Residents, event 2021 PA Wilds award winners


LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven and its residents have something to be proud of.

Two of its residents and one city event were announced as 2021 Champions of the PA Wilds Award Winners.

Bill Crowell, a local photographer who owns The Budget Artist, earned the Artisan of the Year Award; Clinton County Tourism Director Julie Brennan was named Outstanding Leader; and the Clinton County Arts Council’s LH JAMS Festival was given the Event of the Year Award.

“Each year, our organization recognizes outstanding individuals, organizations, programs, communities and places that exemplify the great work being done across the region to develop nature tourism and the outdoor recreation economy in a way that creates jobs, diversifies local economies, inspires stewardship and improves quality of life. This year will be no different in that regard,” said Ta Enos, Founder and CEO of the PA Wilds Center. “We are so incredibly excited to honor the recipients of these nine awards. The artists, entrepreneurs and volunteers involved in these pursuits have shown pride in our region and commitment to our natural assets and communities. They have also been both resilient and resourceful in the face of the pandemic, traits that are uplifted in our very own brand principles. We hope that the new format for celebrating their achievements will allow even more people to join in the process this year!”

Here’s what the PA Wilds had to say about Crowell, Brennan and LH Jams in a news release issued this week:


Bill Crowell

A juried artisan in the Wilds Cooperative of PA (WCO), Bill Crowell uses his creative photography and graphic design skills both professionally and personally to celebrate the PA Wilds region and the beauty, bounty and rural traditions the region is known for. Through his business, Budget Artist, Crowell works with clients ranging from individual families and local sports leagues to those the size of Lock Haven University, documenting the lives and special moments for locals and area visitors. He can often be found attending community events with his camera or delving into creative projects for the community. During the 2020 COVID shutdown, Crowell embarked on a series of “Porchraits” that featured families on their porches surrounded by various household items to comically reflect how they were surviving the pandemic. Previously the photo editor for the local newspaper, Bill has a knack for photographing people and bringing local events and scenery to life. He has won several awards for his photography and graphic design work and often donates use of his photos to local businesses and organizations — such as Millbrook Playhouse, the Clinton County Visitors Bureau, Downtown Lock Haven Inc. and PA Wilds Center — in an effort to help promote the area as a place for visitors and residents.

Julie Brennan

Julie Brennan has held the post of Clinton County Tourism Director for six years. As a tourism and outdoor recreation advocate, she routinely promotes the PA Wilds.

Julie is an active participant in many boards and committees designed to help the county thrive as a destination and a great place to live. Her advocacy on behalf of the Bald Eagle Valley Trail — a planned extension of the major Pine Creek Rail Trail from Jersey Shore to Lock Haven — led to the commitment of $20,000 annually from hotel tax revenue for trail maintenance.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS A band performs at the intersection of Grove and Main streets during the 2021 LH Jams Festival. The event earned the Event of the Year Award for the 2021 Champions of the PA Wilds.

Julie advocated for and secured PA Wilds “Elk Scenic Drive” signage for the Route 120 Corridor from Lock Haven to Emporium. In addition, Julie has been closely involved with several events critical to the regional economy, including the LH JAMS Festival and several trail races such as the world-class Boulder Beast, Hyner Challenge, Great Island Triathlon, and Frozen Snot.

When all events were canceled due to COVID, instead of taking a break, she morphed her weekly newsletter into a daily “Moving Forward” update that gave vital information on available programs to assist cultural, hospitality, tourism and other businesses and organizations with their economic survival. It collected federal, state, and local program information and guidance into one place for a convenient easy read. Now that things are opening back up for tourism, she is producing both newsletters.

“This was another challenging year for the Board of Directors tasked with reviewing nominations, as there were so many inspiring nominees,” said Enos. “The board encourages those who submitted nominations that were not selected this year to consider submitting again next year.”



The LH JAMS Festival (Lock Haven Jams and Art on Main Street Festival) in just a few years has fast become an exciting asset to the unique stable of festivals enticing music lovers and festival goers to visit Clinton County and the PA Wilds.

The LH JAMS committee, partnering with Downtown Lock Haven and Lock Haven University, works year-round to keep the mix of art and entertainment fresh and exciting.

It’s all about atmosphere, an exciting experience that leaves with you and draws you back the next year. Exceptional musicians and bands, plein air painting, fine art, crafts, and outdoor cafe-style dining, all on Main Street featuring two stages where the music is constant.

It’s a full afternoon of music, art, and entertainment that flows into the evening where jazz and blues fans enjoy combos playing in intimate settings at local establishments, like the Broken Axe, Avenue 209, Odd Fellas and the patio at Stella A’s.

Other award winners included: Business of the Year Award to Wolfe’s General Store in Slate Run, Lycoming County; Best Brand Ambassador Award to Dave Conklin/The Wilds Sonshine Factory in Kane, McKean County; Conservation Stewardship Award to Don Schmidt in DuBois, Clearfield County; Great Places Award to the Trails at Jakes Rocks in Warren County; Great Design Award to Mickayla Poland in St. Marys, Elk County; Inspiring Youth Award to Paul Lilja and the Black Forest Conservation Association in Potter County.

The PA Wilds will hold a virtual celebration this fall in place of its usual dinner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s Champion Awards will be distributed to winners in small groups and celebrated online to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. Videos and photos will be shared on social media, including Facebook and Instagram, @thepawilds,” a release from the PA Wilds said.



The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center promotes the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center’s core programs seek to help businesses leverage the PA Wilds brand and connect with new market opportunities, including: the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a network of over 300 place-based businesses and organizations, and the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a retail outlet primarily featuring products sourced from the WCO. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit www.PAWildsCenter.org. To learn more about the WCO, visit www.WildsCoPA.org. Explore the PA Wilds at www.pawilds.com.


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