Eleven residents, business owners, and organizations from across the Pennsylvania Wilds region were recently recognized for their contributions helping to foster the region’s nature and heritage tourism industry – and one of those honored was CCAC President Steve Getz.
The PA Wilds Champion Awards are given out annually as part of the PA Wilds Conservation Landscape movement, a ground-breaking partnership that began in 2003 to grow the region’s outdoors industry in a way that creates jobs, diversifies local economies, inspires stewardship and improves quality of life.
The Pennsylvania Wilds, one of the state’s 11 official tourism regions, covers about a quarter of the Commonwealth and includes the counties of Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Lycoming, Clinton, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield and the northern part of Centre county.
This year’s PA Wilds Champions hail from all corners of the region and their awards reflect values promoted through the landscape work: partnerships, creativity, stewardship, giving back, creating new opportunities and local leadership.
“The people and communities across the Pennsylvania Wilds contribute in many ways to this exciting Conservation Landscape Initiative,” said Jim Weaver, Chair of the PA Wilds Planning Team, which organizes the awards. “By identifying and celebrating the wonderful work that is being done across the region, the PA Wilds Team hopes to inspire others to catch and harness the enthusiasm that is the essence of our rural communities.”
The awardees were recognized at the PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards Banquet April 28 at the Red Fern in St. Marys. This year’s theme was “Celebrating Our Public Lands.”
Steve Getz of Lock Haven, CCAC president, was named the PA Wilds 2016 Artisan of the Year. Getz is an accomplished artist, designer and arts advocate who has championed arts efforts at the local and regional level, including working on behalf of the PA Wilds.
An accomplished painter and designer whose work has earned many recognitions and appeared in galleries, museums and other collections, Getz is probably best known among the Wilds network as one of the faces of the Station Gallery, which he and others at the Clinton County Arts Council transformed from an abandoned train depot to a stunning gallery that hosts thoughtful – and very well attended – art shows throughout the year. He has also been instrumental in organizing arts events and festivals, such as Clinton County Arts Council's Harvest Days and the upcoming Lock Haven JAMS festival in August.
Perhaps lesser known is that behind the scenes, Getz volunteers on behalf of the PA Wilds Artisan Trail and is a champion of the Pennsylvania Wilds brand. The Artisan Trail has gone through significant changes over the last few years, including a major strategic planning process in 2015 that is repositioning the program for long-term growth under a new brand identity, the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania. Getz has been there at every turn to talk through concepts and ideas, to host events, and to explain changes to current and potential artisans, trail sites and partners. Getz has understood from the beginning that a big regional arts-related business development program doesn’t just come out of the box fully formed. It has to be built, brick by brick, and that it takes a lot of people contributing to make that happen in a meaningful and sustainable way.
Also honored from Clinton County are the James H. and Shirley A. Maguire family, who received the PA Wilds’ 2016 Outstanding Leader Award; and the Bucktail Watershed Association, which received the PA Wilds’ 2016 Conservation Stewardship Organization Award.
Other 2016 PA Wilds Champion Award Winners
Conservation Stewardship Individual Award – Jim Leonard, Weedville, PA –Elk County Great Design Award – Subway New Bethlehem, New Bethlehem, PA – Clarion County Member of the Year Award– Deborah Pontzer, Elk CountyBusiness of the Year Award– Flickerwood Wine Cellars, Kane, PA – McKean County Inspiring Youth Award – Marlene Lellock, Punxsutawney, PA – Jefferson County
Event of the Year Award – Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous, Ridgway, PA – Elk CountyBest Brand Ambassador Award – Stephanie Distler, Johnsonburg, PA – Elk County Great Places Award – City of Warren, Warren, PA – Warren County