The site of Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve & Environmental Center has a long history of human activity. Native Americans traveled and hunted in these woods. Remnants of arrowheads and other tools have been found throughout the area.
European settlers, who arrived in the 1700s, cut the forest for fuel and cleared the land for cultivation. Many charcoal mounds can still be found on the Preserve. The people of Mount Hope made their living by working the land. They cleared forests, farmed, planted orchards; they even mined for copper and other minerals.
Mrs. Froelicher began the foundation to support her husband’s, Hans Froelicher, efforts to clean-up and protect the Swamp Creek Watershed. In the early 1960′s, the Froelichers began purchasing properties in Hamiltonban Township, stitching together various tracts of land to create the original 519-acre core of Strawberry Hill.
After her husband’s passing in 1976 and after ten years of failed efforts to find a new owner, which would commit to providing environmental education, Mrs. Froelicher created the foundation to establish an environmental education center at the Preserve.
As the founder and executive director of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association of Baltimore, MD from 1945-69, Mrs. Froelicher believed that work done with a small professional staff, a large number of volunteers and a great deal of enthusiasm, that Strawberry Hill could establish itself as a valuable asset to the Adams County community.
Mrs. Froelicher managed the land and worked towards establishing an environmental center until her death on December 31, 1994. In her passing she gave Strawberry Hill to the community of Mount Hope, and provided a small endowment to create an environmental education center. Since 1994, Strawberry Hill has expanded the preserve to include 609 acres. Our supporters have grown to 360 individuals and families from the surrounding community.
Today, Strawberry Hill protects numerous wetlands, vernal pools, and two high-quality stream corridors, and the cultural heritage of Swamp Creek, Middle Creek, and Mount Hope. The Preserve provides recreational opportunities to Adams County residents through a variety of cultural and environmental programs and by maintaining ten miles of trails that are open to the public for hiking.
Strawberry Hill’s academic programs have enriched Adams County school district programs by providing interactive exploration of natural life cycles, plant-animal relationships, ecology, and habitat to over 5,000 children annually. All of Strawberry Hills’s academic environmental educational programs were redesigned in 2002 to meet the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Standards for Ecology and Environment.
The Froelicher’s mission was to provide the community of Adams County with awareness, appreciation, and understanding of our natural environmental and cultural heritage through programs provided by the organization that now operates as Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center.