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Gifts for the Future

After a life spent loving nature, Carolyn Knoll was inspired to make a gift to The Nature Conservancy in her will.

Carolyn Knoll
Carolyn Knoll Carolyn Knoll © Courtesy of Carolyn Knoll

Carolyn Knoll

Carolyn Knoll has always known that every dollar, every penny spent, adds up—and she is passionate about putting her money towards the causes that matter to her most. “I believe strongly in spending money where values match mine. It can be hard when you don’t have a lot of money, but every little bit helps, no matter how small—everyone can make a difference.”

Carolyn discovered The Nature Conservancy later in life, after moving to Hawaii where—in her 60s—she began a third career with the National Park Service as a park ranger. Carolyn loves the flora and fauna of Hawaii and is passionate about conserving it, but her love for nature began much earlier, and in a much different setting.


Carolyn fell in love with horses after taking her first horseback riding lesson as a child—and her love of nature grew with each ride. As she puts it, “If you’re gonna love horses, you’re gonna be riding on trails out in nature. The more time I spent on a horse, the more I became a person that loved being outside in nature.”

Having grown up in Los Angeles, Carolyn was often pegged as a “city girl.” But her time on horseback, as well as frequent camping trips in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, cemented her love of the outdoors, and as soon as she was old enough she moved to the more scenic San Francisco Bay Area.

Carolyn worked in residential and commercial real estate in the Bay Area, but after 40 years in the corporate world, she was ready for a change. She joined the Peace Corps, where she served as a community development volunteer for two years in Ukraine. Carolyn then moved back to the States, settling in Hawaii, where she was first introduced to the Conservancy.  


When she learned about a Conservancy project to “vacuum” invasive algae out of Kāne'ohe Bay, she began reading more about the organization. “I thought, ‘wow!’—I was so impressed with the creativity in how they work, in particular their international work and collaborative approach.”

She became more involved with the Conservancy, making regular donations, joining in on trips, meeting with partners. “The Conservancy works with people on all sides of the table. They sit down and figure out how everyone can work together and benefit each other.

Carolyn met with ranchers at Matador Ranch and Pine Butte in Montana who had partnered with the Conservancy. “Many of these ranchers look at conservation organizations with mistrust because of how they’ve been approached in the past. But they trusted the Conservancy, and partnered with the Conservancy, and were very positive about their experience.” Changing practices one farmer, one rancher, one community at a time, is one of the reasons that Carolyn believes the Conservancy is so successful. “Incremental steps are the only way to solve the conservation challenges we face.”

Everyone needs to consider what is important to them personally and then take a few steps to pass on those things.


Carolyn grew to admire the work being done so much that she decided to make a gift to the Conservancy in her will. Her meaningful gift made Carolyn a member of The Legacy Club, allowing her to enjoy exclusive benefits, events and insider information about the Conservancy’s work. But most importantly, Carolyn is creating her own legacy to help protect nature for generations to come.

“Everyone needs to consider what is important to them personally and then take a few steps to pass on those things,” says Carolyn. “That’s why I included The Nature Conservancy in my will. Nothing makes me feel more at peace than being out in nature.”  

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