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Legacy Stories

Marianne Phillips

“The Conservancy is honest, but hopeful, and they make me think we have a chance to be successful stewards of our environment.”

The Nature Conservancy’s Legacy Club members are visionary individuals whose generosity is vital to the future success of our conservation programs and actions. We are grateful to the thousands of people who have become Legacy Club members over the years; we now are celebrating our 20,000th member, Marianne Phillips!

Like so many Legacy Club members, Marianne remembers being concerned about the environment at a young age. As a teenager, she was even motivated enough to write to Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day. She wrote simply to express her admiration for the powerful environmental advocate, and says that his response encouraged her to stay interested and involved.

Her concern for nature is even stronger today. And while she says she is not the “outdoorsy type,” she has visited national parks across the United States and traveled to spectacular natural places all over the world. Traveling, in fact, is a particular passion of hers—along with a strong interest in physical fitness and she even holds a masters degree in health education. Her other hobbies include photography, gardening and music. Recently, she even challenged herself to begin Celtic harp lessons!

Marianne is also passionate about social issues, such as women’s reproductive rights worldwide. For her, preserving the Earth and maintaining the quality of human life are inextricably linked.

“When I joined The Nature Conservancy, my feelings about the future of our natural world brightened considerably,” she remembers. “The Conservancy is honest, but hopeful, and they make me think we have a chance to be successful stewards of our environment.

In addition to giving her a deep sense of possibility and hopefulness, Marianne thinks the Conservancy’s approach is truly pragmatic and extremely well-informed. She likes that the Conservancy works with local people to find mutually beneficial conservation solutions. “They know you can’t just put a fence around a natural area if you want long-term protection. You have to be realistic.” 

For Marianne, who does not spend a lot of her everyday life out in nature, answering the question of “why protect nature?” is simple. She cites a Wallace Stegner quote: “Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed ... We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”

That, she says, truly embodies her reason for including the Conservancy in her will. Just knowing that such places exist, she says, enriches her life.

“I do think that my bit of support to the Conservancy will make a difference in the future,” she says. “As many Native Americans believe, we have to think about the kind of world we are leaving to the next generations; I want them to have the same chance to see and benefit from the natural world in all its magnificent diversity.”


You can leave a legacy for nature. Learn about our Legacy Club.

Find out more about gifts through your bequest.

Let us know your plans! If you have left the Conservancy in your estate plans we would like to thank you and ensure your wishes can be met.

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