The Shooting Star Society looks beyond, to the growing seasons ahead, sowing planned gifts to ensure bountiful future harvests from a healthy, growing endowment. And they leave a legacy that will flower for the entire life cycle of Indian Creek Nature Center.
Indian Creek Nature Center honored its Shooting Star Society members, both present and absent, at a luncheon on September 22. Shooting Stars, as we affectionately call them, are friends who have included the Nature Center in their estate plans – often in their wills – and/or have set up an endowed fund to benefit ICNC. The Shooting Star Society enhances the general health of the Nature Center by planting seeds that will grow into enduring gifts.
The plant version of the shooting star, featured in our Shooting Star Society logo, is a member of the primrose family. The flower is unique in its shape – just as each of our Shooting Stars found their unique way to leave a lasting impression on the Nature Center. Only in healthy prairies and woodland edges do shooting stars flower.
Some Shooting Star Society members have created endowed funds that currently benefit ICNC – and will do so for the life of the organization through annual distributions. Those gifts beautify our prairies with flowering plants, provide opportunities for preschoolers to learn in nature and generally support the Nature Center as it serves the community’s evolving needs. Life begins with the planting of seeds. Seeds, nurtured by earth, water and sun, germinate. With time, fertile soil and ideal conditions, plants thrive.
In December 2011, longtime preschool teacher and ICNC preschool teacher-naturalist Kathleen Jane Hall established an endowed fund, named the Dorothea and Joseph Hall Gift of Wonder Fund for Indian Creek Nature Center, to honor the memory of her parents. Annual distributions from Kathy’s fund enable ICNC to “provide positive nature experiences for low income and challenged children who often lack access to the beauty of our natural heritage.” This funding provides financial support for these children, ranging from transportation to program fee coverage. Sadly, Kathy passed away in February 2022, but not before she saw her investment at work: nurturing young children who would otherwise face barriers to ICNC nature experiences. Kathy’s legacy and passion for the wellbeing and education of young children lives on through her endowed, designated fund.
Establishing an endowed fund is not within reach for everyone. But most of us can include favorite nonprofits in a will, as life insurance or retirement fund beneficiaries, or in a myriad of other ways. And, in the process, do good in our community for the benefit of current and future generations of people – and maybe even plants and animals, too!
October is National Financial Planning Month, and October 17-23 is this year’s National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Combined, these two designations remind us of the need to look toward our financial future: How do I best care for myself and my needs for the rest of my life? How do I best look after those closest to me? Can I financially support the nonprofit organizations that mean the most to me, while also taking care of myself and my loved ones? If you need assistance with your estate planning process, a good resource is the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC), which can provide those professionals in our area who have an Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) or Estate Planning Law Specialist (EPLS) designation.