A Heritage of Land Stewardship

by Ann Connors, Development Director

This article originally appeared in the summer 2019 issue of The Twig, our member newsletter. To see more articles and past issues, click here.

Del and Letty Newkirk’s love of land and animals has been a lifelong passion. Del grew up on a farm in Columbus, IN, and for decades the couple has worked diligently to preserve and restore their beloved 100-acre wooded Brown County property, where they lived for many years.

“I learned hard work and land stewardship from my dad,” Del recalls. “He took care of the land because he was a farmer. An organic farmer before that was a thing. We used manure for fertilizer and hoes for weed control. And he was very concerned about anything washing out into the water.”

The Newkirks have passed these land stewardship values, “respect for birds, land, soil, and the environment,” to their children, Liesl and Christopher, who spent a lot of time on the farm. And to their grandsons, Nicholas, Jeremy, and Will, who own the 125-yea-old family farm as The Three Grandchildren Corp.

Del and Letty’s passion for giving back to the community and protecting land in perpetuity extends to their involvement with Sycamore. Members since 2003, Del is on the Advisory Board and the Finance Committee. They also donate to Sycamore’s Land Stewardship Endowment at the Brown County Community Foundation (BCCF), an organization Del founded 26 years ago.

Sycamore’s endowment funds – housed at BCCF, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, and an investment firm – total over $2.2 million, with a goal of $3 million in the next few years. Investment income will support land stewardship staff expenses and help transform acquired properties into healthy wetlands, forests, and grasslands to be taken care of forever.

Reflecting on our responsibility to take care of nature, Del explains why he is moved by the name Touch the Earth for one of our preserves in Columbus: “We are all touching the earth. Preserving nature is more critical all the time due to global climate change and the increasing destruction of trees.”

You can join Letty, Del, and other Sycamore members in helping to protect and restore habitat forever. To learn more about Sycamore’s endowments or how to contribute in your estate plan, contact Ann Connors at 812-336-5382 ext 104 or