Important places merit special names
By Ann Connors, Development Director
— This article was originally printed in the Fall 2016 issue of our newsletter, The Twig. See a PDF of the complete newsletter. —
One thing is clear when you get involved with Sycamore Land Trust—we are all in this together. Sycamore’s ability to protect the unique and valuable landscapes of southern Indiana depends on the generous support of those who are able to make contributions of funds, land, or time. Memberships at $40 per year are the bedrock of our support, while major gifts of $5,000 or more make the kind of lasting impact that merits further recognition. Over the past year, trees, benches, preserves, and endowments have been named in honor of these donors or their loved ones. It’s one way that we can show our gratitude for the generosity that keeps us moving forward.
On August 5, we celebrated a very special occasion: the formal dedication of the Brunning-Gerster Prairie Garden at Sycamore’s Cedar Crest headquarters in Bloomington, followed by a reception in honor of donor Darlene Gerster and her family and friends. We asked Darlene to tell us about her connection to Sycamore and what it means to have the Prairie Garden named after her and her late husband, Jerry Brunning.
What appeals to you about Sycamore Land Trust?
“I feel so grateful to have grown up in rural Indiana, on a corner acre of my grandparents’ farm. I was surrounded by open farmland and woodlands. What I love most about Sycamore is that you share the space. You protect, restore, educate, and you share. You share the space and you share all that you know about the natural world. You have created a community of stewardship by reaching out and inviting everyone in.”
Why did you choose to donate your house to Sycamore?
“Two years after my husband died, I felt ready to move on. I wanted to live in Indianapolis nearer my family. But I hated the prospect of putting our home in town on the market and dealing with showings. I thought, I wish I could hand the key to someone and walk out the door. Sycamore was my first thought, so I called [Executive Director] Christian Freitag and we sat and talked for quite a while about the future of Sycamore. I thought that giving our house to Sycamore to sell and use the proceeds to support their mission, could be a win-win for Sycamore and for me.”
What does it mean to you that the Prairie Garden at Sycamore headquarters will be named for you and your late husband?
“It’s hard to put this in words, but … I have very deep roots in Indiana. I have traced my family history, been the caretaker of many items that were passed down from those I never knew, and walked in some of the spaces they once did. Jerry and I spent the last six years of our life together in Bloomington. At the risk of overusing a metaphor, I have been able to grow new branches because of these roots. No matter where I am, I will know that this prairie will bloom every year. It will bloom after I leave this life, just as Sycamore will always be here. It is an honor to be invited to place our names here, to be a part of the community stewardship.”