We are grateful for every generous gift that will help the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy achieve its goals.
For a technology entrepreneur who is not afraid to take risks, a ‘wild venture’ doesn’t usually suggest traipsing deep into a bog looking for plants. But when board member Dan Nydick gets out of the office, this is just one of the wild places where you might find him.
Even though his career requires a lot of desk time, Dan has always loved being outside. As a child, he hiked and enjoyed splashing in streams finding salamanders and frogs. As a teenager, he worked at a summer camp as a nature counselor. So when Dan moved to Pittsburgh to study electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, he naturally began exploring the region’s open land and state parks. Over time, he realized that many of his favorite places to visit, including Bear Run, Moraine State Park and Enlow Fork in Greene County, had been protected by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. That is when he became a member.
Later he made another discovery while cross country skiing in Bear Run. Turning a bend, he suddenly came upon the unexpected panorama of Fallingwater before him. The sudden appearance of the iconic house in the snow made quite an impression on him. “Fallingwater is a gem,” he adds, and points out the many admirers who have not even had a chance to see it in person.
Dan fulfills his scientific curiosity by accompanying WPC field scientists on wildlife surveys in the woods and waterways of Western Pennsylvania. He has searched for hellbender salamanders, gone birding, traversed the French Creek watershed and explored fens and cliffs in Erie.
One of his favorite outings was visiting Ligonier farms on which WPC holds agricultural easements. He was amazed at the range of the yield, from maple sugar to beef cattle, and the diverse reasons that farmers have for preserving their land.
Overall, Dan is fascinated by how varied the ecology is within the Western Pennsylvania region, and how each area has very different plant and animal life, even while sometimes in close proximity to each other. His passion for land and water conservation is all the more interesting because he was raised in Manhattan. He credits his parents with instilling in him a love of nature through weekend trips to the country. Dan and his wife, Lisa, an avid horse lover, have brought up their two daughters with frequent nature outings as well.
Dan also adopted another family value - his father’s philanthropic generosity. He and Lisa continue this legacy, in part, by supporting WPC’s overall capacity and conservation science. He joined the Board in 2009, and volunteers as a land steward, helping to maintain WPC owned properties.
Dan believes that most people aren’t aware of the breadth of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s work, and he happily shares his experiences to help expand that knowledge. He adds that while WPC has distinct work areas, and even different constituencies, there is strength in being part of one organization, amplifying “WPC’s good effects on the region.”
From a captivation with the particulars of conservation science to the astonishment of unexpected vistas that appear around the bend, Dan has an educated and personal understanding of the value of our region’s forests, natural lands, and waterways. He supports the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to ensure that generations to come will experience the landscapes and wildlife that he has grown to appreciate so well.
Our success will be our collective legacy, a testament to foresight and commitment to the natural resources entrusted to us.