated conservation easements,” has employed diverse, and at times unpredictable, legal arguments with varying success in its enforcement efforts. But these efforts are also resulting in unintended adverse impacts to legitimate easement donations – so-called “collateral damage.” These unintended adverse impacts to legitimate charitable conservation contributions include rejecting well-settled, industry-standard land conservation practices creating uncertainty for land trusts and donors. An estimated 700-1200 conservation easement donation cases (many are being consolidated) are currently docketed in the U.S. Tax Court. In the hundreds of cases pending in Tax Court, the rules governing conservation donations are under constant review and subject to change. And with the backlog in the court docket, deciding these cases will last most likely through the end of the decade.  

Hot topic areas include IRS challenges to conservation purposes, reserved rights (agriculture, forestry, mineral rights), baseline documentation reports, and extinguishment and proceeds clauses – illustrated by several cases. The presentation will dive into the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, case law, and IRS arguments. By analyzing the legal arguments and takeaways, land trusts and their attorneys can determine their risk tolerance in light of the IRS challenges. Each of these legal tax trends will then be applied through a legal lens to the work of Pennsylvania conservation organizations and the state’s model documents. The presentation will offer considerations for reducing future risk. [Eligible for 1.5 CLE credit hours, substantive] [Eligible for .15 PRPS CEUs]


Diana Norris | Conservation Defense Network & Tax Manager, Land Trust Alliance 

Bio: Diana Norris, Esq. works as the Land Trust Alliance’s Conservation Defense Network & Tax Manager. She oversees legal educational resources; a national network of land conservation experts; and the Alliance’s response to federal tax issues. She plays a critical role in assessing new tax-related challenges, leading brief writing teams and collaborating with Government Relations and Educational Services. 

Diana holds degrees from Cornell University, American University and the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University. She started her legal career in private practice as Associate Attorney in the law offices of Georgia H. Herbert in The Plains, Virginia and then served for eight years as In-House Counsel at The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), a land trust and advocacy organization headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia. In that role, she addressed the organization’s risk management and legal issues including defending against policy and on-the-ground challenges to the validity of and stewardship of conservation easements. She coordinated the legal defense of the organization and its land conservation interests and represented PEC on conservation and land use legislative matters on local and state levels. 

Debra Wolf Goldstein | Founder, Conservation Matters, LLC 

Bio: Debra Wolf Goldstein, Esq., is founder of Conservation Matters, LLC, a law firm providing legal, policy, and strategic planning services to municipalities, landowners, and organizations in the land conservation field. Debra began her legal career as an attorney with Wolf Block in their litigation, real estate, and environmental departments. She served as Regional Advisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, overseeing park, recreation, and natural areas grants for southeastern Pennsylvania. She served as General Counsel to the Heritage Conservancy and executive director of Delaware Canal 21.  

Debra chaired the Land Use Committee of Philadelphia’s Commission on Parks and Recreation and previously was vice president of the Fairmount Park Commission for over a decade. She’s written numerous scholarly and popular publications and guides on open space, trail and recreational liability issues; hosted a public television show about sustainability; and has taught courses for state and national audiences relating to conservation easement enforcement, appraisals, record keeping, and conflicts of interest. Debra holds a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and graduated with a B.A. from Brown University. She recently was awarded PennFuture’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement in Conservation award. 

The Three Ps of Proactive Communications: Small Team Strategies for Effective Storytelling

Telling stories is how we share our work. The threads of these stories are woven into how we talk to partners, volunteers, funders and even ‘potentials,’ the people who don’t yet know us, but realize after hearing our stories that we’re exactly who they’ve been looking for.  Without a sustainable strategy, communications can be a scramble that leads to frustrated staff and missed opportunities.  

Proactive Communications is built for small teams to do three things:  

  1. build a practical plan based on the capacity of your team, 
  2. center it around the people who are the heartbeat of your organization, and
  3. create a repeatable process that works. 

Set it up once and follow the plan. It’s simple by design so you can focus on amplifying your stories, elevating your work, and expanding your circle of support.   

Key Takeaways: 

  • Understand the Three Ps of Proactive Communication
  • Optimize limited staff and resources by engaging your community
  • Know who and where your audience is
  • Master the art of asking for help
  • Organize a plan that works for you 

Proactive Communications is structured for consistency and flexible enough to be nimble and responsive. It helps you construct a cache of evergreen content to use again and again. And it’s easily transferable between staff to accommodate seasonal conflicts, personnel changes, and shifts in responsibilities. It’s time for communications to be fun again! [Eligible for .15 PRPS CEUs]


Kelly McGinley | Principal, Function & Flow 

Bio: Kelly has spent the last 25 years designing and building programs, partnerships, and place-based projects for non-profits at the regional, state, and national level. She has worked alongside incredible staff and volunteers on multi-state collaborative initiatives at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Audubon. Kelly is a professional member of the National Association of Productivity and Organization Professionals (NAPO) where she serves on the Education Advisory Committee, a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and a certified coach.  

She has worked with and consulted for organizations of all sizes and scopes, but her heart has always been in the non-profit world helping small teams do big things. She values relationships as the core element of strong and effective teams. And understanding that has opened doors for her to connect classrooms to communities; design planning and productivity strategies for agencies, corporations, and non-profits; and turn a maximum-security cell block into an award-winning, tail-wagging incubator for compassionate change at the HOPE Dogs Program. She started Function & Flow to focus on people and project management, helping teams and organizations work better, smarter, and more effectively…together. In short, to Do Productivity Differently. 

Jeanne Ortiz | Regional Advisor, PA DCNR 

Bio: Jeanne is a Regional Advisor for the PA DCNR covering Philadelphia, Bucks, and Delaware counties. Priority to DCNR, she worked at Audubon Mid-Atlantic managing the 185-mile Kittatinny Ridge Conservation Landscape (KRCL), one of eight DCNR conservation landscapes. Her previous experience also includes managing the Environmental Advisory Council program for the PA Environmental Council; a nationwide Buy Fresh Buy Local program for the FoodRoutes Network; and neighborhood economic development and adult education programs for The Lighthouse, a settlement house, in north Philadelphia.  She organized Health Councils in Philadelphia public schools for the Food Trust and was a planner for the Chester County Planning Commission, West Chester, PA, and Tompkins County Planning Department, Ithaca, NY.   

Jeanne has a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; a Bachelor of Science Degree from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN; and a Paralegal Associate’s Degree from Vincennes University, Vincennes, IN. She received PennFuture’s 2023 “Woman of Environmental Education” award; co-founded the award-winning Wissahickon Sustainability Council in Philadelphia; and is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program. In her spare time, Jeanne works enjoys hiking, cycling, gardening, and cheering on the Phillies. 

Kristen Hand | Geoscientist Supervisor, Internal Lead Kittatinny Ridge Conservation Landscape, Strategic Studies Section, Pennsylvania Geologic Survey, PA DCNR 

Bio: Ms. Hand is currently the Section Chief for the Stratigraphic Studies Section within the Mapping Division at the Pennsylvania Geological Survey. Ms. Hand’s twenty year career has given her the opportunity to wear many hats throughout the Department. Over the years she has held the title of Local Government Outreach Geologist, Educational Outreach Geologist, DCNR Education and Outreach Coordinator, Field Mapping Geologic Scientist and now Geologist Supervisor. Ms. Hand has published four times for the Pennsylvania Geological Survey and once for the Journal of Paleontology. She is the Chair of the Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists an annual conference exploring local geology with 200 geologists at a different chosen location across Pennsylvania for the past 85 years. She is also the Internal Lead for the Kittatinny Ridge Coalition Conservation Landscape, an organization dedicated to preserving land along Pennsylvania’s most climate resilient landscape and promotes balanced economic growth, land conservation, and recreation opportunities along the ridge. 

Christine Proctor | Conservation Director, Audubon Mid-Atlantic

Christine Proctor brings over two decades of experience in conservation and geospatial research to her role as Audubon Mid-Atlantic’s Director of Conservation. Christine works with the Forest, Coastal, and Baltimore programs to improve natural resource connectivity, climate resiliency, and bird habitat across the landscape. In partnership with each program, she coordinates the monitoring and evaluation of program activities to measure impact on birds and communities. Prior to joining Audubon, Christine established the Environmental Science and Sustainability Program at Harrisburg University. While there, she worked with several government agencies and conservation non-profits to develop novel uses of technology for monitoring cryptic species and investigated the legacy impact of redlining on urban heat index values in Harrisburg, PA.

Photo Credits and Permissions, Agenda Page:
Sherry Acevedo, Cristina Byrne, Wildlands Conservancy, Heritage Conservancy, Natural Lands, Northampton County, Wind Creek.