An Inspired Gift
Poet and teacher Sandra Stark's lifelong passion for birds and natural landscapes inspired a gift to protect both.
Eyes on the Sky
Sandra Stark vividly remembers the moment nature captured her attention. As a 5-year-old traveling by ship with her family to Japan just after World War II, she saw flying fish for the first time. “They had fins that looked like wings,” recalls Stark.
She later wrote a poem about the experience, which sparked a lifelong fascination with birds and the intersection of sea and sky. "I became aware of the beauty taking place all around me," she says.
Stark later settled in Wisconsin, where she wrote poetry and taught communication skills in the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Business. She also volunteered for conservation groups, including The Nature Conservancy.
Now retired, she starts and ends each day on her back porch, where she uses binoculars to take a close look at the avian visitors who frequent her giant bird feeder. After years as a monthly TNC supporter, Stark made a gift to protect natural landscapes beyond her lifetime by naming the organization as a beneficiary of two retirement plans.
“TNC’s mission reflects my own values,” says Stark. “I like how staff members working locally have access to expertise and support from colleagues around the world. It enables TNC to do more good than most organizations I know.”