Meet the Community Celebration Honorees, Celebrating 25 Years: North Branch Land Trust, The Luzerne Foundation, & The Allan P. Kirby Center
North Branch Land Trust
The North Branch Land Trust (NBLT) traces its beginnings to 1993 when a small group of concerned citizens from the Back Mountain area came together in an effort to address the rapid and haphazard development they saw occurring in the region. On February 1, 1994, NBLT became incorporated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a nonprofit land conservation organization with the name “Back Mountain Regional Land Trust.”
In 1995, the Land Trust was able to secure its first conservation easement, a 43-acre farm near Shickshinny. With a determined effort by the Board of Directors, the financial support of dedicated membership donations, and educational outreach to our community and the region as a whole, the Back Mountain Regional Land Trust (BMRLT) took root. By the year 2000, BMRLT began to be recognized as a prominent land conservation organization, and in June of that year the Board of Directors changed the Land Trust’s name to the North Branch Land Trust as its geographic focus expanded from the Back Mountain region to the north branch of the Susquehanna River watershed.
In 2007, NBLT acquired the 667-acre Howland Property located on the Vosburg Neck along the Susquehanna River in Wyoming County and dedicated it as the Howland Preserve to honor Mr. Ernest Howland in acknowledgement of his remarkable act of philanthropy. The Friends of Howland Preserve manage the property and the Preserve is open for passive recreation and hosts miles of hiking and biking trails and two miles of river frontage.
The Land Trust completed one of its largest conservation projects in 2015, acquiring and protecting 3,053 acres of the Mocanaqua Highlands overlooking the Susquehanna River in southwestern Luzerne County. This land is now part of the State Forest system and available to the public. NBLT has also permanently conserved Camp Lackawanna a Presbyterian camp located on the Vosburg Neck in Wyoming County, Bear Creek Lutheran Camp located in Bear Creek Township, and the Wilkes-Barre’s YMCA Camp Kresge located in White Haven.
Since its inception 25 years ago, the Land Trust has conserved over 20,000 acres of land within eight northeastern Pennsylvania counties – Bradford, Susquehanna, Wayne, Sullivan, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Columbia, and Luzerne. These conserved lands protect watersheds and community drinking water supplies, habitat for indigenous plants and animals, natural areas for outdoor recreational activities, and lands for local agriculture
The Luzerne Foundation
Twenty-five years ago, in 1994, a small group of individuals led by Frank Bevevino, established The Luzerne Foundation — a community foundation. The goal was to create a means of funding causes and organizations in Luzerne County in perpetuity — long after their days were done. The founding board members felt it was critical to have a pool of unrestricted or general interest assets to best serve the various and changing needs in the community. They created The Fund for Luzerne County to do just that.
As a recognized community foundation, The Luzerne Foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, autonomous, publicly supported, nonsectarian philanthropic institution with a long-term goal of building permanent, named component funds established by separate donors to carry out their charitable interests and for the broad-based charitable interest of, and for, the benefit of residents in Luzerne County. In other words, The Luzerne Foundation is a philanthropic resource. We assist in the creation of funds for various purposes; work with professional advisors; collaborate with area nonprofits; and act as a steward of the funds under our roof.
Today, the Luzerne Foundation is home to over 350 funds and has distributed over $154 million dollars in grants. The Fund for Luzerne County alone has made 613 grants to worthy nonprofits in our community.
For 25 years, The Luzerne Foundation has lived its mission as a philanthropic leader, a community resource and a financial steward. The Luzerne Foundation has supported donors with their charitable giving, helping them invest strategically in causes they care about and in ways that make a difference in our community. Unlike other organizations, as a community foundation, The Luzerne Foundation has remained focused on developing funds that will live on in perpetuity providing support to the community for generations to come.
The Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
Founded in 1993, the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is dedicated to teaching the principles of free enterprise and entrepreneurship. As an independent Center, affiliated with the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University, the Center serves the entire University and region of northeast Pennsylvania.
The Center has a rich history of activities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students including special lectures and seminars, sponsorship of the University's Enactus team (formerly SIFE), and support for student business owners to stress the real world application of classroom material.
In July 2014, the Kirby Board of Managers appointed a new director, Rodney S. Ridley Sr., Ph.D., with a vision to move the Kirby Center forward, maintaining the Center's founding goals while continuing and expanding the work of his predecessors. Ridley envisions the Center having the same relative economic impact on the greater Wilkes-Barre area as larger institutions have on their host cities. His vision focuses on three main areas: education, business development, and community resource.
The Center has since created a Technology Transfer Office, the Wilkes Enterprise Center (business incubator) and an Office of Industry & Community Outreach to marry the assets of Wilkes University with needs in the area business community. The Allan P. Kirby Center maintains a close working relationship with the other Wilkes Centers of Excellence which include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Family Business Alliance (FBA), and the Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development.
For the past 25 years, The Kirby Center has encouraged and enabled students, faculty, staff, and community members to launch and run the businesses of the future; understand the nature of free enterprise, value creation, and entrepreneurship through curricular and experience-based activities; develop, implement, and support programs that will enhance the entrepreneurial climate of Wilkes University and northeast Pennsylvania including specific efforts to support the redevelopment of downtown Wilkes-Barre; and foster dialogue on the imperative of pursuing the constitutional goals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through the free enterprise system and entrepreneurship.
Celebrate with them on June 11th at our 2019 EPIC Awards. Register HERE!