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About Us2019-03-18T13:41:59-04:00

PROJECT HISTORY

Our mission is to create a nature center focused on watershed education to promote a positive sense of place and environmental responsibility.

Dave and Linda Lester had the initial idea for founding a nature center in our local area in the early 1990’s. Dave ordered a book, “How to Create and Nuture a Nature Center in Your Community,” by Brent Evans and Carolyn Chipman-Evans, but a busy life with children and careers became a higher priority. In 2015 the project was revived and Dave started asking for ideas and support for a local nature center.

Randy Datsko, Mayor of Ebensburg, PA endorsed the idea and suggested considering the Ebensburg Municipal Authority water reservoirs as a site for the visitor center. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was created and submitted to five architect and design firms for proposals.  After careful consideration, Lose and Associates of Nashville, TN were selected and hired to develop a concept plan for the location at the reservoirs.

Attorney Michael Sahlaney has provided legal services to help establish Nathan’s Divide as a non-profit corporation, and Patrick McGlynn is taking care of the banking and accounting for the project. Brad Clemenson has been very helpful with the Ghost Town Trail and the Greenway Project with Saint Francis University.

An experienced board of directors has been formed, with backgrounds in law, education, business, conservation, and state and local government. We are currently working with David Catlin Consulting, LLC to coordinate a marketing and financial feasibility study, and a detailed comprehensive plan for the development of the project.

Our name was chosen in memory of Nathan Riggleman, a six year old friend, who found joy in exploring and learning about the outdoors.  The site of our nature center is located near the Eastern Continental Divide.

MEET THE TEAM

Meet our team of passionate and dedicated community leaders.

Dave Lester

Founder and President, Board of Directors

With over 50 years experience in real estate, construction, sales, marketing, and business management has given Dave the experience and confidence to try to develop a local nature center. Dave has finally decided on what he wants to be when he grows up and is active with the founding and development of the Nathan’s Divide Project.

Educated at Kent State University, he has founded and operated several entrepreneurial companies that has provided Dave with extensive knowledge of all aspects of small business management.

His educational background in biological science and a life long interest in nature, wildlife, and environmental issues coupled with his enjoyment of outdoor recreation, skiing, hiking, biking, and photography combines all his interests into focusing his energy to establish Nathan’s Divide.

Linda Lester

Secretary, Board of Directors

Linda and her husband Dave have lived on the same Cambria County property since 1975. She is able to experience the beauty and an appreciation of nature each day as she walks out her door. While raising two children and teaching locally, it was apparent that not all residents of the area are as fortunate. Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, Linda had many opportunities to spend time with children. That appreciation of the wonder of a young mind and a youthful fervor to contribute to society directed her to Kent State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education, and later a master’s degree in Special Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

It was her 40+ years of teaching children aged 2 months to 21 years in their homes or schools that made Linda realize not all education takes place indoors. The added benefits of spending time in natural surroundings can be related to physical health, mental well-being, and creativity. Linda supports Nathan’s Divide Watershed Education Center by providing ideas for programming particularly as it relates to the needs of children. She also acts as the Secretary for the Board of Directors.

Randy Datsko

Ebensburg Mayor

Randy Datsko has served as mayor of Ebensburg since 2009. His long record of service to the area also includes three terms as City Council president.

Michael W. Sahlaney, Esq.

Director

Michael W. Sahlaney is a partner in the firm of Sahlaney, Dudeck & Hochfeld Law Office, located at 430 Main Street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He received his legal degree from the National Law Center of George Washington. He is a member of the Pennsylvania and Cambria County Bar Associations.

His practice concentrates on estate planning and administration, elder law, and business issues, including business succession planning, zoning law, and representing charitable organizations.

Robert (Robb) W. Piper, Jr.

Director

Robb Piper is a native of the region and began his career with the US Forest Service and US Department of Interior-National Park Service. Later he began working for Kimball Forestry Consultants before becoming the first erosion control technician for the Cambria County Conservation District, where he retired in 2016 after serving as manager for 20 years. His duties included a wide variety of soil and water related projects and programs including management of Disaster’s Edge Environmental Education Center located in St. Michael, PA, as well as managing an annual budget of $1 million.

He assisted in creating the Cambria County Graphic Information System (GIS) Center in 1998 and was chief administrator for Duman Lake County Park for eight years. Today he owns and operates Piper Forestry Services, which was started in 1985 and registered as an LLC in May 2016. 

Brad Clemenson

Director

Brad Clemenson is the coordinator of Lift Johnstown and the Stonycreek-Quemahoning Initiative.  His work focuses on sustainable-community and recreation development.

He previously was lead external partner for the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape, which worked on sustainable efforts in a four-county region.

Brad also has extensive experience with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council doing regional community, conservation and recreation development.  Prior to that, he worked for the late Congressman John Murtha and the Tribune-Democrat.  He serves on the boards of the September 11 National Memorial Trail Alliance, Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority, the Steeples Project, and Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

Brad enjoys riding the area’s rail-trails, kayaking, hiking, and has a special interest in the region’s history.

Barry Creany

Director

Barry was born and raised in the Allegheny Mountains. He left the area to earn his bachelors degree from the Penn State University and then his Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law. After law school he practiced law for 33 years, initially in a private general civil practice. The majority of his career was with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General in the Public Protection Division. After retiring from the Commonwealth his people centered practice continued by providing pro bono services to individuals in matters involving civil and immigration law, including a number of asylum cases.
He has always made time to volunteer with, and to serve on the boards of, several local, Pittsburgh area and statewide organizations. Agriculture has always been one of his big interests. A long time organic farmer he is known for his great garlic that won him county fair honors including best of show and many blue ribbons.
Recently, Barry moved to southwest Colorado where he invests his time volunteering with several community service and sustainability organizations. In addition to pursuing new agricultural opportunities he enjoys hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country and Alpine skiing and genuinely enjoying the great outdoors.