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Minnesota

Why I Give: One Donor’s Story

For Robert Kennedy, giving is about protecting natural areas for future generations. The former president of the University of Maine, Robert resides in Central Minnesota and serves as a Conservancy trustee. 

 “I grew up on a farm in Minnesota and that kind of life gave me an appreciation for nature,” Robert said. “So much of my thoughts and even my career have been dedicated to young people and the future and the sustainability of our planet. 

After his brother Tim passed away, Robert, his brother Joel and their sister LuAnn Refsland, decided they would donate Tim’s estate to The Nature Conservancy. “It would fulfill Tim’s desire and fits what we want to do as well,” Robert said 

Read Robert Kennedy’s story below and then share your own story to inspire others as you have inspired us!


nature.org:Why do you give to The Nature Conservancy?

Robert Kennedy: The Nature Conservancy is the preeminent conservation organization. When you think about nature, conservation and sustainability, the Conservancy comes to mind. The Conservancy is dedicated to the sustainability of our environment and our future.

nature.org: What is your favorite place in nature?

Robert Kennedy: That’s a hard one. My wife Mary and I have lived in eight different states and traveled all over the United States and internationally. But the Brainerd Lakes area in Minnesota has become one of the most important places for me and my family. It’s a very rich area in terms of its natural diversity and just an area we’ve gotten to love with great passion.

nature.org: Tell us about your favorite memory or experience in nature?

Acadia National Park in Maine is another of our favorite places and it means an awful lot because our family has spent a lot of time there. Last year, my 2-year-old grandson Quinn was able to go on hikes with us and toddle along. That’s a great memory. We’ve already made plans to do it again next summer.

nature.org: What is your holiday wish for nature?

Robert Kennedy: I would hope that most people in their holiday plans or their giving would include some element of our natural world – whether it’s feeding the birds during the winter or just getting outside and into nature.

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