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.

31st  Annual Institute Jazz Festival on August 28 – Jazz at the Wharf

31st Annual Institute Jazz Festival on August 28 – Jazz at the Wharf

The Institute’s 31st Jazz Festival is scheduled for Sunday, August 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Wharf, a park-like property at 10141 Wharf Road in Waynesboro, Pa.

The concert is offered free to the public. Rain location is Waynesboro Area Middle School.  

This year’s concert will feature the Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin Jazz Quintet, featuring Arturo O’Farrill (piano), Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Zack O’Farrill (drums), Liany Mateo (bass), and Victor Pablo (percussion).

Pianist, composer, and educator Arturo O’Farrill is the winner of seven Grammy awards with multiple other nominations. Born in Mexico, O’Farrill grew up in New York City, and began his professional career with the Carla Bley Band, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Belafonte (where he served a music director), and Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band.   

In 2007, he founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance as a not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to the performance and preservation of Afro Latin music. In December 2010 he traveled with the original Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra to Cuba, returning his father’s musicians to his homeland. He continues to travel to Cuba regularly as an informal cultural ambassador, working with Cuban musicians, dancers and students, bringing local musicians from Cuba to the U.S. and American musicians to Cuba.  

O’Farrill’s renowned Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (which plays weekly at Birdland in NYC) and his Afro Latin Quintet have performed at jazz festivals and clubs around the world. O’Farrill has also written ballets and performed with Ballet Hispanico, the Malpaso Dance Company, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.  

As a composer he received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, The Apollo Theater, Symphony Space, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Young Peoples Chorus of New York, Columbia University and the New York State Council on the Arts. He is professor of Global Jazz Studies and assistant dean for equity, diversity and inclusion at University of California (UCLA), has been honored as a Steinway Artist for many years, and is now a Blue Note Records recording artist.

O’Farrill’s well-reviewed and highly-praised “Afro-Latin Jazz Suite” from the album CUBA: The Conversation Continues (Motéma) took the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition and the 2016 Latin Grammy award for Best Latin Jazz Album. His powerful “Three Revolutions” from the album Familia: Tribute to Chico and Bebo, was the 2018 Grammy award (his sixth) winner for Best Instrumental Composition. His album Four Questions (ZOHO) is the first to embody all original compositions, including the title track, which features the brilliant orator Dr. Cornel West. This album won a Grammy in 2021.

Adam O’Farrill (trumpet) has performed and/or recorded with artists such as Rudresh Mahanthappa, Mary Halvorson, Arturo O’Farrill, Mulatu Astatke, Brasstracks, Stephan Crump, Onyx Collective, Anna Webber, and Samora Pinderhughes. As a composer and bandleader, his quartet recordings Stranger Days (2016) and El Maquech (2018) were critically acclaimed, and the latter album was listed as one of the best jazz albums of 2018 by the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, The Boston Globe, and Nextbop. In 2018 and 2019, Adam performed with his electro-acoustic nonet, Bird Blown Out of Latitude. O’Farrill comes from a rich musical background—his grandfather was composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill; his father is the cultural boundary-pushing composer and pianist, Arturo O’Farrill; his mother, Alison Deane is a classical pianist and educator; and his brother, Zack O’Farrill is a drummer, composer, and educator. Adam O’Farrill is of Mexican, Cuban, and Irish heritage on his dad’s side, and Eastern European Jewish and African-American on his mom’s side. This, combined with growing up in a place of immense cultural diversity, has shaped his tendency to break stylistic borders within not only his original music, but also in terms of who he works with as a sideman. In 2019, he won the Downbeat Critics Poll in the Rising Star Trumpet category. 

Zack O’Farrill is a drummer/percussion and educator from Brooklyn, NY. He grew up playing jazz and Latin music throughout the city and with his father, Arturo and brother, Adam. He has been teaching for almost ten years with the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, as well as the Salvation Army and the Institute for Collaborative Education. He continues performing a wide range of music throughout NYC and the world with various artists and recently started a group dedicated to Cuban rumba called La Rumbita Biquéy with several collaborators. He has recorded drums and written arrangements on many records and continues working as a composer/arranger for various projects. 

Percussionist Victor Pablo Garcia Gaetan comes from a musical family from San Juan, Puerto Rico. At an early age, his father Victor Garcia—a pianist/composer—taught him his first rhythms: Puerto Rican plena on panderos, martillo on bongo, marcha on conga, cascara and campaneo on timbales, and songo on drumset. In New York City Victor Pablo performs in Broadway pits, chamber concerts, jazz jams, salsa gigs, singer-songwriter shows, bombazos, plenazos, and is a member of contemporary percussion quartet Mobius Percussion, bomba/jazz group Fernando García Band, the TM Street Band, and is co-music director/composer/drummer for People of Earth. 

He appears in recordings of Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor García & La Sonora Sanjuanera, Fernando García, TM Street Band, Albert Sánchez, to name a few, and he can be seen in shows like Mozart In The Jungle, America’s Got Talent, and Especial Banco Popular De Puerto Rico Para El Mundo. He’s performed with Arturo O’Farrill, Los Pleneros de la 21, Andy Montañez, Ismael Miranda, NG2, Michael Stuart, DLG, Frankie Negrón, Cita Rodríguez, Nestor Torres, Dayramir González, La Sonora Sanjuanera, Wordless Music Orchestra, Itai Kriss, La Mecánica Popular, Flaco Navaja, Nina Rodríguez, Redobles de Cultura, La 95 Salsa Orchestra, Orchestra of the Americas, Delaware Symphony, Symphony In C, Philadelphia Orchestra Percussion Group, and Sõ Percussion. 

Liany Mateo, a 20-year-old jazz bassist from Jersey City, NJ, has already studied and performed with some of the country’s top names in jazz. While in high school, she studied under renowned bassist Ben Wolfe. Through her involvement with the New Jersey Performing Arts “Jazz for Teens” program, she has worked with vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, saxophonists Mark Gross and Wayne Escoffery, and drummer Alvester Garnett, as well as with an all-star band that included drummer Jerome Jennings and pianist Benito Gonzalez. In 2015, Mateo received the New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education and was awarded the first-place title in Hudson County, New Jersey’s Solo Strings Competition. She has performed with musicians such as Carl Allen, Randy Napoleon, and Brandee Younger. She holds a jazz degree from the esteemed Michigan State University (2020) and a master’s degree from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute (2021). Through these institutions, she has been mentored by jazz performers Rodney Whitaker, Danilo Pérez, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, and Linda Oh. 

Conceived in 1992 and presented every year since, The Institute’s Jazz Festival was previously held at Renfrew Park and has featured a long list of jazz legends, including David “Fathead” Newman, Randy Brecker, Bud Shank, Houston Person, Gary Bartz, Karrin Allison, Lew Tabackin, Joey DeFranceso, Frank Morgan, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Rene Marie, Vincent Herring, Ingrid Jensen, Eric Alexander, Joe Locke, and Steve Wilson. 

Pretzel Spot Café food truck will be on site and BYOB is permitted. Parking is available on the property. Those attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, and picnics are welcome. As in the past, cold water will be available free to all attendees.

Underwriting support for this event by lead sponsor, FirstEnergy Foundation, plus a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Further sponsors include Hamilton Family Foundation on behalf of Hamilton Nissan; Beverly McFarland, in memory of Tom McFarland; Franklin County Visitors Bureau; and Andrew and Sally Sussman. Additional support by The Institute’s Today’s Horizon Fund contributors: The Nora Roberts Foundation; The John R. Hershey Jr. and Anna L. Hershey Family Foundation; Alma W. Oyer; APX Enclosures, Inc.; the Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin, and an anonymous donor, in honor of the life and work of Eunice Statler. Facility support provided courtesy of Jeff and Nancy Mace.

For more information call The Institute at 717-762-0373, or visit

Pumpkins & Pippins’ Fall Festival Set for October 16 at Pine Hill Recreation Area

Pumpkins & Pippins’ Fall Festival Set for October 16 at Pine Hill Recreation Area

The Institute is Celebrating fall at Pine Hill Recreation Area, on Mentzer Gap Road in Waynesboro, with family fun at Pumpkins & Pippins!

Enjoy live music by Mountain Air, performing a mix of acoustic contemporary folk and pop music. Have lunch from Coco’s Grill or Maddie Ann’s Perogies food trucks, with dessert from our bake sale. Activities include Kid Zone/Yard Games, Pony Rides, StoryWalk® Hike &Activity, and Apple Cider Press Demonstrations.

In addition, visit our craft vendors, and watch the star attraction—the Trebuchet Pumpkin Launcher!

Other fun stuff includes Pie Walk, Pumpkin Patch, Vote for Your Favorite Decorated Pumpkin, and a Raffle (bring some cash!).

YOU CAN enter your decorated pumpkin—carved OR painted—in our Decorated Pumpkin Contest and could win $100! Details here. Or see info at the end of the post. This event is a fundraiser for The Institute, a non-profit organization, stewarding the natural and cultural resources of the Cumberland Valley for more than 30 years.

The Institute Offers “Bloomin’ Walks”

The Institute Offers “Bloomin’ Walks”

The Institute is offering two early summer “Bloomin’ Walks” to view blossoming mountain laurel and rhododendron. The walks are on Saturdays, June 12 and 26 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Part of The Institute’s Naturalist Discovery Series, the walks are led by Institute naturalist, Dr. Doris Goldman. Hikers will explore trails in Michaux Forest and in Happel’s Meadow. 

On June 12, we’ll mark National Get Outside Day with a hike along the Appalachian Trail in Michaux Forest,” said Goldman. “We will see blooming mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), which is the state flower of Pennsylvania. 

The blossoms look like folded origami flowers.”

The June 26 hike, Celebrate the Summer Solstice, is on the John Birely Memorial Trail at Happel’s Meadow, where blooming rosebay or great rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) can be found. The clusters of flowers are a hummingbird favorite. 

“This walk is quite shady and mossy, and always cooler than in the valley or most of the drier areas in the mountains,” Goldman said. 

The walks are free, but pre-registration is required. Register via email at Rendezvous point for the hike and more details will be sent upon registration.

COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed, and signed waivers are required for registration.

This program is sponsored by The Institute’s Today’s Horizon Fund Contributors: The Nora Roberts Foundation; The John R. Hershey Jr. and Anna L. Hershey Family Foundation; APX Enclosures, Inc.; The Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin.

More information is available at

A new book has been installed on the StoryWalk® children’s story trail at Pine Hill Recreation Area off Mentzer Gap Road in Waynesboro. The park is open during daylight hours, and visiting the StoryWalk® is free. 

Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals, with illustrations by Ashley Wolff, was installed by The Institute, in partnership with Washington Township, Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library and the Waynesboro Area School District (WASD).

 “The weather is warming up, and we hope people will come out and enjoy this family-friendly activity, reading an adventure as they walk along the trail,” said Pam Rowland, an education director for The Institute.

 The StoryWalk® trail is at the top of the park (just past the Dunlap Family Skate Park), and is easily accessible and wheelchair friendly.

 The trail is open year-round, and plans call for a new book to be installed every month or two. Compost Stew will remain up through April.

 Participants should practice social distancing, giving others six feet of space, and follow official Covid-19 safety guidelines while in the park.

 The StoryWalk®  is sponsored by Kathy Helfrick and Jane Glenn, with additional support from The Institute’s Today’s Horizon Fund contributors: 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 courtesy of Washington Township.

 The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.