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Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course creates educational, recreational opportunities

The Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course, currently under development at Pennsylvania College of Technology, will provide the campus community and beyond with stimulating outdoor activities to foster leadership and team-building skills.

Funded by a generous gift from Brent and Daria Fish – longtime supporters of the Penn College Foundation and its annual fundraising activities like the Golf Classic and Dinner and Auction – the challenge course will eventually connect the college campus to the Greater Williamsport area via the Susquehanna Greenway extension project.

Concept drawings tentatively demonstrate what portions of the Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course at Penn College may look like upon completion.
Concept drawings tentatively demonstrate what portions of the Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course at Penn College may look like upon completion.

The course was conceived by Rob Cooley, associate professor of anthropology and environmental science. Student recommendations will influence the final design for the course, which will benefit first-year students seeking to solidify campus-community connections. Benefiting similarly will be diverse student clubs and organizations, Residence Life, Wildcat Athletics, ROTC students, and more. The course can also serve as a resource for Workforce Development at Penn College, corporate groups, pre-college programs, reunions and special events.

“The Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course will be a wonderful resource for Penn College students, the entire college community and the Greater Williamsport area,” said President Davie Jane Gilmour. We are most grateful to Daria and Brent Fish for their financial support of this project, which will provide wide-ranging benefits for individuals and organizations.”

Cooley said the concept of a challenge course on campus was envisioned to serve multiple constituencies and disciplines, creating a meaningful and lasting impression for all participants.

Funded by a generous gift from Brent and Daria Fish, the course will provide the campus community and others with stimulating outdoor activities to foster leadership and team-building skills.
Funded by a generous gift from Brent and Daria Fish, the course will provide the campus community and others with stimulating outdoor activities to foster leadership and team-building skills.

“Collaborative experiences foster relationship-building, leadership discovery and sustainable partnerships,” Cooley said. “Much research speaks to the value such programming and outdoor physical activity contributes to mental health and wellness. The challenge course creates a platform for academic programs to evaluate theory and practical application that reflect real-world conditions. Innovation is woven throughout our campus community, and this project is designed to bring all together, to be a cooperative resource for the entire Penn College community.”

Brent Fish has spent his 30-year professional career in the real estate business transforming commercial and residential real estate and influencing economic development. In 2008, he purchased and became president of Fish Real Estate, a traditional, family-owned real estate firm, and transformed it into a diversified residential, commercial and recreational properties organization.

Additionally, he established related startup companies for mortgage services (More Than A Mortgage) and property management (One Focus Property Management). He is a well-respected leader in the Williamsport and regional communities and serves as an active member on a number of organizational boards, including the Penn College Foundation Board.

Daria Fish’s professional career spans sales, government relations and corporate communications. Her interpersonal skills, keen marketing sense and business-strategy capabilities have strengthened several global organizations including Sanofi S.A., Lycoming Engines and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. In her role as public affairs director at Chief Oil & Gas, she established a strong relationship with the college.

Currently, she is a master’s degree candidate in public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University, as well as principal partner of Fish Consulting.

With The Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course, they are aligning their passions for business, education, marketing and the great outdoors, converting a collaborative concept into a campus experience.

“We wanted to give back to an organization that greatly enhances our community,” Daria and Brent Fish said. “Pennsylvania College of Technology was an obvious choice. We have had the distinct opportunity to serve as board members of the Penn College Foundation, which enhanced our knowledge of the unique academic benefits and hands-on learning offered at the institution.

“When determining what area or curriculum we felt aligned with us personally and professionally, we were presented with the idea of the Challenge Course. It was a perfect fit.  Leadership, and especially communication skills in our world of technology, is critically important for any institution of higher learning.  The Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course will provide a vehicle to enhance those efforts and to prepare students to be effective communicators while teaching tangible leaderships skills. We are excited to be a part of it.”

The gift has additional meaning to the Fish and Penn College families, as it is made in memory of Brent’s father, William H. “Bill” Fish, honoring the legacy of a man whose leadership and philanthropic spirit lives on in the lives of those he served.  He and his wife, Mary “Sis” Fish, established the William and Mary Fish Scholarship at Penn College to empower accounting and business administration students.

“The Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course will be a valued addition to campus and our community,” said Loni N. Kline, vice president for college relations. “We are thankful for Brent and Daria’s forward thinking and passion to develop industry leaders through collaborative experiences. We are pleased to recognize their thoughtful gift in honor of one who was treasured by many throughout the Williamsport community.”

For more about giving opportunities at Penn College, visit College Relations or call 570-320-8020.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education and a special mission affiliate of Penn State, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

The top image is by Kristina M. Holland, of Mechanicsburg, and Olivia Kleman, of Shamokin; the bottom rendering by Keegan B. Mack, of Kingsley. All are fourth-year students whose work can be viewed in the online Architecture and Sustainable Design exhibit curated by The Gallery at Penn College.

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