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Discover the Beauty and Inspiration of Nature

A unique partnership among the Hollidaysburg Area Women’s Club, Blair Garden Club, Borough of Hollidaysburg, The Skills Foundation and community volunteers.

Miss. Courtney 

The first public garden of its kind in Blair County, Discovery Garden is dedicated to the memory of Courtney Leigh Claton, a young woman from Hollidaysburg.

After graduating from Hollidaysburg Area High School in 1995, Courtney worked at the Skills of Central PA, Inc. (Skills) Industrial Center in Altoona. Courtney enjoyed biking, participating in Special Olympics, and volunteering to help people in her community. Courtney spent many hours volunteering at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center and Lilly Pond Day Care at the Easter Seal Society.

Courtney passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on July 10, 1997.


The Claton family designated The Skills Foundation for all memorial contributions. Throughout the summer of 1997, hundreds of friends, family members and acquaintances honored Courtney’s memory with their contributions.

Several employees from Skills who had been especially close to Courtney approached the Clatons with the idea of using the memorial funds to create a small garden. The seed was planted for the creation of an accessible garden where people of all ages and abilities could come together to enjoy the beauty of nature. In 1998, Courtney’s mother, Karen Claton, began coordinating this lasting memorial to her daughter.

From the onset, Karen Claton envisioned the garden as a focal point for activities which bring different community groups together. The garden would provide a cornerstone for intergenerational programs, outdoor education about ecology, and inclusive activities for everyone in Blair County.

A steering committee, made up of members of Hollidaysburg Area Women’s Club and Skills employees, oversaw the fundraising and development of the garden. Over a two-year period, the garden planning prospered through grants, donations, and in-kind contributions. The Borough of Hollidaysburg provided land for the garden adjacent to the Kids’ Kingdom Play Park in Legion Memorial Park.

Dedicated on September 17, 2000, Discovery Garden carries the enduring memory of Courtney’s innate gift of bringing joy to people of all ages and abilities.

Continued broad-based support throughout Blair County supports the on-going growth of Discovery Garden. Discovery Garden continues to evolve and currently contains seven theme gardens, a 25-foot horizontal sundial, and a wisteria covered entry arbor.


The original vision is now reality as children play in the “rabbit hole tunnel,” senior citizens stroll through the gardens, and individuals in wheelchairs discover the beauty and inspiration of nature. The garden has become a popular setting for wedding ceremonies and photographs, birthday parties, prom photos, and graduation portraits.

Discovery Garden remains a unique partnership among the Hollidaysburg Area Women’s Club, Blair County Garden Club, Borough of Hollidaysburg, The Skills Foundation and community volunteers, and it has become part of the fabric and tradition of the Hollidaysburg community.

Board of Directors

A volunteer Board of Directors oversees the funding and development of the garden 

Discovery Garden

  • Lois Hampton 

  • Babs Leamer 

  • Lisa Merschiltz 

  • JoAnn Propcheck 

  • Linda Renney 

  • Pamela Rose 

  • Leslie Smith 

  • Julie Fleck

  • Beth Vipond

Skills of Central PA

  • Mary Camberg 

  • Breanne Davis 

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