Institute purchases 40-acre property for future nature center and launches capital campaign

Institute purchases 40-acre property for future nature center and launches capital campaign

The Institute has purchased a 40-acre rural property in Washington Township, Pa., a few minutes drive from downtown Waynesboro. 

Formerly based at Renfrew Museum and Park, an unexpected disruption compelled The Institute to leave that property—its home for 30 years—in 2020. 

“Since 1990, The Institute has engaged learners of all ages,” said Tracy Holliday, Institute executive director. “We are thrilled to announce the purchase of this extraordinary property, and can’t wait to welcome everyone to our new educational center with continued and expanded programming in nature-based experiences, cultural history and the arts.”

The nonprofit organization is launching the public phase of a $3 million capital campaign to transform the new property into an independent nature education center and living classroom, providing a hub from which it will serve the community. 

The Institute has already raised nearly $2.4 million toward their goal. A cornerstone gift of $500,000 from the Nora Roberts Foundation (NRF) allowed The Institute to acquire the property. 

“We believe an important part of our mission means supporting organizations that help create a beautiful, equitable, and safe world,” said NRF executive director and treasurer, Jason Aufdem-Brinke. “The Institute offers programs meeting this high standard by encouraging children and adults to co-exist and connect with nature. The Nora Roberts Foundation believes in The Institute’s goals, and we’re proud to support them.”

The Institute’s own staff, board, and campaign committee members have invested in the project with gifts totaling more than $500,000. Other leadership gifts were received from Tom Beck; George Buckey, in memory of Martha Buckey; Marge Kiersz; the Mummert Family Foundation; the Paul K. and Anna E. Shockey Family Foundation; and the Waynesboro Beneficial Fund.

“We are grateful for our leadership gifts, which have been crucial in building the foundation of the campaign,” Holliday said. “We’re fortunate to have a broad base of support, with nearly 100 gifts in place. About $625,000 remains to be raised. We know the community will want to help us reach and exceed our goal of $3 million.”

“We have worked to develop a vision of our new organizational headquarters and funds raised in the capital campaign will help to make the vision a reality,” said Jim Fleagle, Institute board president. “Our campaign co-chairs, Jeremy Bowersox and Bob Zimmerman have led the way, supported by a fundraising committee comprised of several community leaders.”

The property features a large pond, rolling meadows, a farm with a century-old barn, shaded creeks and wetlands, and woodland trails. The park-like setting will become a community resource—a place to enjoy outdoor recreation, nature, and the arts.

Work will be done in three phases. The first phase is to establish an administrative headquarters that will also function as a welcome center for the public. At the same time, a new bridge will be built for buses and other large vehicles, along with grounds and infrastructure improvements. Plans also call for renovation of the vintage barn into an adaptable education and visitors center boasting a contemporary, environmentally-sensitive design while preserving original features.

Additional projects include construction of an outdoor pavilion for gatherings; enhancement and expansion of nature trails throughout the property; and various infrastructure improvements, including outdoor lighting, parking, and accessible outdoor restroom facilities, all incorporating environmental sustainability features.

Small-scale activities are already underway at the property, and it will be fully open to the public upon completion of the bridge. 

The Institute exists to educate, inspire and unite people around shared interests,” Holliday said. “We made a commitment to establish an independent nature center that will serve as an organizational headquarters and community hub for the next 30 years and beyond.” 

“With support from our community, we have navigated the past couple of years with great success,” she added. “Instead of slowing down, we ramped up our activities, expanding programming and events for students from public, private, and faith-based schools, the home educator community, and the general public. With our new home on this special property, our activities and community outreach will only increase. With continued community support, we can bring this fabulous amenity to life.” 

The Institute is seeking contributions from the community. Donations may be made by check, payable to The Institute and mailed to: P.O. Box 971, Waynesboro, PA 17268. 

Multi-year pledges are welcome, as are gifts of stock and IRA required minimum distributions. Payments may be made by check, securities, or credit card. For more information—or to arrange a private guided tour of the property—contact The Institute at 717-762-0373 or via email:

Please also visit to learn more, or to make a donation to the capital campaign.

Renfrew Institute Presents Down A Garden Path for Kids

Renfrew Institute Presents Down A Garden Path for Kids

Children are invited to explore Renfrew Institute’s four-square garden in the Summer Institute program, “Down a Garden Path.” The program, designed for children completing grades K–3, will be held from 9:30–11 a.m. on Thursday, July 18 at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro.

Renfrew Institute’s garden expert, Doris Goldman, will guide children as they look for hidden treasures and hunt for butterflies.

“Join in the fun as we harvest, plant seeds and discover ladybugs and other garden critters,” Goldman said. “Take home your own mini-garden and a garden craft, and learn to ‘make rain’ with watering bells. We’ll water, dig, pick and play!”

Kids should wear shoes and clothes that can get dirty.The cost is $4 per child for Renfrew Institute members, and $5 per child, non-members. Pre-registration not required, and participants should arrive 15 minutes early to register at the Visitors Center.

Underwriting support for this program provided by Max Creager, in memory of Nancy Hess Creager, and by Today’s Horizon Fund donors: The Nora Roberts Foundation; The John R. Hershey Jr. and Anna L. Hershey Family Foundation, APX Enclosures, Inc.; and The Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin. Facility support is courtesy of Renfrew Museum and Park.

This program is part of Renfrew Institute’s “Summer Institute.” Information about additional summer programs for youth is available at

Parking is available behind the visitors center, or in Renfrew’s lower lot off Welty Road. In case of rain or for more information, please call the Institute at 717-762-0373.

Renfrew Institute in Waynesboro Seeks Educators

Renfrew Institute in Waynesboro Seeks Educators

Renfrew Institute is hiring two educators for environmental and history school programs.

Overview :  Renfrew Institute is a non-profit organization serving the region with outdoor programming in environmental education, interpretation of a historic Pennsylvania German farmstead and a wide variety of family events. Activities are conducted on the site of Renfrew Museum and Park. Renfrew Institute operates independently from Renfrew Museum and Park.

The mission of the Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies is to guide the people of the Cumberland Valley region to become stewards of their natural and cultural worlds. To achieve its mission, the Institute:

  • provides environmental and cultural education to elementary and secondary school children
  • supports and conducts research about natural and cultural history,
  • provides opportunities for adults to learn about the nature and culture of the region and the world
  • presents programs that inform and entertain the community.

Position Summary:  The Environmental & Historical Studies Educator is a dynamic and energetic individual, with proven experience leading programs for school children. The educator will be responsible for the delivery of environmental and cultural history programs, pre-K through middle school. Position is part-time, seasonal. Educators are expected to teach up to 5 days/week (as needed) during the fall and spring teaching seasons (mid-August through mid-November and mid-March through early June), and to attend training sessions and regular staff meetings (sometimes in the off season).  Share Renfrew’s rich heritage, stories and landscape to inspire and engage stewards of the natural and cultural world. II.

Professional Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in education, recreation & parks, interpretation, history, science, or related field
  • Teaching certification preferred but not required
  • Experience in environmental/outdoor education and/or historical interpretation
  • Ability to teach multiple grade levels, pre-K thru middle school
  • Early childhood experience a plus
  • Ability to develop educational curriculum
  • Ability to teach within nontraditional setting
  • Willingness to work in varying weather conditions
  • Physical demands: Teaching outdoors requires a reasonable level of physical fitness allowing the instructor to pull garden carts with props and supplies, walk distances through the course of a 7-hour day and move easily over rough trails.
  • Background checks required
  • Certification in CPR, AED, First Aid or willingness to be trained

To Apply: Email the following to:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Three references

Please note: Absolutely no phone calls or walk-in inquiries. For more details about the position and Renfrew Institute, visit