2023 Spirit of South Mountain Awarded

Each year at the “Power of the Partnership” event we award the Spirit of South Mountain to an individual, a project or an organization that advances the mission of the South Mountain Partnership and has made a significant contribution toward sustainability in the landscape.

This year it is our pleasure to award to a person who has laid the foundation of the Partnership we enjoy today- Mike Eschenmann. 

Beginning his career as South Middleton Township Parks and Recreation Director, and retiring as a Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Division Chief, as well as the Internal Lead of the South Mountain Conservation Landscape, Mike Eschenmann has provided exceptional recreation, conservation, and partnership service to this region and our Commonwealth by connecting people with one another and the resources that they need for conservation project success. 

Mike was instrumental in creating the South Mountain Partnership and shaping its early foundational structure. He played a critical role in South Mountain Partnership’s origin story by rallying support to purchase and preserve 850 acres of South Mountain ridge line in Monroe and South Middleton townships in Cumberland County, known as White Rocks. This White Rocks project was the initial project that gathered lots of groups and people together in collaboration. Mike helped that process along by creating relationships in each group – and this spirit of camaraderie and collaboration is what allowed South Mountain Partnership to take form. 

Although retired, Mike is still actively contributing. He is a key thought partner to us and volunteers on our fundraising sub-committee and plays his guitar for us anytime we ask! He provides professional assistance to local communities in need. 

Mike saw the immense value in networking and connecting with people and forming strong relationships and partnerships at the local grassroots level. Those relationships and partnerships that were built under Mike’s leadership have created tremendous resilience for the South Mountain Partnership, ensuring the shared work we are all committed to today can carry on to tomorrow. Today we have 54 organizations signed on as partners, and a larger network of over 2,000 people that stay in touch with the work we do.