PHMC Volunteers of the Year for 2017 part 3

The Pennsbury Society
Nyla Houser
Nyla Houser has been a volunteer at Pennsbury Manor for 10 years, donating hundreds of hours per year, guiding tours, acting, fundraising, and more. Tracing her family roots in the area back to the late 1600s, Nyla brings a personal connection to her work. Her genuine love for the history that is so dear to her enables her to engage the public in such a way that makes what they are learning about relevant and real. Her extensive knowledge of local history makes her an ideal guide for the “Mansions Along the Delaware Tours” and helps her provide a memorable experience for tour groups and visitors to Pennsbury. As a former teacher, Nyla is an invaluable resource when it comes to guiding our youngest visitors. She has also been essential to recruiting other former teachers to become part of the school tour guide corps. Nyla has helped to raise funds for the site by portraying Hannah Penn at schools and local clubs and organizations. She has used her calligraphy skills on invitations and documents for use at fundraisers and events. One of her favorite volunteer activities is the Living History Theater program, where she has played the roles of Margaret Mattson, accused of witchcraft in 1684, and Judith Roe, who was found guilty of murdering a traveler in 1688.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates
Kenton Greenman
Kent Greenman is one of the many members of the Greenman family who volunteer at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum to keep its historic steam-powered circular sawmill exhibit running smoothly. He has been an active volunteer at the museum since 1997. The sawmill is demonstrated at the spring and fall antique shows and during the annual Bark Peelers’ Festival on July 4th weekend. Kent and his father and brothers control and care for the Cleaver-Brooks boiler that supplies the steam to run the mill. They also calibrate, operate, and maintain the historic Frick and Erie steam engines that power the head saw and other equipment. Kent demonstrates the jack ladder winch, Tower edger saw, and cut-off saw when the sawyer’s crew needs help. An aerospace engineer working on engine dynamics for Pratt & Whitney United Technologies, Kent travels six hours to and from his home in Connecticut when he volunteers at the museum, visiting his family’s property in Potter County. Working on the sawmill combines his love of engines with his interest in lumber history and modern forest management. Kent enjoys talking to and interacting with museum visitors, providing them with a wealth of information about the mechanics of the mill, and hopes to pass the family tradition along to his own children.

Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum
Jim Carras
Jim Carras has been an avid volunteer at the Pennsylvania Military Museum for more than five years. His dedication to the museum can be seen during his countless hours of service before, during, and after events and programs at the Museum. He selflessly gives of his time and effort with event setup and teardown; he also helps to ensure that outreach and outstanding customer service are provided. Jim was a pivotal team member during the World War I Centennial and programs commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, helping to make each event a success. Without prompting, Jim always takes the initiative to help staff and other volunteers accomplish the objective.

Friends of the Railroad Museum
R. Neil Gruber
Neil Gruber joined the volunteer corps at the Railroad Museum in late 2010 and since then has contributed his talents to many different departments. A large portion of his work at the Museum has taken place in the library and archives, where he has devoted considerable time to the scanning of images, working to process them and make them available for online viewing and research. He also serves on the IT committee, where his background in software and technology makes him a natural fit. In addition, Neil frequently photographs Museum activities, including providing a photo wall experience at the Trains & Troops program and serving as the event photographer for the Rails & Ales event. His photos can be seen in Museum publications and on the website and social media pages. Neil is always ready to assist wherever he can.

Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County
Wayne Pyle
Wayne Pyle has contributed his photo and video services to the Somerset Historical Center for many years. He has generously donated his services and photography/video equipment to record programs and special events and to film historical activities to develop new interpretive programs. Wayne documented more than 40 artisans during the annual Mountain Craft Days Festival, compiling more than three hours of video interviews and footage of the artisans at work. Segments of this footage were selected to create nine short videos; these were uploaded to the Center’s Facebook page to promote the 2017 festival with great success. The videos had a reach of 36,000 people, far beyond the Center’s regular Facebook followers. Wayne also documented the process of burning lime in the Society’s newly constructed lime kiln, which will be used for interpretation and to develop a STEM/STEAM. program for secondary classrooms. Wayne devoted many hours to photographing artifacts from the collection and exhibits for the Society’s publishing projects and archives. He has made a tremendous contribution to the Somerset Historical Center’s historical documentation, interpretation, and marketing.

The Friends of the State Museum
Steve Lantz
Steve Lantz has been volunteering with The State Museum since January 2013, when he started as a Stop-and-Learn docent in the Archaeology exhibit, teaching visitors about Native American life along the Susquehanna River. In spring and summer of that year, Steve put his exceptional public speaking skills to use as a docent in Objects of Valor, the Museum’s Civil War exhibit, and Art of the State, the annual juried art exhibit that includes works from artists all over Pennsylvania. Steve can always be relied on to sign up on the museum’s busiest visitation days, running the Stop-and-Learn cart for the school kids. He also runs The Black Bear lesson in Nature Lab and assists the education staff with family events, such as Night of The Great Pumpkin, Noon Year’s, and Charter Day. Steve has also assisted the Museum’s Section of Archaeology with their exhibit at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, educating visitors about the dugout canoe. He serves as a docent, a greeter, a visitor services assistant – whatever is needed. Museum staff have been impressed over the past four years with Steve’s remarkable talents for interacting with visitors, both adults and children.

PHMC’s Outstanding Service Award for 2017
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
Friends of The State Museum
Andrea Bair
Andi Bair and her late husband, Jim, began volunteering at Ephrata Cloister’s archaeological excavations in 1996. They commuted over 100 miles a day, nearly every day, to assist with the excavations and field schools. Their assistance carried over to The State Museum’s archaeology lab, and soon Andi was volunteering twice a week, every week, to oversee the organization and filing of manuscript reports (during her tenure this record-keeping transitioned from paper files to electronic). When the Section of Archaeology moved into the Keystone Building in 2000, Andi was instrumental in organizing files for data entry and continuing to maintain the databases for the high-density filing system. Recognizing a need to keep up with changing technology, Andi took an Excel course to assist in accounting tasks for public outreach programs and curatorial tasks of the Section. Her organizational skills have contributed to the success of archaeology conferences and public outreach programs such as the Pennsylvania Farm Show and the Workshops in Archaeology. Andi’s assistance with registration, name tags, financial reports, and countless organizational tasks is irreplaceable. Contributing an average of three hundred hours annually for more than twenty years is extraordinary, and we have been privileged to benefit from Andi’s commitment to the PHMC, archaeology, and the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

PHMC’s Outstanding Service Award for 2017
Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates
Robert Greenman
Bob Greenman has been volunteering at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum since 1986, running and maintaining the steam-powered sawmill. Bob’s first visit to the museum was during a trip with his father to a plot of forest land owned by the family near Coudersport. After that initial visit Bob would often return and find himself watching the sawmill in action, particularly the steam engines that power it. As a mechanical engineer, this was a natural fascination for him. At some point, the “engine guy” at the time, Lester Jordan, invited him in to take a closer look. Soon Bob was traveling from his home in Albany, New York, to assist Lester on a regular basis and then encouraged his son Nathaniel to join him, followed by his other son, Kent, in 1996. Bob and his sons learned how to run and maintain the steam engines and associated sawmill equipment, which allowed Lester to focus on other restoration projects. Over the years, Bob has been involved in multiple projects at the museum, including the procurement of a Model T for the core exhibit, restoration of the band saw log carriage, and a long-term closed-circuit video project designed to enhance the visitor experience at the sawmill. A strong supporter of the museum, Bob always shares his enthusiasm with people he meets and lets them know that they really must visit the museum themselves to experience the history on display there. Bob’s devotion to the Museum, fostering a family tradition of volunteering at the sawmill, and his willingness to assist with numerous other projects have made him an invaluable asset.