Donor Spotlight

Donor Spotlight

Jo Ellen Diehl Yeary | Generosity rooted in pride, remembrance, dedication to home

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Brian Blair: Preserving the Land He Loves Forever

“To me, environmental stewardship means protecting all of creation, however you define it – that means thinking beyond individual lifetimes.”

Those are the words of Brian Blair, a Hocking County resident and committed champion for conservation in Appalachian Ohio.

Brian first developed a passion for the natural world as a toddler. He always loved animals and living things, and, as he grew up, this love for his fellow creatures developed seamlessly into the passion for ecosystems and conservation that defined his 32-year career with the Ohio EPA and continues to define his volunteer work in land conservation, largely with land trusts. Land trusts are private, nonprofit organizations which conserve land by acquiring or stewarding land or conservation easements to limit possible uses of the land for conservation.

“Protecting the wildlife and plants around us requires the protection of their lands and habitats,” Brian said. “Protecting that land requires both commitment and funds, and that’s why I began volunteering with land trusts that focus on land conservation.”

Because protecting the environment, for Brian, means looking beyond individual lifetimes, he began thinking about what he could do to leave behind a legacy that would build upon his devotion to a brighter and more sustainable world.

Brian was familiar with the Ora E. Anderson Conservation Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, which serves as a permanent source of charitable funding for conservation activities and programs. He was inspired by the fund’s grantmaking, which has helped develop, maintain, and expand trails in the region that allow communities to experience nature directly, supported restoration of important habitats, helped monitor water quality, supported access to environmental education for students of all ages, and much more.

So, Brian reached out to FAO about the possibility of creating a fund of his own through a planned gift in his will.

The Brian J. Blair Appalachian Forest Fund will support Appalachian forest conservation and preservation projects. Through the power of endowment, the fund will expand its impact over time, granting out ever-more funds to support its mission. Specifically, Brian hopes that the fund will be able to grow the work of land trusts in the region.

“We have so many tremendous resources in Appalachian Ohio, including the Wayne National Forest and many state wildlife areas, but most of those resources are fragmented,” Brian said. “We need private donors to invest and help stitch the quilt of our forests together, because the connectedness of those areas is vital to the health of our wildlife.”

Brian’s gift will work in perpetuity to connect the region’s forest ecosystems, and knowing that his legacy will contribute to that mission has given Brian a certain peace of mind.

“Planned giving is a way to take away the questions you might have about what will happen to any assets or funds you have once you’re gone,” Brian said. “My planned gift helps me sleep a bit easier, because I know that it will empower others to do the sort of conservation work that I’m doing now far into the future.”