Bequest Stories

If you want to protect the lands and waters you care about, but cannot make a gift today, you can still leave a legacy that reflects your individual values by including The Nature Conservancy in your will, estate plan or as a beneficiary of another asset or a family foundation. It is easy to make a charitable bequest. And bequests let you retain control of your assets during your lifetime.

Teresa and Robert Burkett wanted to leave a gift that would have a lasting impact on the natural world that they care so deeply about, so they took the simple steps to name The Nature Conservancy as a beneficiary of their family foundation. Like the Burketts, when you make a gift through your estate to The Nature Conservancy and let us know about your gift, you become a member of The Legacy Club—a special group of visionary supporters who have chosen to stand up for the future of the natural world. 

Their Story

When Teresa Burkett describes the experiences she and her husband Robert enjoy at Oklahoma’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, there is no mistaking their deep love of the land, and of Oklahoma especially. “We sleep in the bunkhouse, get up at 4:00 a.m., hike out and lie in the grass to wait for the prairie chickens to do their booming [mating ritual],” she says. “It is just a priceless experience. We call it our ‘home preserve’ because the place is so special to us.”

Teresa and Robert also travel all over the United States and the world, but they say they are always happy to return home. Their favorite way to explore is by canoe, and it seems they are often returning from or planning their next water adventure.

Teresa’s connection to nature was passed on to her by her father, a Soil Conservation Service scientist who took her on research expeditions. A love of nature wasn’t the only thing she inherited from him—she also cultivated a keen interest in science. She says it is the science behind the Conservancy’s work that is a key reason she and Robert named the Conservancy as a beneficiary of their family foundation.

Though she did not become a scientist, she turned her dedication to nature into action using her expertise as a lawyer. She was instrumental in getting conservation easement legislation written and passed in Oklahoma in 1999. When she learned (during a Legacy Club trip to Montana’s Pine Butte Swamp Preserve) that the Conservancy used conservation easements all over the country to protect land— but couldn’t in Oklahoma—she focused on figuring out how to change that. It turned out that her position as a volunteer for the state bar association’s Uniform Laws Committee gave her the perfect opportunity to do something.

Teresa also reached out to all stakeholders, including local oil and gas utility companies, and encouraged them to lend their support to the legislation. It took four years and countless meetings with conservation organizations and the Oklahoma legislature, but in the end, her perseverance paid off.

“The highlight for me of seeing the conservation easement legislation come to fruition is seeing the amount of land we have been able to protect, especially along our rivers and streams,” she says. “Tulsa’s water supply sources are protected while leaving the land in private ownership.”

Teresa is pleased to have been able to leave this legislation as one of her legacies, along with the contribution to the Conservancy that she and Robert have made together. “We support the Conservancy so that it can continue to protect important natural places,” she says. “That is what we can do to leave our imprint on this Earth. We don’t have children to carry on our values, so we are counting on the Conservancy to do that.”

Information that may interest you ...

Find out more about making a gift through your will.

Travel with us on one of our Legacy Club trips.

Have you left the Conservancy in your will? Let us know.

You can protect rivers and other natural places by making a planned gift with The Nature Conservancy. Contact us today.