Top 10 Conservancy Moments of the Decade

As we enter into a new decade, we are reflecting on all that has happened in the last 10 years here at the Conservancy. Take a trip down memory lane with us and read our top moments of the decade. With your continued support, we can make the next 10 years even better!

2010: Name Change

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Since our founding, we had used the word “association” to describe our organization’s relationship to the national park. In 2010, we took a close look at our organization’s name and brand impression, and concluded that “conservancy” best describes our role in support of Cuyahoga Valley National Park and our dedication to protecting the environment and its resources. Thus, we changed our name from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Earlier this year, the Conservancy unveiled our new brand, which included a new logo, an alteration of our current logo, and new colors.

2011: Stanford House Restoration and Re-opening

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Photo (left) by Ted Toth

In 2011, the Conservancy led a campaign to restore the Stanford House in keeping with its historic roots. The project funded structural rehabilitation, new furnishings and lighting, fire safety features, and a renovated kitchen. The Conservancy raised $192,500 from 68 generous donors to ensure future generations could experience the history of the Stanford House in their national park.

Today, the Conservancy operates the Stanford House as a rental facility. The historic home and its location along the Towpath and Stanford trails offer a unique “home base” for individuals and groups hoping to make an excursion in the national park. Spend the night with your family or rent out the entire house for your next group outing.

2012: Trail Mix Peninsula opens at new location

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From 2008 through 2011, the Conservancy’s original store, Park Place, was located on Main Street. In October of 2012, the new Trail Mix Peninsula opened its doors to CVNP visitors. In its new location on W. Mill Street, Trail Mix Peninsula is situated conveniently near CVSR and the Towpath Trail. Trail Mix Peninsula is now a favorite spot among CVNP visitors to shop for locally-made products and food, books, CVNP apparel, toys and much more.

2013: Elevation launches

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Photo by Brian Hunsaker

In 2013, the Conservancy developed a companion event to Topography called Elevation. Proceeds from Elevation support the Trails Forever Legacy Fund of the Conservancy, which ensures that our national park will have the resources to maintain and operate a world-class trail system. The event features a hike through the Ledges, great food and drink, live music and dancing in the Ledges Shelter, and of course relaxing around campfires into the night.

Elevation is still going strong – join us June 19, 2020 for the next event!

2014: Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center celebrates 20 years

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Photo by Conservancy staff

In the spring of 1994, the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center hosted its first residential school group. In 2014, the CVEEC celebrated 20 years, having welcomed over 100,000 youth to CVNP since its inception. To this day, we continue to bring thousands of youth each year to attend overnight and day programs.

As the flagship program of the Conservancy, the CVEEC has been providing transformative learning experiences to youth and adults with unique, hands-on learning opportunities to connect with the natural world and explore the stunning beauty of the Cuyahoga Valley.

2015: Every Kid in a Park initiative launches

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Photo by Zaina Salem

Together with the National Park Service, the Conservancy introduced the Every Kid in a Park initiative in September of 2015. This national initiative aims to give fourth graders free access to public lands and waters. During the 2015-2016 school year, the CVEEC welcomed 1,300 fourth graders to the park for Every Kid in a Park programs.

Thanks to the National Park Foundation’s grant—and the ongoing support of Conservancy members and donors—students are able to experience CVNP, many for the very first time. Now named Open Outdoors for Kids, the program continues to give children an opportunity to experience local history and nature first-hand.

2016: National Parks BioBlitz: Cuyahoga Valley ranks second for number of species counted across the country

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Photo by Sue Simenc

In May 2016, Cuyahoga Valley National Park hosted the National Parks BioBlitz, a 24-hour event where scientists and volunteers found and identified as many species as possible. This signature NPS Centennial event took place in 126 national parks across the country.

CVNP was the “showcase park” for the NPS Midwest region. Local scientists and volunteers recorded thousands of observations and the second-most number of unique species in any participating national park. Read the results >

2017: Conservancy submits initial grant application to launch new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative

Photo by Zaina Salem

Environmental organizations around the country regularly see a lack of diversity and inclusivity in the field. To address this problem, the Conservancy reached out to community foundations seeking grant funds to support the Conservancy’s initiative to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.  With the support of Cleveland Foundation, George Gund Foundation, GAR Foundation, ArcelorMittal, Akron Community Foundation, and the Akron Summit County Visitor’s Bureau, we have embarked on a DEI initiative that is core to our mission.

In June of 2019, he Conservancy hosted a concert at Music Box with Grammy Award nominee Eric Roberson featuring percussionist Elec Simon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River burning. At this sold-out event, the Conservancy presented the 2019 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Visionary Award to Cordell Stokes, the son of former 1969 mayor Carl Stokes.

Since its launching, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative has been implementing strategies that provide underrepresented populations with opportunities to enjoy greenspace, learn about preservation and build careers in environmental stewardship. Read more about our DEI initiative >

2018: CVNP completes first mountain biking trail

Photo: Jamie Walters
Photo by Jamie Walters

With support from the Conservancy, Cuyahoga Valley National Park completed the East Rim Trail in 2018, CVNP’s first mountain biking trail.

East Rim Trail lets bikers, hikers, and runners explore a unique new area of the Cuyahoga Valley. The first 2.5-mile loop opened to the public in spring 2016. View the timeline >

Funding for the East Rim trail system comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, ODNR Recreational Trails program, National Parks Centennial Challenge, S. L. Gimbel Foundation Fund, People for Bikes, and individual donors.

2019: Boston Mill Visitor Center officially opens

Left: The Boston Mill Visitor Center (BMVC) officially broke ground in January of 2018 (Photo by Ted Toth)
Right: A ribbon cutting ceremony marks the official opening of the BMVC on October 25, 2019. (Photo by Zaina Salem)
Spectators joined in on an African drum demo during opening weekend. (Photo by Zaina Salem)

The Boston Mill Visitor Center officially opened to the public on October 25, 2019, making it the first-ever, full-service visitor center for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Culminating more than 10 years of work, the park’s story can now be told in a rich, meaningful and engaging way.

This was by far the most ambitious capital fundraising campaign in the Conservancy’s history. Thanks to over 500 individuals, foundations and corporations, the Conservancy raised a total of $7.1 million for this project. Read more about the project >

All of these defining moments in CVNP’s history could not be realized without support from Conservancy champions like you. In 2020, we can look forward to many more great accomplishments, including the purchase of Brandywine Golf Course. Help us keep the momentum going in the upcoming year!

What’s your favorite highlight of the decade? Share it with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!