Sam Shine’s Legacy at Sycamore Land Trust

by Eva Lapp, Communications and Development Graduate Fellow

Sam Shine at the Sam Shine Foundation Preserve

As we reflect on Sycamore’s first three decades of protecting nature in southern Indiana, we remember Sam Shine for his generosity and commitment to ecological preservation and restoration in southern Indiana and beyond.

Sam passed away on November 15, 2019 at the age of 86. Growing up in New Albany, Indiana, Sam developed a great love of nature and a passion to protect it. Before becoming a major donor to Sycamore, Sam spent his career building a successful global company, and as a philanthropist who has left a tremendous environmental legacy.

In 1976, Sam and his wife, Betty, founded Samtec, Inc., a privately owned electronic cable and connector manufacturing corporation based out of New Albany, IN with satellite offices around the globe. Sam also created the Sam Shine Foundation, whose mission is: “Long-term conservation, preservation, and restoration of natural ecosystems while focusing on maintaining and enhancing native wildlife habitats associated with unique lands and waters.”

In 2015 the Sam Shine Foundation donated $1 million to Sycamore to purchase 339 acres of floodplain farmland along Beanblossom Creek in the Beanblossom Creek Bicentennial Conservation Area in Monroe County, Indiana. We are honored to name the property, the Sam Shine Foundation Preserve. With a steep wooded bluff, an upland field, and karst topography, this preserve provides great potential for wildlife habitat.

As Sam told us, “As I have watched the over-development and fragmentation of our rural landscape it becomes more important than ever to preserve natural areas like Beanblossom. Once gone they can’t be brought back. I am proud to have had a hand in helping Sycamore saving Beanblossom.”

Sycamore plans to restore part of the preserve into wetland and grassland habitat. With reduced mowing in the fields, unusual grassland birds have already begun to show up in the area, including bobolinks, dickcissells, and Henslow’s sparrows. We will continue to steward this gift of nature, thanks to the vision and generosity of the Sam Shine Foundation.

Sam and Betty’s conservation efforts reached beyond Indiana. They donated thousands of acres in northern Florida to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, adding on to the St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge. They also supported The Nature Conservancy, Purdue University’s Purdue Research Park, the Ohio River Greenway, and Louisville’s Waterfront Botanical Gardens. Sam always remained committed to his home region of southern Indiana and Kentucky in his philanthropic work.

Sam and Betty have always been passionate about environmental education. In 2018 the Sam Shine Foundation donated $250,000 for Sycamore’s Monarch Environmental Education Endowment, which enables Sycamore to serve thousands of people each year throughout southern Indiana.

Donors like Sam and Betty remind us to be thoughtful in our work, mindful of our impact in the lives of other beings, and attentive to the natural spaces we seek to protect. Sam and Betty’s legacy will live on in the land they helped Sycamore to protect and the generous contributions they gave to Sycamore and many other conservation organizations.

If you would like to remember Sam, please consider planting a native tree or donating to Sycamore Land Trust in his honor.