May is Leave a Legacy Month

White trilliums in Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)

White trilliums in Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)

May 4, 2016 | by Marcella Zanella

By Marcella Zanella, national director of planned giving.

Leave a Legacy Month, celebrated each May, is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the special donors who choose to make a difference for the future of conservation by leaving a gift in their will to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). The gift they plan today gives NCC the confidence and the means to protect Canada’s natural places today and to plan far into the future.

In my role at NCC I am privileged to regularly speak with donors about their values, their passion for nature and wildlife and their vision for the future. It is inspiring and humbling to help many of our supporters to achieve their philanthropic interests and see their dreams come through.

I remember my first conversation with Betty Kreton Harper and learning how her passion for nature was so deeply rooted in the memories of her upbringing in Saskatchewan. She was thinking about her values and how best her legacy will reflect them.

Since we both reside in Toronto, we decided to visit the Happy Valley Forest in Ontario — an NCC natural conservation area in the Oak Ridges Moraine just northwest of Betty's house. It was during the hike in this rare old-growth forest that Betty had the opportunity to experience the extraordinary results NCC could achieve thanks to a gift established in a donor’s estate.

The historical and naturalist interpretations of John Riley, NCC’s chief science officer who also joined us on the walk, helped Betty better appreciate the diverse life that this habitat sustains. We paused in front of a cairn with a bronze plaque in recognition of Roberta Langtry, a retired teacher who loved the Oak Ridges Moraine. A portion of Ms. Langtry’s very generous bequest helped NCC achieve amazing results in the  protection and stewardship of the area.

Betty knew then that she could trust NCC with a gift in her will and that establishing a bequest that NCC could use after she was gone would  represent not only her work of a lifetime but also her beliefs and values.

Plains bison, Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, SK (Photo by NCC)

Plains bison, Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, SK (Photo by NCC)

For several years Betty has been a supporter of NCC’s Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB) in Saskatchewan. She also  had the pleasure and joy of visiting the ranch and experiencing the land and the plains bison. That’s why when Betty decided to establish a gift in her will to NCC, she knew right away where she wanted to see her commitment to nature invested. One day, long from now, Betty’s gift will be used towards conservation work in southern Saskatchewan. 

Betty is not only ensuring her life values will live on forever; she is also guaranteeing that a place she cares deeply for will be well taken care of long into the future.

I have never had the chance to visit OMB but I’ve been very fortunate to be there to help Betty make the right choice for her and NCC. Her forward thinking and the legacy she will leave is an act I am personally thankful for. Her extraordinary commitment to nature is giving me, many generations after mine and OMB’s plains bison the gift of a very special place.

I hope that many other Canadians share the same vision for the future of Canada’s natural places and that they will feel confident that  NCC is a wise investment in a long-lasting conservation legacy.

Marcella Zanella (Photo courtesy of Marcella Zanella)

About the Author

Marcella Zanella is the national director of planned giving.

Read more about Marcella Zanella.

More by this author »