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Indiana

Meet the Meyers

A reach around the globe

The Meyer family came together again in 2012 to make gifts to the Africa Program, specifically the acquisition of land at LEWA, in response to a challenge match made by one of Bob’s colleagues on the Indiana Chapter Board of Trustees. What started out as one gift of $25,000 -- that the three of them might split -- quickly became three gifts of $25,000 each when his sisters became enthused about the project. Their gifts leveraged an additional $75,000 for the acquisition, for a total of $150,000.

 

Bob Meyer’s lifelong passion for nature and the great outdoors took root in his youth.

“One of my earliest memories of being in nature was when my father took me hiking at Pine Hills. I don't know whether The Nature Conservancy had acquired the property yet, I suspect not and that he had some sort of access permission from the owner at that time,” says Bob Meyers. “I'm sure that single one-on-one, outdoor adventure with my dad had a big impact on my love of nature and outdoor activities.”

Bob’s dad also regaled him with stories of all the fun he had in Boy Scouts, and reminisced about a late high school trip he made with his Shortridge High School buddies out west.

“Dad’s happiest times were always out of doors in some activity. He loved scouts and the appreciation it gave for individual self-sufficiency and the value of nature for its own sake as well as how it benefited people,” Bob shares. “Since childhood, my mother loved the out of doors, gardening and nature just as much, since childhood and she spent as much time outside as our climate permitted.”

Bob remembers family trips to Pine Hills, the Indiana Dunes, Brown County, Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, the Canadian Rockies and the Cascades. His passion for the outdoor experience grew and it now takes him to new heights.

Bob is an avid mountain climber – he has climbed Mt. McKinley twice and reached the summit in June 2004. He’s also a long-distance biker and hiker. His wife Gayle and two daughters share Bob’s passion and are dedicated world travelers/hikers. They have explored many Nature Conservancy properties and projects in North, Central, and South America.

The Conservancy connection

It isn’t by accident that the Meyers have travelled to these Conservancy destinations. Bob’s father, Fred, was instrumental in establishing the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in the 1960s, and Bob’s mother Dorothy shared his passion for the outdoors.

“Unfortunately, I don't really know what prompted Dad to get involved with The Nature Conservancy. It was quite a young, small, all-volunteer organization back then,” Bob relates. “I do know that the family made a trip or two to the Indiana Dunes where we camped and had long talks with Tom Dustin and his wife about the work of the Save the Dunes Council. This may have led Dad to the TNC.
“I also remember trips to Bloomington to meet with Lynton Caldwell (IU professor) and his family. Dad may have gotten connected to TNC through Dr. Caldwell. I recall many weekend days or evenings when Dad would make appointments to call on potential Indiana TNC donors and how pleased he was when the chapter was able to acquire Pine Hills.”

Like father like son

Fred Meyer assumed many roles with the Indiana Chapter. He was a Trustee in the 1960s, including being chair of the chapter on several occasions, especially from 1961 through 1963. He also served as newsletter editor in 1972, and continued as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1973 - 1978. He was a Life Trustee from 1978 until his death in 1996.

Dorothy Meyer passed away in 2009. The boardroom in the Indiana Chapter's Efroymson Conservation Center is named in his parent’s honor, as a joint gift from Bob and his sisters.

Bob, too, has been active with the Indiana Chapter Board of Trustees, joining the board in 1998. He was elected treasurer in 2001 and served for two years; he was elected chair in June 2005 and served an additional two years.

“Frankly, it was just easy and natural for me to follow my father into TNC. He believed in science and fact-based decision making, though in his later years he got rather frustrated that society was not acting fast enough to halt and reverse the damage being done to the natural world,” Bob says. “I know today, he would be very skeptical of the climate change doubters!"

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