Legacy Stories

Meet Bill Ulfelder

Bill shares why he left a lasting gift to The Nature Conservancy.


A Sustainable Approach

As the New York Director for The Nature Conservancy, I have the honor to work every day to protect the lands and waters on which we all depend. My 17-year tenure with the Conservancy has allowed me to work on conservation programs all over the world—from Peru to Arizona, from Mongolia to the Caribbean.

I fell in love with nature at an early age, on hikes with my father and brother around Washington, D.C. and listening to my granddad’s stories of his work in the Amazon during World War II. During a summer in college I was given the opportunity to conduct research in Peru on the ways settlers along the Amazon River and its tributaries were using indigenous practices based on changing water levels to support their farming, fishing and subsistence hunting. It was a sustainable approach not being implemented elsewhere in the Amazon. I recall listening to the sounds of the forest and the villagers’ tales of their lives. It was that summer when I first knew my life’s work would be driven by the following question: “How do we find ways to protect our lands and waters and provide people with the opportunity to thrive economically?”

That question has been relevant to every assignment I have worked on with the Conservancy. In New York we know that the prosperity of people depends on the health of the natural world. Billion dollar industries in the state—tourism, recreation, farming, forestry, hunting and fishing—depend on clean air, clean water, and wild, open spaces. For this reason the first priority of The Nature Conservancy in New York is developing a clear conservation vision that makes efficient use of precious natural resources.

Leaving a Legacy to Ensure a Bright Future

Like most conservationists, thinking about the future well being of people and planet comes naturally. But now that I am a father the future holds special meaning: when I am gone from this Earth, who will carry on the mission to protect our beautiful planet for my daughter? When I look at Bella I think about what kind of world she will live in when she is grown. Ensuring our planet’s future for the next generation is the reason I joined The Legacy Club. I named The Nature Conservancy as beneficiary of my retirement plan because it is the best way I have to ensure a healthy world on behalf of future generations.

We face complex challenges now and in the years ahead: the pressures of our appetites for food, water and energy, as well as the unpredictable nature of climate change. The Nature Conservancy’s smart approach to these challenges makes me proud to work for the organization today, and to support its future as a member of The Legacy Club.

Information that may interest you ...

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