Why We Give

Perry Patterson and Joel Leander

Supporting The Nature Conservancy makes sense for Perry Patterson and Joel Leander. They love being outdoors – hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring. It also makes sense professionally. Patterson retired from Wake Forest University, where he was a professor of economics. Leander is a retired attorney, who has helped clients with estate planning.

The couple recently moved to a home on the South River near Beaufort. They were attracted to the area because of nature. “When we started sailing, this is where we took our first overnight trip,” Patterson explained. “Every few months we see a bald eagle. We see dolphins and fish and crabs. We see tons of ospreys.”

“It looks like a national park,” Patterson said recently while taking a short boat trip along the South River, with its miles of relatively undeveloped shoreline.

The two visit many national parks, but they also have a Nature Conservancy bucket list. Whenever they are near a site with Conservancy ties, they visit. Last year that meant taking a detour toward Wilmington on their way south for Christmas in Florida to visit the Conservancy’s Boiling Spring Lakes and Green Swamp preserves. They also went on a Conservancy paddle trip on the Roanoke River this past spring. “The Conservancy should publish a checklist, so that we can check each preserve off as we visit,” Leander suggested.

The two enjoy traveling, but their visits underscore the need for conservation around the globe. “It is a big world, and it is a big task to deal with the changing world,” Patterson explained. “Everywhere we go, we are confronted with habitat degradation or global warming. Even here on the South River, we see evidence of environmental damage. We’ve got to take action. The Nature Conservancy is at the top of our list. The Conservancy is always cooperatively seeking win-win situations.”

The two are members of the Conservancy’s Legacy Club. The Legacy Club is a group of Nature Conservancy supporters who have made a lasting commitment to conservation by making a life-income gift with the Conservancy or by naming the Conservancy as a beneficiary in their estate plans. One of the benefits of the Legacy Club is going on special trips to some of the Conservancy’s signature projects across the globe. “I’ve always been a big believer in charitable donations after death,” Leander explained. “It is the perfect opportunity to do some very good work.”

Last year, Patterson and Leander visited the Galapagos with the Legacy Club. Clearly, the island’s namesake tortoises were a big draw, but, so too was the chance to see how the Conservancy interacts on the ground. “We visited a project that has nothing to do with land acquisition,” Leander explained. “The Conservancy is working with people who live nearby, helping them improve agricultural practices.”

Patterson says that putting the Conservancy in their will is a practical way to satisfy their love of the outdoors while using the lessons they have learned in their respective professions.  “We love nature. I’m an economist and Joel is a lawyer, The Nature Conservancy is just a very good fit.”



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