PHMC Outstanding Service Awards for 2018

On April 27, 2018, the following volunteers received the PHMC's Outstanding Service Award for exceptional, long-term service to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, our historic sites and museums, and the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Robert Zimmerman
Eckley Miners’ Village
Eckley Miners' Village Associates
Robert “Bob” Zimmerman has dedicated over 40 years to the advancement of Eckley Miners’ Village and its mission. He has contributed to every aspect of educational programming, services, and events on site. From village tours to researching and providing displays on history and the arts, no one has done more to advance our mission and standing in the community. Bob’s unyielding, selfless, and long-term contributions to Eckley have included aiding in the creation of tour guide training manuals and mentoring his fellow volunteers. He has given several hours at a time for events, programming, planning, and cleaning. He has submitted integral research to support programs and events and has served as president of the board. Bob hates giving one-hour tours, because according to him, “you can’t give a decent tour in less than 90 minutes. Two hours is better.” Each year Bob says that he will likely have to scale back his volunteering the next year, but he always shows up in January asking when the first school tours start. Visitors ask for Bob Zimmerman by name, which attests to the lasting intellectual and social impression he makes on the many publics that Eckley serves.

Linda Bolla
Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara
Flagship Niagara League
Beginning when Niagara was still on blocks at the foot of State Street and for over thirty years, Linda Bolla has been an active volunteer. As a member of Ship’s Company, the reenacting unit for the U.S. Brig Niagara and the War of 1812, she developed programming and procedures, some of which are still used today. She reached out to the greater War of 1812 reenacting community in both the United States and Canada; through her contacts she brought speakers, presenters, artists, and experts on the War of 1812, Battle of Lake Erie, and the Great Lakes watershed in general. Linda served on the Education committee for many years, supporting and helping to direct the education programming at the Museum and the ship. For the past 11 years, Linda has organized and led the museum’s school programs and put together a visiting speakers series for a general audience and for the Education Days for the Erie County Schools during Tall Ships events. Since before her retirement, she has averaged 30 hours a week at the Museum assisting the PHMC regional curator, learning the required procedures for processing artifacts, gifts, and loans, and providing onsite support for collections care. Linda has been steadfast in maintaining the quality of all our programming. Senior Captain and Site Administrator Walter Rybka has called her, “…my right arm in all Erie Maritime Museum affairs…much like the captain relies on the chief mate onboard a ship.”

Robert Siever
Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
Landis Valley Associates
Bob Siever began volunteering at Landis Valley in the mid-1990s; in the early 2000s, he consistently volunteered over 1,000 hours or more annually – more than once becoming our highest annual contributor of time. While still employed as a librarian at Franklin & Marshall College, he annually gave the museum an average of about one full workday a week, intensifying his contribution upon retirement. The combined breadth, depth, and longevity of Bob’s volunteerism has been unmatched. He has been with the site longer than any current paid staff member and has worked in nearly every programmatic area at Landis Valley, providing important continuity and constructive improvement over the years. He has provided weekly care and harvesting for the Heirloom Seed Project, as well as sales assistance during Herb & Garden Fair. His work with the Farm Program has included animal care, research on historical breeds of livestock, and learning to drive oxen and draft horses. He has offered extensive help in cleaning and moving objects for storage and display in both the Landis Collections Gallery and rehabilitated Bitzer Barn and conducted routine cleaning of artifacts. At the settler’s log farm, Bob helped visitors learn about life in the colonial period and showed them how to make bread in the bake oven. More recently, health concerns have reduced Bob’s time at the site, but he has continued his volunteer commitment with important internet research for use in exhibits, cataloguing, and general collections documentation and through contributions of funding for the feeding of livestock and conservation of documentary objects in the permanent collection.

Susan Plaisted
Pennsbury Manor
The Pennsbury Society
Susan Plaisted has been a volunteer at Pennsbury Manor for 30 years. She is the most experienced and knowledgeable of the cooks at Pennsbury, who demonstrate open hearth cooking for the visiting public. With a degree in nutrition and years of experience and research of colonial foodways, Susan demonstrates a unique ability and aptitude for cooking and for teaching visitors and volunteers about a variety of topics related to food and its cultural aspects. Susan’s desire to make each demonstration as historically accurate as possible has led her to the detailed work of making numerous ingredients from scratch using period-appropriate methods. The programs that she coordinates alongside her fellow volunteers in the Kitchen House provide visitors a rich sensory experience. They not only listen to the interpretation but smell it, feel it, and see it in all its stages. The dedication and passion that Susan brings to her demonstrations and her attention to every detail have benefited the public and furthered Pennsbury’s mission for 30 years. We look forward to working with her in the years to come.