Waynesboro native recognized for his donation to ag preservation

CHAMBERSBURG — A retired guidance counselor in the Chambersburg Area School District who passed away last year has left a legacy beyond the many lives he touched, with a substantial donation to the Franklin County Agricultural Land Preservation program.

The family of William Schroyer was recognized recently by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners after Schroyer’s estate left $268,729 to the county for land preservation.

“It’s a very generous donation,” said Steve Thomas, county planning director. “We feel this is gonna go a long way to preserving agriculture in the county.”

Each year, land owners apply to preserve their farmland by allowing the county to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of qualified farmland.

In Franklin County, all applications are reviewed and ranked according to soil quality, pressures on development and other criteria, and the county buys development rights for up to $2,500 per acre as the county budget allows.

Each year the county spends about $150,000 through the preservation program. The state Department of Agriculture matches their buy on a four to one scale.

To date, the Franklin County Agricultural Land Preservation program has preserved 17,991 acres on 141 farms across the county.

Schroyer was passionate about preserving the agricultural nature of his hometown, according to his brother.

“Land conservation was very important to my brother,” Ken Schroyer told commissioners last week. “He would drive I-81 and say, ‘look at all this construction ruining all this farmland.’”

Schroyer was born in Waynesboro in 1926, the son of William Sr. and Ruth Harbaugh Schroyer.

“During the depression, we were forced to move to Roger Harbaugh’s dairy farm in Waynesboro. We milked by hand. We were all hard workers,” Ken Schroyer recalled of his brother and sister, Helen.

William Schroyer graduated from Washington Township High School and Shippensburg State Teachers College. He went on to teach seventh grade for one year in Antrim Township and spent 32 years in the Chambersburg Area School District, the last 20 as a guidance counselor at the former Central Junior High School.

“My brother lived in Pennsylvania all his life except for two or three years in the military,” Ken Schroyer said.

William and his wife, Marian, never had children. She died 2014.

“He was very prudent in his spending,” Ken Schroyer said of his brother, who also left his estate to Menno Haven and his church.

“It’s families like yours that make Franklin County the best county in the Commonwealth,” Commissioner John Flannery told Schroyer during the presentation.

The funding will be added to the 2021 budget of the Franklin County Agricultural Land Preservation program.