Supporters like you are joining with Earthjustice to defend our wild places, our communities and our future.
They are people who have taken action through a gift in a will or trust or by beneficiary designation to make defending the environment a part of their enduring legacy.
Meet some of them here.
Scott Borden has supported Earthjustice since he first graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1978. In the beginning, his monthly checks were small — he was just out of college, after all — but his commitment to the organization was no less ardent than it is now, decades later.
“It’s important that a strong organization of professionals like Earthjustice is there to defend the environment, the animals, and the ecosystems that can’t speak for themselves,” says Borden, who lives in San Diego. “There’s no organization that does that better than Earthjustice.”
Borden’s support has come a long way since those early post-college days. While he continues to maintain monthly donations, he also has made Earthjustice a major beneficiary of his estate and his Individual Retirement Account (IRA), as well as his donor-advised fund succession plan.
As a passionate environmentalist, as well as an avid cyclist and occasional hiker, the fourth-generation Californian hopes to ensure that Earthjustice can continue to protect things he cares about, even after he’s gone.
“Earthjustice’s stability and strength of leadership ensures that they are going to be there for the long haul,” he explains. “The organization is very smart and very strategic — they don’t just chase the latest hot environmental issue, they choose which cases to be involved in to have the greatest impact.”
Borden notes that it took no more than a few minutes to make Earthjustice the beneficiary of his IRA. The process was only slightly longer for his estate. “You don’t have to look any further than the current political situation to see how important it is to support Earthjustice,” says Borden.
“I have always been interested in the outdoors and conservation. In the early 1970s, I worked hard advocating for the Eastern Wilderness Area Act. The forests were coming back & recovering – not pristine, but still in good shape.”
“Then in the mid to late 1970s, I helped protect the Irish Wilderness in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. We formed a committee, met with the Forest Service, and shared reports & photographs. This picture is of me in the Irish Wilderness, photographing the Eleven Point Scenic River.
When I heard about Earthjustice and its legal work to protect the environment, I started supporting them. While these days I can only write letters & make phone calls to my representatives, I know that the gift I’ve included for Earthjustice in my estate plan will help their attorneys save our wildlife and wildlands.”
Rosie Wigutoff owes her passion for the environment to her parents. Her father worked as a foreign fisheries specialist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and her mother, a lawyer, was the first female city councilwoman of Ketchikan, Alaska.
“They actively cultivated environmentalism in their children,” says Rosie. “Even the legal aspect of environmental protection is a family tradition that I keep up through my support of Earthjustice. Because my mother was a lawyer, I have a particular interest in the legal side of the work.” Her support of Earthjustice is driven by the realization that “if we don’t have good quality air and water, then we don’t have anything else.”
Over the years, Rosie has made many small contributions to Earthjustice, and she’s also signed petitions and written letters whenever asked. Her decision to leave a gift for Earthjustice in her will was made so long ago that she can’t even remember when the idea first occurred to her. “I love the partnership between Earthjustice and other environmental organizations. It creates tremendous leverage and it appeals to me to see groups working together to solve a problem.” Her decision to leave a gift has recently been reinforced by what she calls “the onslaught of corporate interests.” She adds, “I felt I wanted to do something very personal to preserve our environment in the face of that threat, and my bequest accomplishes that.”
Although she has a special interest in Central and South America because, as she puts it, “those areas need more help,” Rosie doesn’t feel the need to designate her bequest to any particular part of the world or issue. “I can’t give a lot of money now, but it gives me peace of mind to know that when my time comes, my money will go to an important cause,” she says. “I want Earthjustice to use the funds in a way that has the most impact at that particular time.”
“If we don’t have good quality air and water, then we don’t have anything else.”—Rosie Wigutoff, on what drives her support of Earthjustice
David and Alexis Colker
“Many of our best family memories involve experiencing the magnificent wild places of our country. We are impressed with the dedication of Earthjustice to ensuring the preservation of these precious and often endangered ecosystems. We also believe it is critical to enforce and improve our environmental, safety, and consumer laws because these impact all of us, no matter where we live. By including Earthjustice in our estate plans, we feel we are contributing to the long-lived mission of a truly exceptional organization.”
David and Alexis included Earthjustice in their family trust. Learn more about how you can make a special gift through your will or trust.
Dr. Lester Goldstein
“Without a doubt, I think of Earthjustice as being the most effective environmental organization on the legal front. I feel like we should give back, and legacy gifts are a very easy way to give. I know of no organization where the money is as well spent for the environment as it is at Earthjustice.”
Dr. Goldstein has established charitable gift annuities that provide him with guaranteed income for life and tax benefits.
Susan and Fred Fisher
“From the time Fred co-founded Earthjustice, the organization and the people associated with it have been tightly woven into our lives. As attorneys, Fred and I understood what lawyers can do on behalf of the environment and I know our bequest gift will help to keep that going. Our decision to include Earthjustice in our estate plans was very personal, very comfortable and seemed as natural as including other friends and family.”
“Creating laws is only the beginning of change; enforcing them is the other part, and that’s what Earthjustice does. I love the idea of giving a legacy to lawyers so that they can do what they need to do. By making a gift to Earthjustice, and supporting its unique position, our gift will go very far.”
“By making a gift to Earthjustice, and supporting its unique position, our gift will go very far.”—Susan Fisher
“I am primarily a realistic painter, and I love plein air painting. I just got back from a wonderful week of painting at Asilomar (on the central CA coast), where again I have been refreshed by the peaceful and meditative state brought by observing and interpreting nature’s forms. But I find increasingly that the sky is hazy and yellowed with pollution, and a larger percent of foliage is struggling for life. I include these changes in my paintings with the hope those viewing the paintings will become more aware and active in fighting to limit greenhouse gases.”
“My radio keeps me company as I eat meals at home. I am continually shocked by the tales of greed, corruption and short sightedness I hear on public and listener sponsored radio. Unless we make very big changes now, we will no longer have a livable world.
To more effectively fight for environmental justice and at the suggestion of my financial advisor, I have established a charitable annuity with Earthjustice. ‘Because the earth needs a good lawyer.'”
“I have been an animal and nature lover for most of my life – I am especially concerned for the polar bears, African elephants, and every species of ape and monkey. Therefore, many animal organizations are listed in my estate plans. I believe in so many things Earthjustice does that I added Earthjustice to the list of charitable beneficiaries in my will. While I am not able to make many donations anymore, I know that after my lifetime a meaningful gift will be left for Earthjustice.”
Dr. Gregory Maravelas
“Earthjustice is an inspiration! Why did I make my legacy gift? Where to begin. Let’s stay with fundamentals: clean air, unpoisoned water, uncontaminated soil. The desire for a healthy planet and a healthy environment in which to live a healthy, joyous life.”
It’s probably no surprise that a nature-loving lawyer would become a staunch supporter of Earthjustice. But the path Ben McClinton has taken through life — the path that sparked his dedication to Earthjustice — is anything but usual.
Only nine when he lost his parents, Ben was raised by his grandparents in northern Utah. “Many family gatherings included a trip up a canyon to picnic and hike,” he recalls. “I learned early on what treasures wild spaces are.” Later, most vacations were backpacking trips.
Ben’s commitment to wild places was cemented through two extensive, years’-long trips, one of which took him around the world. “I visited wildlife preserves in India and saw the degradation of the land through deforestation,” he says. “It was heartbreaking. That’s when I realized that when we protect nature, we do so not just for our country, but for the whole world.”
Ben’s real “aha” moment came later. “As a lawyer, I know how powerful effective legal advocacy can be — especially the kind Earthjustice provides against the Goliaths of government and acquisitive corporations.”
Passionate about Earthjustice’s work to prevent Utah’s Canyonlands National Park from becoming a highway for off-road vehicles, Ben praises Earthjustice’s approach of partnering with local groups — like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which he also supports. “The local group provides the knowledge of the community and its issues, and Earthjustice provides the legal and financial resources to effect change,” he explains.
Over the years, Ben and his wife have supported wilderness and environmental organizations, not just with activism, but with donations. As they began making provisions for what would happen when they pass away, they knew they wanted to leave most for protectors of the natural world. They decided to make a provision for Earthjustice.
“We believe in giving the children in our families many of the benefits of having money — things like education, health care and homes in good neighborhoods,” Ben explains. “But then they need to be on their own. Neither of us was born to wealth, but by living frugally and investing, we’ve saved enough to make a difference. Not a Warren Buffet difference, but a difference nonetheless. We choose to make a difference for the natural world, and believe Earthjustice can most effectively do that.”
“We choose to make a difference for the natural world, and believe Earthjustice can most effectively do that.”—Ben McClinton
“Through the years I have been fortunate to visit many national parks and other public lands. Hiking, backpacking, canoeing and biking have taken me on many adventures in the great outdoors. From the depths of Death Valley, to the summit of Mt. Rainier, and to the Appalachian Trail, I’ve developed an appreciation for wilderness.”
“There have always been those who want to develop government land for short term economic gain. They fail to see the true value that forests and lakes, mountains and streams, desserts and bogs, provide for the common good. Good lawyers and the courts make the final decisions on the future of wilderness. That’s why I give to Earthjustice.”
“I taught my family the importance of preserving our natural world and ways of coexisting with nature. Even though we never had a lot of money, we always supported environmental organizations and gave what we could. We especially support Earthjustice because they harness our most important tool, the law. What we choose to do with our charitable gifts, even if they are modest, can and should reflect our values. I wanted my gift to help the environment, which is why I set up a charitable gift annuity with Earthjustice. I like to know that, when I am gone, my gift will continue working to protect regions that are so dear to me.”
“I wanted my gift to help the environment, which is why I set up a charitable gift annuity with Earthjustice.”—Linda Schmidt
Alan Locklear and Marie Valleroy
“We have an old t-shirt from Earthjustice: an image of a spotted owl with the caption, ‘I’ve got a good lawyer.’ Wildlife, ecosystems, and other environmental causes need smart, dedicated attorneys. Earthjustice fills that need and we’re proud to support it.”
Alan & Marie have included a provision in their estate plans to benefit Earthjustice. Learn more about how you can make a special gift through your will or trust.
James and Mina
“We included Earthjustice in our estate plans because we believe in charitable giving. Helping get something done makes you feel good! We don’t need to feather our nest; our family is well taken care of and also knows that giving to charity is a great thing.”
James and Mina made plans to transfer assets in their bank accounts to Earthjustice after their lifetimes.
Isolee Smith, with her late husband Sandy, has been an Earthjustice member and supporter for more than four decades.
Her family connection to Earthjustice runs deep – her children are all committed environmentalists and two sons had long careers with Earthjustice.
“Our whole family has been interested in environmental issues for a long time,” shares Isolee. And she is also reminded of why conservation matters through another family connection she experiences every time she walks outside: “My husband’s great grandfather was the original settler out here. The property is home to quite a bit of wildlife, especially birds. So that reinforces my desire to maintain and protect the land and habitat.”
The Smiths found Earthjustice’s legal work to be a natural focus for their philanthropy. “My husband was an attorney before he retired and I was a court reporter, so we’re very comfortable with Earthjustice’s legal work.”
In addition to the Smith’s decades of membership, support, and engagement, in 2008, Isolee and Sandy decided to donate real estate – two apartment buildings – to Earthjustice by creating a charitable remainder unitrust (CRT). The trust makes payments of 5% of the value of the trust yearly for 15 years, after which the remaining funds will come to Earthjustice.
“A gift of real estate was something that we were comfortable with and worked well with our family situation. We liked the tax advantages, particularly being able to avoid capital gains taxes that would have been due if we had sold the property. And by the time we set up the trust, our children were educated, grown and on their own, so we didn’t have the same concerns with providing for them. It was a very good fit for us. We established the CRT in 2008 and I have been very happy with our gift since then.”