Guardian of beauty

Phoebe Cowles

“EDF is a most effective organization. I’m so pleased with this opportunity to make a difference.”

One of Phoebe Cowles’ earliest and fondest memories is of walking through the prairies with her mother, gathering wildflowers.

“There was bear grass, Indian paintbrush – I was captivated by the beauty,” the Washington state native recalls of the outings. Thus began a lifelong love of wild places and natural splendor – and a strong desire to protect them.

Over the years, Phoebe has watched with increasing concern as climate change, spiraling emissions and urban sprawl have irrevocably changed the natural world.

“We see the oceans rising, temperatures increasing and greater storms,” she says. “We must act now to reduce the cause and mitigate the effects.”

This year Phoebe embraced cutting edge change when she provided core funding to advance EDF’s drive to help Washington state hit its new climate targets and become a national model for strong, enforceable limits on carbon emissions.

“This is an efficient way to reduce human impact on the environment,” she says.

She hopes the work can provide a blueprint for other states and pave the way for more collaboration on emissions reductions on the West Coast and beyond.

A gift to the future

Bob and Leslie Cutler

“Leaving a planned gift to EDF is a gift to future generations.”

Love of the land runs deep in Bob Cutler’s blood, particularly from his mother, whom Bob also credits with instilling in him an activist’s commitment to giving back. This is evident in the arc of his life: from a stint working on a farm in New England in his youth to the extensive volunteer work he has done for years with his wife, Leslie.

“We only have one planet, and we have to take care of it,” he says. “Climate change is the most critical issue.”

Leslie shares Bob’s connection to nature. Together, they have hiked, biked and cross-country skied in natural places across their home state of Colorado and beyond. Longtime EDF supporters, they decided to deepen their commitment by making a planned gift.

“EDF takes the science and then provides solutions to communities to help them see things in a different way,” says Leslie. Adds Bob, “They are effective using their significant influence globally and with major companies to get things done.”

Fittingly, the gift honors Bob’s mother. Bob talks of how easy it was to work with EDF staff to structure the gift to fit their situation.

“It’s so exciting to think about the potential impact of this gift,” he says.

For a better world

Marcia Mellinger and John McAlvay

“The idea that there are so many smart and committed people working at EDF to make our world a better place gives us hope.”

“John and I are lifelong outdoors people,” says Marcia Mellinger. “And we are concerned that because of our changing climate, our grandchildren will not be able to enjoy the same wonderful outdoor experiences that we grew up with.”

A lifetime spent hiking, camping and, for John, fly fishing, too, has forged that love of nature and strong desire to make a difference. EDF’s practical approach partnering with business to create win-win solutions particularly resonated with Marcia and John. They were inspired to support the EDF Climate Corps program, which trains graduate students and pairs them with companies and public institutions looking to reduce their climate impact.

“Being able to support the experts who are addressing the things you feel so strongly about is very appealing,” says Marcia.

They were certainly thinking of the future when they named one of their gifts to EDF in honor of their new grandson. Knowing that their generosity will translate into a better world for future generations means a great deal to them both.

Saving small-scale fisheries

Oak Foundation

“It is profoundly inspiring to be a part of lifting up fishers through our investment in EDF.”

Imani Fairweather Morrison, program officer at Oak Foundation, remembers the day when local fishers in Belize decided to close the fishing season early because they had reached the seasonal limit.

“To see them make the decision on their own showed that they understood their role in maintaining the fishery — and their future — as well as their power as a collective to benefit the industry,” she says.

For the foundation, empowering local voices and talent is the key to building a rights-based management system for small-scale fisheries. And it is one important reason that Oak has partnered with EDF for more than a decade. According to Imani, the foundation understands that lasting fishery reform cannot happen overnight — which is why it commits to a place or issue for years.

“EDF’s sense of care and respectful approach toward local partners are squarely aligned with our mission,” she says. “And we appreciate EDF’s willingness to learn from those on the ground.”

Imani says the foundation is now especially excited to see how the successes and knowledge gained from the work in Belize and other places can be rapidly scaled to small-scale fisheries around the world.

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