In 2004, my family moved to Alabama from Arizona. While we lived in Arizona, we enjoyed traveling all around the state to enjoy some of our country’s most unique natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and the Saguaro National Park. By recent count, my husband and I have been to the Grand Canyon over twenty times, and yet I will never get over the sense of wonder I feel when I step up to the South Rim and peer into that great chasm. I am reminded of those visionary leaders who came before me and who knew that the Grand Canyon was indeed a special place that should be protected for the future generations of Americans who would follow.
In the same way, Alabama is an incredibly unique place, full of natural beauty and a unique biodiversity that isn’t present anywhere else in the United States. When I think about protecting our beautiful natural habitat, I can’t help but think about how these investments bear striking similarities to investing in an endowment.
First, both environmental stewardship and endowment investments encourage delayed gratification. We know that it is simply responsible to delay acting on all of our current impulses, recognizing that not every idea is a good one. We could develop every square inch of our favorite places, but we know that would not be wise. Likewise, investing in an endowment is an intentional action to delay the impulse to spend all of our charitable dollars now, recognizing that sometimes investments can reap more benefits over the long haul.
Second, both environmental stewardship and endowment investments are future-focused. Although there are plenty of current benefits to funding environmental conservation, the main point is to protect our area’s beautiful places so that they will still be beautiful and special 100 years from now. Likewise, an investment in an endowment yields current dividends but is intended to create a permanent pool of community capital that will last forever.
Finally, both environmental stewardship and endowment investments create opportunities today that will continue to reap benefits tomorrow. When we are intentional about protecting what matters, we are making an investment that will continue to benefit our communities both tomorrow and forever.
As we protect our region’s special places, we are protecting the future of our community for those who will follow us. After all, North Alabama is a pretty special place that deserves to be stewarded well.