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Grant to bring Conservation Corps workers to Pa. institute

May 25, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

WELSH RUN, PA. -- There was a lot of hugging Tuesday at Conococheague Institute when the educational center's leaders learned they received a state grant.

"It's just amazing," said Gay Buchanan, a member of the advisory board.

"I'm going to cry," museum educator Cynthia Lawrence-Fink said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell announced in a news release that projects at the center will be completed through the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps, an opportunity for hands-on training for young people.

"These people will come work at the institute for a year," Buchanan said.

The state will make an investment of $123,700, for corps members to work on several Conococheague Institute initiatives, the largest of which will move a cabin 40 miles from Amberson Valley, Pa., and rebuild it on the institute campus.

The Allen Piper family donated the cabin believed to have been built in 1767, Lawrence-Fink said. The structure, made of chestnut logs, will be used as a blacksmith shop at the institute, she said.

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Demonstrations will be conducted in cooperation with a Shenandoah Valley blacksmith association. Lawrence-Fink's late husband, David, worked as a blacksmith at an out-of-state museum, and now his family is loaning the contents of his colonial blacksmith shop to Conococheague Institute.

A lean-to addition for the cabin will serve as a portable blacksmith shop, where demonstrators can work on a wooden forge in hotter months.

Other projects planned for the corps workers include creating a handicapped-accessible bird-watching platform near the marsh and rebuilding a summer kitchen, Lawrence-Fink said.

"We will actually be starting workshops and classes in fireplace and hearth cooking," Lawrence-Fink said of the summer kitchen.

An environmental component of the grant program will allow for classes taught by biologist Doris Goldman, Lawrence-Fink said.

Lawrence-Fink said she drove through snow Jan. 8 to obtain signatures from the Tuscarora School District (the institute's partner in the application) and mail the paperwork.

"It has drawn us closer together with the school district," she said, saying nonprofit organizations weren't permitted to apply on their own in most parts of the state.

Workers from the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps, established in 1984, will arrive in Welsh Run in early July, she said.

Established in 1994 as a nonprofit corporation, the institute maintains five historic buildings, a 6,000-volume research and genealogy library, and more than 20 acres of scenic farmland, wetlands, meadows and trails/woodlands, according to its website, conococheague.org.

It is part of a network of sites belonging to the Colonel Washington Frontier Forts Association, all dedicated to promoting and interpreting the history of the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

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