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Donors Rob Dejournett and Jennifer O’Daniel

Paying it Forward for Their Daughter

Rob Dejournett is especially impressed by our work on Bluff Mountain.

“It is more about her than it is about us,” the couple says about their daughter, with respect to giving to TNC. 

When Rob Dejournett was growing up in Hawaii, he learned to love the outdoors. “I grew up outside,” he explains. “That’s what you do in Hawaii.”

Today, he and his wife Jennifer O’Daniel enjoy hiking, biking, and gardening. They also love taking their six-month old daughter Jenelle for walks. Being outside has a positive effect on her; “Walking calms her down when she is fussy,” says Jennifer.

When they were deciding where to live and raise a family, Jennifer, who is a medical physicist, had numerous job offers. The two chose Durham in part because of the distinct four seasons North Carolina has to offer. Rob works in health care information technology at Rex Hospital. Jennifer is a professor of radiation oncology at Duke University.

The value of giving

Rob’s godmother Grace Ihara was a big part of his life. A speech pathologist, Ihara had no immediate family by blood. However, in Hawaii, the concept of extended family - “ohana” - is very dominant and she was a heavy influence on Robert’s early life. She was also a Buddhist. “She talked about being kind to the earth,” Rob says. “She felt that your ancestors are always a part of that. And she was very giving.”

That giving carried over into her estate decisions, leaving Rob money in her will. Rob payed the giving forward, contributing to the Conservancy. “We don’t have a lot of needs. This is one of the best things we can do with our lives and this gift.”

He chose the Conservancy because “preserving and protecting the land from human encroachment is a life goal of mine, and the Conservancy’s goals align perfectly with mine.”

“There are intangible benefits to land conservation,” he adds. “You have to do what’s right in your heart.”   

Why give now?

Rob, who has an undergraduate degree in ecology and a PhD in biomedical science, has a pragmatic reason for giving now. “Now is the time to acquire land. Now is the time when gifts will do the most good. Land is much cheaper than it used to be.”  Further, his goal of species conservation, fermented by his training in ecology, is shared by the Conservancy.

Then there is little Jenelle – the biggest reason. “My children – my children’s children – can appreciate this work,” he explains.  “I want to be sure that Janelle will be able to point to a place and say ‘That place will remain intact for me thanks to the Conservancy’.”

Jennifer agrees. “It is more about her than it is about us.” 

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