Asbury Woods Announces Completion of Capital Campaign and Nature Center Redidication
Asbury Woods is pleased to announce the successful completion of the Preserving a Legacy Capital Campaign. The campaign was launched in 2015 and raised $5.2 million, surpassing the goal of raising $4.5 million to protect Asbury Woods now and into the future.
Asbury Woods’ Preserving a Legacy Capital Campaign, which began in 2015, was launched with the goal of raising $4.5 million to fund the acquisition of Asbury Woods from the Millcreek Township School District, to fund much needed capital projects, such as the replacement of the Boardwalk by the Nature Center, and to fund an endowment to help offset the annual costs of becoming the direct stewards of the Woods. With the help of Millcreek Township, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through DCNR and DCED, the County of Erie, the Erie Community Foundation, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, widespread corporate support from entities such as Erie Insurance and numerous contributions from private foundations, such as the Peterson Foundation and the Kern Family Foundation and individuals, the Asbury Woods Partnership, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has ensured the preservation of Asbury Woods for generations to come.
“The generosity of our supporters is amazing! We are grateful to the many donors who shared our vision for Asbury Woods and who believed that preserving Asbury Woods for generations to come was important for this community," said Mark Shaw, Esq., a partner at the law firm of MacDonald Illig, who served as Campaign Chair. “Thanks to the dedicated work by our capital campaign committee, our Honorary Chair Nancy Kern, and our board members, we not only reached our
Major gifts to the campaign include $1.5 million in government grants from DCNR, Millcreek Township, Erie County, DCED and Erie County for the land purchase and a gift in excess of $1 million from Andrew J. Conner, which constitutes the largest private gift in Asbury Woods’ 61-year history. The rest was privately funded by leading philanthropists, foundations, corporate donors and individuals.
“When we first met with Andy to discuss his interest in Asbury Woods, it was obvious that he understood the important role that Asbury Woods plays in the education of thousands of students throughout the region. Our subsequent discussions have simply served to reinforce Andy's belief in the important role Asbury Wood plays in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering
The Nature Center at Asbury Woods was rededicated during the Preserving a Legacy Capital Campaign celebration reception on October 9, 2018. During the reception the new signs purchased from the campaign were unveiled, honoring the benefactor’s gift. The Andrew J. Conner Nature Center at Asbury Woods is the cornerstone of Asbury Woods’ educational programming, providing animal exhibits, a touch-and-learn Discovery Classroom, student access to scientific instruments and free public access.
“I consider being able to make this gift to Asbury Woods one of the luckiest days of my life,” remarks Andrew Conner. “My father was the Chair of the Millcreek School board and instrumental in the conversations with Otto Behrend about the donation of his property to the Millcreek Township School District. My father believed the Asbury Woods property to be the crown jewel of Northwestern Pennsylvania and through Otto’s
Andy Conner is a retired trial attorney who helped found the Erie law firm Conner Riley Friedman & Weichler. Andy is a graduate of McDowell High School where he was a standout athlete as
Contributions to the Preserving a Legacy Capital Campaign enabled Asbury Woods to purchase the Asbury Woods property from Millcreek Township School District in June 2016 at a total cost of $1,557,876. Additionally, projects that have been completed using the capital campaign funds have enabled Asbury Woods to make the transition to full ownership of the property and to better position Asbury Woods to continue serving our mission. Completed projects include:
- Repair and upgrade to the historic farmhouse adjacent to Brown’s Farm. This house was built in 1910. Upgrades to plumbing, electrical and gutters along with repairs to the foundation
hasallowed Asbury Woods to use this as an Intern House. The ability to offer housingto long-term interns has allowed Asbury Woods to expand their internship program.
- Purchase of a truck, snow plow and salt spreader to handle snow removal which was previously handled by the school district
- Purchase of a phone system, IT hardware and computer server which was previously taken care of by the school district
- Maintenance of the Nature Center’s Geothermal system, a key part of the overall green building design
Overallmarketing plan that included new logos for branding and newwebsite
- Various maintenance projects such as parking lot sealing, systems repairs, reflashing the chimney, and other items that had been neglected
Additional improvements are in the works for 2019. To better serve the needs of all members of the community, Asbury Woods plans to replace a 1,700-foot stretch of the boardwalk, which has not been renovated in more than 25 years. As part of the
The success and completion of this campaign will position Asbury Woods for an even greater future. The campaign joined many diverse community members together under the unifying goal of protecting Asbury Woods now and into the future. Although the capital campaign is concluded, potential donors are still welcome to make naming gifts to link their names to gardens, trails, programs and staff positions that are important parts of Asbury Woods.
ABOUT ASBURY WOODS
The mission of Asbury Woods is to provide all members of the community with meaningful environmental, educational and recreational experiences that inspire a greater sense of environmental awareness, sustainability, and stewardship.
Asbury Woods achieves this mission through a diverse array of educational, environmental and recreational programming for schools, community groups, families and individuals of all ages. In addition, they manage and maintain 205 acres of preserved property which includes native species, old-growth forests, landscaped gardens, wetlands, boardwalk trails, and dirt trails.
The Andrew J. Conner Nature Center at Asbury Woods is the cornerstone of the educational programming, providing animal exhibits, a touch-and-learn Discovery Classroom, and free public access. The Brown’s Farm Barn located on Sterrettania Road provides additional programming space for summer camps, school visits, and community programs. The Greenway Trail at Asbury Woods consists of adjacent tracts of land which provides a network of trails connecting Browns Farm and the Nature Center. The Greenway Trail provides ample recreational opportunities for hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing and wading in Walnut Creek. Trail users will find peaceful spots to rest and relax to take in the serene vistas.
Asbury Woods is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is made possible by funding from program and service fees, grants, special events and generous donations from members and patrons. Annually, Asbury Woods positively impacts more than 100,000 people who use the trails, attend festivals or participate in education and community outreach programs.