At their home in rural Sonoma County, Carolyn Johnson and her husband Rick Theis recently spoke with the Observer about why they support PRBO Conservation Science. "CJ" is PRBO's Board President and a biologist and philanthropist. Her husband Rick is the founder of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy, based in Santa Rosa.
|CJ and Rick. PRBO photo by Claire Peaslee.|
CJ and Rick, you certainly are active with PRBO. How did you first become involved?
CJ: I had been aware of PRBO in a general way for years. But it wasn't until 1984, while I was helping clean up oiled birds after the USS Puerto Rican spill, that I grasped the scientific nature of PRBO's work and its importance for the protection of birds and habitats. I've been a birder since childhood and introduced Rick to both birding and PRBO!
How did PRBO become such an important part of your charitable giving?
CJ: As a life-long birder growing up in Marin, it's no surprise that PRBO came to my attention. I liked what they were doing and became a member. About ten years ago, we decided to let PRBO know that we would make an annual donation that they could count on.
Rick: That was a real turning point for us, because our commitment drove us to take a bigger interest in what PRBO was doing. As we visited some PRBO research sites and talked to biologists, our appreciation for their work grew.
CJ: Suddenly, PRBO wasn't just another envelope in which to send a donation at the end of the year--it was more like a family. That's when we decided to give appreciated stock to PRBO: not only did this support something we loved; it had the added benefit of lightening our tax burden. PRBO is an organization we trust and admire, especially for the ways it supports land managers making the best possible decisions, based on science, to protect our precious environment.
Rick: We've recently decided to include PRBO in our estate planning. We feel it's important that PRBO has a secure future and is able to continue its important research. And, of course, CJ now serves on the Board of Directors, so she is also contributing her time to the organization.
Are there particular PRBO projects that interest you?
CJ: I think that a lot of people who support PRBO may be drawn to the Farallon Islands work, or the banding studies at Palomarin, or the migrating Bar-tailed Godwits, or Adelie Penguins in Antarctica... but honestly, I can't pick just one. PRBO's work is all so important in guiding habitat restoration, ecosystem-based management, policy, and education in terrestrial, wetland, and marine ecosystems.
Given the number of other organizations, why support PRBO?
Rick: It's certainly true that lots of requests for support from non-profits arrive in the mail. And we do support many. However, we have chosen to focus on PRBO for a number of reasons.
We are especially concerned about the pressures being placed on habitat and biological diversity by, among other things, urban sprawl and climate change. We feel so fortunate to have PRBO's decades of research being used to determine what we should do now to respond to future conditions. Their conservation science dovetails well with our interest in environmental protection.
CJ: We are excited and proud to be associated with PRBO and some of the best minds in science and leadership, prepared to address the uncertainties of our future. PRBO's ability to advance the conservation of biodiversity in a rapidly changing world is a result of their dedication to gathering and analyzing data for over 40 years. Our estate planning includes PRBO because we think it is important for PRBO to continue to be a leader in conservation science for the next 40 years. We know our contributions to PRBO will get an excellent return on our charitable investment.