Lee Todd Amigh Environmental Education Scholarship Established Through 6-Figure Gift to Lock Haven University Foundation
In honor of the remarkable life and career of 1964 Lock Haven State College (LHSC) alumna, Toletha "Lee" Todd Amigh, her husband of 54 years, Jim Amigh '64, has established The Lee Todd Amigh ('64) Environmental Education Scholarship through a major, six-figure gift to the Lock Haven University Foundation (LHUF).
Lee left an indelible mark on the world through her passion for environmental education. A 1975 graduate of the Mohonk School of Nature, for 20 years she dedicated her career to fostering a love for nature through a reading series she created with Lancaster County Parks titled, Storytime at the Park.
Recognizing a shortage in the variety in characters depicted in existing storybooks, Lee began crafting her own tales for Story Time at the Park, intertwining nature walks with her passion for the environment to weave together creative tales that made learning a joyful and interactive experience for all.
Her stories not only captivated audiences, but conveyed important lessons about harmony and respect in the natural world. With a rule against fighting during story time, Lee's narratives transformed animals - typically adversarial towards one other - into friends, fostering a learning space that opened young peoples' minds to the environment around them.
In addition to storytelling, Lee's programs included puppets to further encourage children to find their voices and tap into their creative expression. Jim recalls many instances when Lee's programs would bring out bold personalities in some of the shyest children, marveling at her empathetic and nurturing approach as an educator.
Early in her career, Lee also spent time at Armstrong World Industries Inc. where her father was an executive. She also dedicated 15 years of service as a research associate with the Daniel Smiley Research Center.
"My heartfelt appreciation goes to Jim, and, the entire Amigh family, on behalf of the students whose lives will be enhanced as a result of this generous gift to the university," said Bashar W. Hanna, Commonwealth University president. "Lee (Todd) Amigh dedicated herself to a life of educating others and caring for the environment. Her legacy is one that we, as an institution, are honored to uphold."
Jim and Lee met when National Champion LHSC wrestler, Gray Simons '62, returned to Lock Haven after competing at the 1964 Summer Olympics. According to Jim, when university administrators wouldn't give students the day off to commemorate Simons' return to campus the student body protested, before President Richard Parsons eventually agreed to cancel classes for a day of celebration.
"The Riot Dance" thrown by students that ensued was the serendipitous set of events that brought Lee and Jim together during their senior years at The Haven. Four years later, they wed. For nearly six decades, they were happily married before Lee's death in 2021.
As an LHSC student, Lee was a member of the sorority Alpha Sigma Tau. She played basketball for iconic, multi-sport head coach, Charlotte Smith, and was a member of Lock Haven's first women's tennis team. In dedication of her commitment to athletic competition, Jim also allocated a portion of his gift to support student-athletes competing on Lock Haven's women's tennis team. Lee was also an outstanding baseball player. To this day her peers in Lancaster's Bausman Community, and at Buchanan Elementary School and Lancaster Township Jr. High School still remember and talk about Lee's baseball playing ability.
"Today, we are celebrating not only the remarkable life of Lee (Todd) Amigh, but the beacon of inspiration that remains in her memory because of her loving husband, Jim," said Ashley Koser LHUF executive director. "Lee came to Lock Haven 58 years ago and changed Jim's life for the better, and because of The Lee Todd Amigh ('64) Environmental Education Scholarship, she is now doing the same for current and future students at The Haven. That's pretty special."
"People in our (Jim and Lee's) age group did not have environmental education when we were younger, but Lee was the most creative, multi-talented person I ever met, and it's my hope that students will continue her legacy to teach others about reducing their carbon footprint and protecting the environment," Jim said.
The Lee Todd Amigh ('64) Environmental Education Scholarship awards up to $21,000 per year to students majoring in environmental education at Commonwealth University. Sophomores Noah Shedden and Garrett Hilliard received the award for both the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years.
Anyone interested in donating to the LHUF, can do so securely online at www.lhufoundation.org. To establish a scholarship, include the LHUF in your estate plans or to learn more about the wealth of strategic options available to support your financial planning goals, while impacting students at The Haven, contact Koser at 570-484-2128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.