Faces of Conservation

When Barbara Hebner removed some trees in her back yard, she never expected her grandchildren to be devastated to the point of tears. But that was the reaction.

“I have nine grandchildren living nearby, and needed to expand the dining room so that we could sit together as a family,” shares Hebner, a retired Unitarian Universalist minister from Newark.  “However, I guess we’ve taught them well, because they really valued what was being lost in exchange for more family space.”

Her grandson Gabriel, age nine at that time, even expressed concern about the family’s carbon debt. Like many grandmothers, Hebner knew just what to do.

“I gave three of my grandchildren each a donation towards the Conservancy’s Add-A-Tree program to replace what had been removed,” comments Hebner.

The children even helped to plant the trees at the Conservancy’s Pemberton Forest Preserve.

“Mrs. Hebner was pleased to turn this situation into a positive model for community involvement, something that is very important to her family,” says Debbie Heaton, the Conservancy’s director of marketing and philanthropy in Delaware.

It turns out that planting trees to offset their footprint laid groundwork for future action when Hebner took a few of her grandchildren on a coming-of-age tour of the western United States in 2010. After the trip, the weary travelers made a contribution to The Nature Conservancy to offset greenhouse gasses emitted as a result of their flight to Las Vegas and bus tour to visit places like the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and Arches National Park.

It’s not unlike a thank you note sent upon receiving a gift.

“Donating to or volunteering with organizations like the Conservancy to offset our carbon footprint has become regular practice in our family – whether for travel or for electricity bills,” says Hebner. “We make a good faith effort. In fact, if I could leave a legacy, it would be that people understand this idea and make it a priority to balance their carbon books.”



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