A Gift in Legacy Has Transformed Washington and the World

By Mike Schaefer, steward of Ric Weiland’s legacy and trustee for the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy received two transformative estate bequests from Ric Weiland — one of Microsoft’s first employees — in 2007. His generosity and passion live on through The Conservancy’s collaborative and breakthrough efforts on a global scale.

The first gift was $6.4 million in support of The Conservancy’s global programs and was directed to drive significant marine and freshwater conservation. This gift enabled development of comprehensive conservation strategies in the marine world, the identification of political players and appropriate policy goals, and scientific studies that served as the foundation for decisive action in several areas. On the freshwater side, funding was deployed to develop a global “Blue Water Certification” program that recognizes water utilities and cities for practices that promote responsible water stewardship. This work includes outreach, training and case studies in Australia, South America, Africa, China and the United States.

The second gift, also $6.4 million, was directed specifically to The Conservancy’s work in Washington state. Celebrated at the Washington chapter's 50th anniversary gala in 2010, Ric's bequest followed precedents set by other Pacific Northwest philanthropists such as Patsy Collins and Paul Allen and the legacies of families such as the Rawsons in the 1960s and the Feldenheimers in the 1970s — all of whom led the way toward ensuring sound stewardship of Washington's forests, sagelands, oceans, rivers and shorelines for future generations. During a time of economic recession, Ric’s bequest maintained The Conservancy’s ongoing care for its preserves across the state. 

The Conservancy’s work in the Olympic rainforest has expanded into the Hoh River watershed. Ric’s legacy has made possible our work on the Washington coast. (Photo by Keith Lazelle).

The Conservancy’s work in the Olympic rainforest has expanded into the Hoh River watershed. Ric’s legacy has made possible our work on the Washington coast. (Photo by Keith Lazelle).

The funds also supported protection and restoration of vital salmon habitat along the Hoh, Queets and Quinault rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. The Conservancy’s expanding efforts on the Washington coast over the past 10 years have led to unanticipated and inspiring new partnerships with local tribes and communities in pursuit of tangible benefits for people. These partnerships are now connecting with more and more communities up and down the coast.

Ric’s extraordinary support for The Nature Conservancy has helped take conservation to the next level, both in the place he called home and far away. Thanks in part to him, The Conservancy is working with many more partners in a greater variety of places toward much greater impact than ever before. Together, we’re making our world a better place for both nature and people. In this very real sense, we all benefit from Ric’s legacy every day.

Mike Schaefer on Yellow Island

Mike Schaefer on Yellow Island

Meet Mike Schaefer 

Mike Schaefer has been involved in The Nature Conservancy for more than 10 years — first, as the steward of his partner Ric Weiland’s legacy gift to support The Conservancy, second, as a member of our Leadership Council and, since 2015, as a member of our board. As a trustee, Mike has the distinction of serving as our “Trustee Legacy Club ambassador,” championing the work of our estate and planned gifts for donors and members wherever and however he can. His passion for conservation is infectious, and he has used his “bully pulpit" to champion the work of The Conservancy, here in Washington and throughout the world.

Learn More About Legacy Giving

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

We're extremely grateful to receive a $5 Million gift from Sid and Diane Gibbins.  It's an amazing honor to witness HOW our members ensure that Washington remains evergreen for generations to come.

Read this touching letter below from their daughter Karen and her tribute to her parents leaving a lasting legacy for nature in our beautiful state.

As we move into the next stage of distributions from my mother’s estate, I’m thinking more of my parents and their vision for preserving some of Washington’s last best places - the ones to which they gravitated as a young couple in Washington in the early 1950s just starting out in their own adult lives and the ones they cherished in their final years.

They saw the beauty and the benefits of those open spaces. And they felt strongly enough to look to The Nature Conservancy to partner in giving others, both the young and the old, a chance to continue to experience in perpetuity what they did during their short stay on this planet. Many weekends, they would pack a rudimentary lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, and pack their young family into their camper to travel deep into the forest from city streets along unpaved roads to get closer to nature. There, they shared their love of nature with their family, on hikes to areas of natural beauty that still resonate with me today.

Sid Gibbins, a native New Yorker who grew up in Los Angeles, would bring his 35 mm camera to add to his voluminous collection of slides detailing a world of flora and fauna that he would keenly see all around him in spectacular Northwest settings. Diane, daughter of a career military officer, grew up in locations as diverse as Hawaii and Georgia, earned a master’s degree at the University of Washington, where she met Sid, who was earning his doctorate in chemistry. Diane was a strong supporter of protecting animals in the wild and the environment. Sid would die in Bellingham in 2005 at age 78. Diane would follow in 2015 at 86.

I’ve followed the work of the Nature Conservancy in Washington State and - as my mother and father were - am impressed with its goals, philosophy and commitment to preservation of land that Sid and Diane Gibbins — my beloved parents — felt so strongly about retaining for future generations. As we move forward, it’s important to keep their vision in mind. And the Conservancy concept of providing documentation to Gibbins family members, myself and Laura Gibbins, would be acceptable to us at this time to provide us with a list of places that have been preserved by the posthumous donation of Sid and Diane that we can show to future generations of their descendants.

Why I Give: Phil & Teri Martin

Phil and Teri Martin have lived in Sequim, WA since 2002.  Phil is originally from Madison, Wisconsin, and Teri is from North Bend, Oregon. 

We have been members of The Nature Conservancy for about 30 years. We greatly admire the way the Conservancy works with different stakeholders to arrive at solutions, bridging differences that seem insurmountable. In 1991 we made our first trip to Africa, and simply fell in love with it, having returned eight times. It was the only place we could go and truly immerse ourselves, entirely forgetting about work or other concerns.

In 2003, we established a Charitable Remainder Unitrust for The Nature Conservancy in which we designated East Africa as the region in which the funds were to be used, even though at the time TNC had no work there, or even any plans. But to our amazement and great satisfaction, within only a year or two, TNC had undertaken a number of projects there. We were very pleased to be able to meet with David Banks and Matt Brown, Conservancy representatives in Africa, when we were in Arusha, Tanzania on our most recent trip, and to hear from them firsthand about the many projects underway.

In addition to the CRUT, The Nature Conservancy is the major beneficiary in our estate planning, and we plan, in addition to the Africa work, to support efforts in our home states of Wisconsin and Oregon, and of course, our adopted state of Washington.

*Originally published on Leave 10

Helping My Kids Fall in Love With Nature




A summer spent growing up in the great outdoors

Written and Photographed by Adam Runions, Deputy Director of

I determined that this would be the summer in which my kids get to walk deeper into nature. My middle child is 5, and I wanted to throw a spark and see if it ignited an interest, a little fascination in the outdoors.

I also wanted to show him what he is capable of. Teaching him about carrying what you need, getting comfortable with the exposure of the night sky, a myriad new sounds and the sensation of wading into a dark lake. These little strides feel big, and can become the foundation for a healthy sense of independence.

Outfitted with a little backpack, a platypus, and a good stick, he made the trek up to Independence Lake (on Independence Day). I’m glad he did!


Meet our amazing Director of Philanthropy, Mary Kaufman-Cranney! 

The 2015 Professional Achievement Award winner!

Written by Meghan Wagner, Associate Director of Philanthropy 

We have amazing colleagues here at The Nature Conservancy and are so proud to honor one of our very own, Mary Kaufman-Cranney, Director of Philanthropy for our Washington Program. Mary brings energy, excitement and leadership to our Philanthropy team and most importantly, her work brings support and critical funding to our large-scale conservation projects both locally and globally. It was announced today that Mary is the winner of the prestigious 2015 Professional Achievement Award through AFP Advancement Northwest.

Mary joins a select group of Northwest leaders who have made a big impact in the social sector through fundraising and storytelling. She shares a deep commitment to mentoring others, is the embodiment of integrity, professionalism and excellence and is a Philanthropy superstar!

Mary’s leadership has spanned more than 25 years in our Seattle community. She is passionate about making an impact in our community through cause-driven organizations. She directed three major capital campaigns and secured over $60 million for youth development initiatives while the Senior Vice President of Financial Development at the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

Mary joined The Nature Conservancy in Washington in 2010 and has reinvigorated funding impact for critical conservation projects. Fundraising, at its core, is connecting people to the mission by first learning what ignites the passion in their hearts and then connecting those values to the impact they could make in the community. Mary helps donor visualize their values in action through her authenticity, and unwavering belief in the work of The Nature Conservancy’s mission. One of her great strengths is relationship building with board leaders, volunteers and our staff teams.

As a lifelong resident of Washington State, Mary has a strong connection to our lands and waters. Some of her most cherished and beloved memories are time spent with her family in nature or at her favorite lake cabin. She has experienced firsthand how nature can inspire and enrich lives and she brings that level of dedication and passion to the mission of The Nature Conservancy. 

Through her work at the Conservancy, she has traveled to Africa, Mexico, Great Sand dunes of Colorado, Alaska, and beyond. Whether she is helping with a science observation project tracking alligators in Mexico or staying in yurts in the African safari, Mary’s passion for her work comes through seeing the projects firsthand.

Please join us in congratulating Mary on this well-deserved recognition for her impact in our community!