College Township has our Thanks and a Piece of the Mountain

When the Conservancy’s 825 acres was included in the 2008 PA Bureau of Forestry spraying program, we needed time to raise the $13,005 to cover the cost.

College Township stepped up to advance the funds before the county payment deadline of mid-December until the Conservancy was able to raise the funds. The MNC Board of Directors would like to express our sincere appreciation for their generosity. After the successful completion of our Spring Challenge Grant Campaign, we were able to reimburse the College Township Council.

At the June 19, 2008 College Township Council meeting, the Conservancy presented David Fryer, Township Council Chair with a framed Mt. Nittany Life Estate deed in thanks for the support.

Left to right is Adam Brumbaugh, Township Manager/Secretary; David Fryer, Township Council Chair; MNC Board member Erich May; MNC Board member Jeff Dietrich.


Donors during the Spring Challenge Grant Campaign

The MNC Board of Directors would like to express our sincere appreciation for the $5,000 Challenge Grant from the Centre County Community Foundation and to report our success in meeting that challenge.

We were fortunate that the spraying was completed in mid-May for the entire mountain, and we are optimistic that the effectiveness of the spray will minimize defoliation. Since we were included in the County/State spraying program, our cost for spraying our 825 acres was $13,005. The $5,000 Challenge Grant provided by CCCF was a key part of MNC being able to meet that cost.

Overall, community and alumni interest in protecting the trees on Mt. Nittany from gypsy moth damage was very high. This level of interest was also reflected in media coverage about the Gypsy Moth threat, and Mt. Nittany provided a well-known reference that would perhaps host a “Perfect Storm” of damage by these insects. Our fundraising efforts focused on the need to keep our Mountain green by meeting the Challenge Grant from CCCF.

The “official” months to match the Challenge Grant were April and May. Thanks to the support of our Friends $6,630 was donated during these months.

The remaining funds have supported our communications efforts and have been designated to beginning a reserve fund for future preservation of the Mountain.

See the Honor Roll of Donors who have supported our efforts during the Challenge Grant. You can become a Friend of the Conservancy or purchase a deed at any time.

  • James Anderson
  • Dennis & Margaret Anspach
  • Appalachian Outdoors
  • Richard Betts
  • Patrick M. Bisbey
  • Bill & Angela Boor
  • Emory Brown
  • E. Alan Cameron
  • Andrew Carson
  • Tom M. Cavalier
  • Karen Hargleroad Clautice
  • Michael Cooper
  • Charles Culnane
  • Carl and Martha Deitrich
  • Donald Devorris
  • Melbourne DeYoung
  • Robert Dix
  • Kevin Donlon
  • Martin Duff
  • David W. Dulabon
  • John Dutton
  • Harry J. Endres
  • Barry W. Fisher
  • Robert M. Fisher
  • Stuart Forth
  • Robert E. Fry
  • Gary & Ralphine Gentzler
  • Carolyn Grundy
  • William T. Grundy
  • Michael F. Hamel
  • Martin L. Heavner
  • Thad L. Hecht
  • Robert S. Hodder Jr.
  • William & Wendy Hudson


  • William A. Jaffe
  • Kevin Jud, Philadelphia PA
  • Mel S. Klein
  • Edward H. Klevans
  • Ned J. Kocher
  • Daniel Land
  • John and Gretchen Leathers
  • Herberta M. Lundegren
  • Samuel J. Malizia
  • Vincent L. Marino
  • Patricia E. McMullen
  • Ralph Mumma
  • Sue Obal
  • Allan and Bobbie Ostar
  • David M. Pellnitz
  • PSU Interfraternity Council
  • Paul Pilgram
  • Ralph E. Pilgram
  • James W. Powers
  • Joseph Rahalewich
  • Alexander H. Raye
  • Catherine Rein
  • Mary Jane Roelofs
  • Vincent Tedesco
  • Theodore C. Schmidt
  • Richard S. Schweiker
  • Daniel & Roseann Sieminski
  • Garen Smith
  • Richard Verity
  • S. Jeanine Vermillion
  • John & Annabelle Wenzke
  • John & Kathleen Winter
  • Robert S. Zakos Jr.


Blue & White Society and Circle K work on the Mountain

The Blue & White Society and the Circle K organization from Penn State’s University Park campus worked on the Mountain on May 6, 2008. The group did an OUTSTANDING job. They repaired water bars and steps, and they positioned a very large new log seat at the popular Mike Lynch Overlook at the top of the Mountain.

Blue & White Society members included:

  • Amy Weixel, Director of Community Service
  • Lucy Ruetiman, Treasurer
  • Caity Rogowski. Director of Public Relations
  • Noelle Smith, Director of Membership
  • Dan Foxx, Attendance Chair

Circle K members included:

  • Bucky Vogt, Co-Projects Director
  • Scott Wilson, President

Challenge Grant Announced to benefit Mt. Nittany

The Centre County Community Foundation has announced a $5,000 Challenge Grant to the Mount Nittany Conservancy to assist with short-term and long-term conservation efforts, including the spraying of naturally occurring bacteria for Gypsy Moths this spring. Spraying the Mountain in May is expected to cost $13,000, but the Conservancy is also preparing for spraying and continued conservation efforts in future years. The Challenge Grant will be dependent upon the Conservancy also raising $5,000 in donations during April and May, and the Conservancy is set to launch a fund raising campaign to meet the challenge.

Recent surveys have shown that Mt. Nittany is the region’s most recognizable landmark. The Mount Nittany Conservancy was formed in 1981 to preserve and maintain 825 acres on Mt. Nittany, including the lands owned by the Lions Paw Alumni Association. The Centre County Community Foundation, founded in 1981 by Judge R. Paul Campbell, is a collection of over 125 individual endowments dedicated to improving the quality of life by their support of a variety of charitable objectives.

Tax-deductible donations to the Mount Nittany Conservancy may be made online, or checks made out to the Mount Nittany Conservancy may be mailed to their clearinghouse at P.O. Box 7007, Albert Lea, MN 56007-8007.

November 2007 Mount Nittany News

Members and friend of the Conservancy recently received in the mail our Fall newsletter from the Conservancy. A link to the newsletter is below.

The following is an excerpt from Ron Woodhead’s Presidents message.

We are all very fortunate that concerned alumni and community members have worked to acquire and protect Mt. Nittany over the past 60 plus years. The Conservancy now asks your assistance to continue those efforts. We are asking everyone who has enjoyed viewing or hiking Mt. Nittany to please support the future of Mt. Nittany by:

  • making a generous, tax-deductible donation,
  • joining each year as a “Friend of Mt. Nittany,” and
  • purchasing one or more Life Estate Deeds to honor family and friends.

Thank you for helping the Conservancy to keep Mt. Nittany green forever.

Please consider clicking the Support Us link and offering a donation as well in order that you too can receive future hard copy newsletters.

Gypsy Moths Threat to the Mountain

As you may have read in the Nov 6, 2007 Centre Daily Times article called “Gypsy moths threaten Mt. Nittany“, the stage is set for heavy defoliation not only on top but also on the highly visible sides of our beloved Mountain in 2008.

As indicated in the article, MNC is taking action to spray as much of Mount Nittany as possible. Look for more information on our plans in the upcoming November newsletter.

11-16-2007 Update: The Daily Collegian has printed an article as well called “Conservancy prepares for gypsy moth damage by ‘selling’ Mt. Nittany.” This articles starts: “A menacing creature is lying in wait on the branches of trees lining Mount Nittany, and Penn State alumni could help fend it off.”

Can you accept the sight of a bare Mt. Nittany? We earnestly hope that all of our friends will contribute to help us meet our financial needs and achieve our goals.

To receive the Conservancy newsletters and e-mail communications, please click the Support Us link and join the Friends of the Conservancy.

For more information on the Centre County Gypsy Moth Program, you can visit this website: Their site includes a link to Health Facts. Here they explain that biological insecticide called B.t. or B.t.k for Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki will be used in the spraying program.

For more images of the gypsy moth, see the Gypsy Moth section of the Forestry Images website. Be sure to scroll down to the “damage” photos.

The Story behind the Mike Lynch Overlook

Have you ever considered why there is a Mike Lynch Overlook on Mt Nittany? This article, published in the June 2007 Mt Nittany News, contains the answer.

Mike Lynch: Linchpin of Mount Nittany’s First Stewardship
By Erich May, MNC Lion’s Paw Representative

New to the board, I have been inquiring about the history of the Mount Nittany Conservancy. This much is clear: before there was a conservancy, another body was steward of the mountain, and his name was Mike Lynch. “He loved that mountain,” recalled John Black, a 1962 graduate of Penn State. “He was synonymous with the mountain.”

A native of Somerset County, Mike was a student body president at Penn State. He earned a B.S. in poultry husbandry in 1945 and an M.S. in rural sociology in 1957.

He worked for the Cooperative Extension Service for nearly 35 years, first as a county agent and ultimately as an associate professor and coordinator of staff development at University Park.

Mike was a frequent climber of Mount Nittany, even before Lion’s Paw bought its tract in 1946. Later, Mike would serve as chair of Lion’s Paw’s Mountain Committee. In that capacity—and he held the post for decades—Mike would organize mountain cleanups.

“He would gather a group of people every year, because he absolutely hated that shale pit,” remembered Ken Reeves, a 1983 graduate of Penn State. “He would take people up there with literally hundreds of saplings, and they would descend on that shale pit and plant those saplings in the hopes that one or two would actually grow.”

In this and other ways, Ken said, “He made it a habit to pass on his passion to alumni, young and old.” That passion extended beyond the mountain to all things Penn State. His famous slide shows included shots from campus and seasonal sequences of Mount Nittany. At one time, his slide show was the second most popular program offered to alumni chapters, surpassed only by Coach Paterno, related Tom Kidd, a 1955 graduate of Penn State: “People would stand up and cheer after seeing the slide show, ‘For the Glory of Old State.’ He was an extraordinary fellow,” said Tom, and that sentiment is shared by all who knew Mike.

Ken remembers Mike as a sincere and caring man, and a devoted husband and father. Mike was awarded the prestigious Lion’s Paw Medal in 1980, for, among other things, “his constant glorification of Dear Old State,” and “his reverent watch over Mt. Nittany.” In the pamphlet written for the occasion, Mike described his work on Lion’s Paw’s Mountain Committee: “Our main objective there is to keep Mount Nittany free from construction and ruin, so that old grads can see the symbol of Penn State like it was when they were in school.”

Mike died in 1983 while walking into Giants Stadium to attend the first Kickoff Classic against Nebraska. “If it had to happen, it was nice that it happened on the way in, so he didn’t have to endure our loss against Nebraska,” noted John. The previous year, Penn State had beaten Nebraska in Beaver Stadium and gone on to win the National Title. But in that Kickoff Classic, the Lions lost to Nebraska 44-6, so “when Mike died, we were still number one.”

Our Mountain
by Mike Lynch

Across the silent valley stands our Mountain old and strong,
Part of our college heritage in story and in song.

Through all the natural seasons, we watch her change her face,
Shedding the white of winter to green with gentle grace.

In the heat of the summer, she grows new leaves and wood,
In the golden glow of autumn, her beauty is understood.

What is it about this Mountain, with rugged rocks and rills,
That gives we Penn Staters a thousand prideful thrills.

It’s a sense of belonging to a school that’s part of us,
In the annals of our lives, we mark it as a plus.

Today, we pledge our loyalty to our Mountain and Old State,
By doing this, we join our founders, strong and great.

A Mountain’s Tale

This article is from the publication Faces of Penn State, Vol 8 No. 1 Winter 1982. The piece describes Mountain legends and history.

Things have changed since it was published. The Outing Club no longer maintains the trails (the Conservancy does it now) or hosts a climb up Mt. Nittany to start the school year. The Halloween “Idiot Overnight” event has also fallen by the wayside.

What remains the same is the “special place in the hearts of Penn Staters” that the Mountain still holds. At the end, we also are given a glimpse into the formation of the Mount Nittany Conservancy.

“Not-any Mountain”

It’s not really much of a Mountain. It measures only 2,077 feet above sea level, or 1,050 feet above the valley floor – hardly a Himalaya, by any standards. Irreverent visitors and tourists at one point dubbed it “Not-any Mountain.”

But Mount Nittany looms regally over Penn State by making up in tradition and familiarity what it lacks in geological fact. And to every true Penn Stater, it’s as much a part of the University as the school song which mentions it.

Mt. Nittany is at the fore of the Nittany Mountains, an 80-mile ridge that stretches from the Centre Region to the Susquehanna River near Lewisburg. It’s visible from anywhere in the Nittany Valley, and is, for alumni, the first verification that they are indeed “home” at their beloved alma mater.

Mt. Nittany seems always to have owned a special place in the hearts of Penn Staters, inspiring romantic and mystic legends as to its origin. As long ago as 1916, when the mountainous surrounds of the then Pennsylvania State College were serious obstacles instead of picturesque scenery, students waxed poetic about the Indian princess, Nitta-nee.

Legends, as quoted in the 1916 La Vie yearbook, holds that an old warrior and his squaw, living in the valley, planted crops that were wrested from them by a cantankerous North Wind at harvest time. After several hungry winters, they were rescued by a mysterious Indian maid from the hills who taught them to build shields against the wind. The appreciative Indians called her Nitta-nee, which meant “wind-breaker.”

When she was stricken by a mysterious illness and died, the warrior and his wife built her a burial mound which, during a cataclysmic night storm, was transformed by the Great Spirit into Mt. Nittany. This version of the legend is joined by many other slightly varying versions in a clamor for preeminence. But that has never been a problem, because the Mountain has always inspired a reverent mysticism that rises above mere fact.

It was with this reverence that sprang to life in the fall of 1945. William Ulerich, then editor at the Centre Daily Times (later to become president of the University’s Board of Trustees), and Russell Clark got wind of the rumor that the Mountain would be sold to a lumber company and stripped of its tress. With only hours left to save the Mountain, the men bought the upper two-thirds of Mt. Nittany in the name of Lion’s Paw, an honorary society which uses the Mountain for its “secret” solemn night induction ceremonies.

The society, which has annually inducted the outstanding senior students leaders since 1908, paid $2,000 for 517 acres – a good deal, even though it’s rumored that the “lumber company” was actually a ruse to speed the sale of the land.

Lion’s Paw, which has long promoted the best traditions of Penn State, has sent many honorees on to fame in various fields, and many have served as University trustees. The society and its Alumni Association were apt choices as stewards of the Mountain. They dedicated themselves to the preservation of the Mountain in its present, unspoiled, “green and growing” state, and designated it “a shrine to all Penn State alumni who were killed fighting all the United States’ wars.”

Since then, the society and association have increased their holdings to 537 acres and weathered several attempts to make “improvements” of all kinds to the Mountain.

Once close call came in 1921, when there was great popular support for the erection of a gigantic “S” on the Mountain’s face. It would either have been made of concrete (and painted white) or of light and dark-leafed trees. The idea was catching on and gaining monetary support until its deflation by famous writer and professor of English Frederick L. Pattee, who called the addition “a hideous scar” that would turn the Mountain into a “sensational object” and “a mere billboard.” Enthusiasm waned immediately thereafter.

Since that threat, there have assuredly been other, lesser attempts. But the society’s stance has been to quietly ward off all challenges with minimal fanfare, letting Mountain defend itself as much as possible. And the Mountain has done remarkably well; in many cases, the best action for Lion’s Paw to take has been no action.

The “hands-off” policy has worked especially well in the case of recreational use of Mt. Nittany, according to Michael “Mr. Mountain” Lynch, chairman of the Lion’s Paw’s Mt. Nittany Committee.

“For many, many years, the Mountain has been a favorite area for students who want to hike and camp,” Mr. Lynch says. “It’s in use every season of the year. And, since it has never been abused, we’ll continue to rely on the good sense of the Penn State students, who’ve always protected the landmark.”

A burst of interest in hiking and camping, the proximity of the Mountain, and the relative ease of the climb to the top have made Mt. Nittany more popular than ever with Penn Staters, according to Larry C. Brody, president of the Penn State Outing Club. One of the most popular of the Penn State traditions is an annual climb up Mt. Nittany to kick off each school year. The climb is especially “de rigueur” for freshmen.

“We tell freshmen that it’s required for graduation,” Mr. Brody confesses. “After the climb, some even ask us to sign their cards saying they’ve made the climb. We had about 125 people climb it this year, though the crowd varies with the weather; it has been as high as 300. After the climb, we provide a free dinner of ‘tube steaks’ (hot dogs) and lemonade for everyone at the base of the Mountain.”

The Outing Club’s Hiking Division builds and maintains trails on Mt. Nittany, and sells a hiking map of the area that includes hiking trails up the Mountain. The Hal White Trail, named after the retired associate professor of recreation and parks who helped start the Outing Club, is the most popular: it’s the best-marked (and easiest) way to the top.

“There are really only one or two official trails up, but so many people hike up from Penn State that there’s a network of ‘unofficial’ trails,” Mr. Brody says.

“Lots of people are hiking up every day, with more on weekends. If they don’t have classes the next day, they’ll go climb and spend the night. I hear we’ve even gotten calls on the easiest way to roll a keg of beer up.”

Probably the newest Mt. Nittany tradition is the “Idiot Overnight,” inspired by Charles Schultz’ “Peanuts” cartoon. On or near Halloween, groups of students climb to the summit to await the arrival of “The Great Pumpkin.” Though there have been no verified sightings, many students keep the vigil.

But not everyone is as fond and protective of the Mountain as true Penn Staters. Mr. Lynch has all sorts of stories that he could tell of encroachments of all kinds; they include the construction of an unauthorized cable television antenna, a shale pit, ramshackle huts and shacks, and dirtbike riders.

It may be the mystique of the Mountain, but Mr. Lynch says that none of these incidents have ever managed to disturb it for long. All have ceased through little or no action of the society, usually even before they’re discovered.

Probably the only lasting “intrusion” on nature is noteworthy because it occurred more than 6,000 years ago. University archaeological researchers have uncovered the remains of an Indian hunting camp that dates back to 8,000 B.C. The Derry Site, as it’s called, was first located in 1978, and is being researched by Penn State doctoral candidate Christopher Stevenson, with Penn State regional archaeologist Dr. Conran Hay.

Because of its location on the Mountain, the site was undisturbed by farming or building in later eras, and offers valuable relics and information on native American life centuries before Columbus arrived.

A more recent, but less successful, invasion attempt came in the spring and summer of 1981, when the scourge of gypsy moth descended on most of the northeastern Unites States. Centre County suffered the most damage of any county in Pennsylvania, and the defoliation of Mt. Nittany would have been particularly devastating: one portion of the bowl shaped Beaver Stadium had been left incomplete precisely so that Penn Staters could enjoy the Mountain’s flaming fall foliage while the Nittany Lion football team trounced its victims. But the ever vigilant Lion’s Paw was equal to the task.

Lion’s Paw Alumni Association members, who had been following gypsy moth infestation patterns over preceding years, were prepared for the onslaught that caught so many others by surprise. Insecticide sprayings of most of the Mountain had been arranged with the county and state in October 1980. The bill for the sprayings – almost $1,800 – was met through a fund raising drive within its 625 members and a $900 donation from the Delta Chi fraternity.

“We were concerned about it three years ago, and we consulted with entomologists then,” Mr. Lynch explains. “I’d talked to the alumni and members of Delta Chi about it, and the president of the fraternity came to me three years ago to ask if they could run their annual marathon for the Mountain.”

Mt. Nittany’s future can literally be described as “green and growing,” as a motto for the Mountain says. The growing part reflects Lion’s Paw’s continuing efforts to acquire more of the Mountain. It is moving to buy two more parcels of land which will put its total holdings over 580 acres.

The green is appropriate because money is needed to complete the purchases, land surveys, and other costs. And, according to J. Arthur Stober, president of the Lion’s Paw board of directors, the way is being made for all Penn Staters to contribute to the growth and care of their shrine.

“In the past, Lion’s Paw members have contributed money for land purchases, taxes, gypsy moth spraying, and everything else,” he says. “But now, we’re forming the Mount Nittany Conservancy, Inc., a non-profit corporation dedicated to the upkeep of the Mountain.

“Anyone will be able to make tax-deductible donations to the Conservancy, and be assured that the money will go only for the Mountain,” he says. Contributions can be made to the Conservancy in care of Lion’s Paw Alumni Association in 104 Old Main, University Park, PA 16802.

State College City-Serve Does Mountain Clean-up

Can we serve you now?

This is the rallying cry of a group of dedicated volunteers from the State College City-Serve project, On Sunday, April 27, a group of City-Serve volunteers spent the day picking up trash and removing debris from the hiking trails on Mt. Nittany.

The 17 volunteers split into 4 teams that covered all nine-miles of hiking trails and a couple miles of four-wheel drive roads on Mt. Nittany. They picked up garbage, re-blazed faded blue and white trail markings, and did trail maintenance such as cutting dead-falls that were the obstructing the trails. They also picked up trash from the parking lot and the upper part of road leading to Mt. Nittany hiking trail parking lot.

Matthew McKinney, the project team leader, sent us the following picture with this statement.

I’ve attached one photograph of the trash collected off the Mountain, 4-wheel drive road and parking lot. It’s disconcerting and I wish there was a way to educate, enforce and regulate littering – but I am glad we live in a community that’s fortunate enough to have such a great place for hiking! I will email some actual work photographs as they filter in to me and again, thank you for the opportunity to serve!

Trash Collected on the Mountain


Please, with the picture of the above garbage left on the Mountian in full view, if you do take the opportunity to use the Mountain, please note that we have a Carry in, Carry Out Trash Policy; NO trash receptacles are located along the trails!

Enjoy the trails. Leave What You Find! Take OUT what you bring in!

To learn more about City-Serve, please watch these promotional videos: