Purple blazing star wildflowers in bloom at Disney Wilderness Preserve in Central Florida.
Wildflowers in Bloom Purple blazing star (liatris spp) dot the landscape at Disney Wilderness Preserve. © Zachary Prusak/TNC

Newsroom

The Hixon Family Gift $3 Million for Environmental Protection and Stewardship Efforts in Florida

The philanthropic contribution builds on the Hixon family’s 40-year relationship with TNC and their long-standing commitment to preserving Florida’s vulnerable lands.

Joe and Renate Hixon at Disney Wilderness Preserve in Central Florida.
Joe & Renate Hixon TNC Florida is deeply grateful for the Hixon's generous gift. © Roberto Gonzalez
Today, the Hixon Family deepened their lifelong commitment to preserving Florida’s vulnerable lands through a $3 million gift to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Florida. The multimillion-dollar gift—which is anchored by former TNC trustee Joseph Hixon and his wife Renate—is transformational, enabling the launch of The Hixon Environmental Stewardship Program and a supporting endowment, providing for new state-of-the-art programs at TNC’s flagship preserves in Florida and engaging and educating the next generation of conservationists.

The donation lays the foundation for the establishment of TNC’s soon-to-be-announced Center for Conservation Initiatives, a new network of connected campuses for education, training, science, stewardship, and public outreach, currently in development. Additionally, the gift supports habitat management and restoration on TNC lands.

“For over 40 years, my family and I have witnessed the need to restore, protect, and conserve Florida’s natural lands, a mission that is at the core of our environmental advocacy across the state and central to our relationship with The Nature Conservancy,” said Joseph Hixon, who first joined TNC’s Florida Chapter as a trustee in 1984. “This gift is our family’s contribution to future generations of Floridians to ensure that many will reap the benefits of our environment and become careful stewards of our state’s natural wonders. It is our hope that this contribution will spark and inspire more donations and support for the critical work of protecting Florida’s lands, a mission we can all unite behind.”

To expand the legacy of the Hixon family and create long-term and far-reaching impact, the Hixon Environmental Stewardship Program and supporting endowment will extend TNC’s ability to engage, mentor, and train conservationists, fire managers, and land stewards in critical land management best practices through TNC’s new Center for Conservation Initiatives. The Hixon gift also underwrites land steward internships at The Nature Conservancy’s Preserves, providing a unique hands-on experience for students embarking on conservation careers and supporting organizational capacity to burn an additional 250,000 acres throughout the state, critical to fire dependent habitats and wildlife. Since 1962, TNC has been a leader in prescribed fire, which is a practice that carefully and tactically uses fire as a tool to maintain and restore the health of the natural environment. TNC projects that the $3 million Hixon gift will impact and directly benefit thousands of students and professionals across Florida for years to come.

Hixon Family Portrait Take a journey to the Hixon's St. Mary River Ranch near Jacksonville as the family members speak about their deep commitment to land conservation in Florida and their profound connection to the land.

“The Hixons are true conservation leaders with a longstanding personal commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “The Nature Conservancy is grateful to the Hixon family for their generous gift, and as longtime friends and supporters of our work, we are appreciative of their partnership as we continue in our pursuit to preserve Florida’s lands and cultivate the next generation of environmental stewards.”

The $3 million gift underscores the Hixon family’s dedication to Florida’s iconic wildlife, lands and waters, which can be traced back to when Joseph Hixon first joined the Board of Trustees of TNC’s Florida Chapter in 1984, serving as Board Chair from 1996-1999 and co-chairing the chapter’s first capital campaign. Since then, he has been a leader in advocating for holistic environmental protection measures, most notably when he served on former Governor Bob Martinez’s Commission on the Future of Florida’s Environment.

His involvement was integral to the creation of Florida’s comprehensive land conservation programs—Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever—which have collectively led to the protection of more than 2.4 million acres of land across the state. In addition to his work on behalf of TNC as a Board member, Joe and Renate have completed five conservation easements on their St. Marys River Ranch Property in Nassau County as well as conservation easements on their Idaho ranch, all of which were donated to TNC, forever protecting the lands from development and preserving the landscape.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.