Donor Spotlight: Steven and Merilee Grindle
The campaign to raise funding for our River Bend Farm project brings forth the opportunity for special people to be honored by family and friends through gifts in their name. The places at River Bend Farm that have been (and continue to be!) named hold heartfelt stories of people and businesses whose life’s mission or business promise is to preserve our natural resources and promote conservation through educational programming. In several instances, our supporters have been inspired to raise funds from friends and family in honor of someone they hold dear. We look forward to this opportunity to share the intimate and inspired purpose of many gifts with our community!
Steven and Merilee Grindle became involved with The Ecology School after their eldest daughter, Alex, found her calling in environmental education at the organization. Alex began as a seasonal Educator in 2002 and, after four terms, became a foundational piece of the year-round staff in 2004. Today, Alex is our Director of Programs. When Steven was asked by Drew to become a member of the Board of Directors in 2007, he gladly accepted. He and Merilee had first-hand knowledge of the organization’s impact on young learners through the testimony of their daughter and they knew the critical necessity of its mission through their own observations of societial actions.
Steven recalls that Alex and her younger sister, Stefanie, were the ones who “kept them honest” when it came to recycling and understanding how to incorporate everyday conservation and sustainability practices into their lives. He said both their children became environmentally-focused through their friendships and college experiences, not because of “anything we did.” He admitted it was one of those situations where “the kids educate the parents.” A wonderful parallel to the transformative power of lessons taught at The Ecology School to thousands of students each year having a trickle-up effect on parents and the older generations!
When asked why they continue to support The Ecology School and why they increased their contribution to help fundraising efforts for the River Bend Farm Capital Campaign, Merilee said, “It’s hard not to be really excited about River Bend Farm. It’s hard not only because its such a magnificent setting, but also because of the plans for building it into a model of sustainability and ecological truth.”
Steven has an insider’s perspective on The Ecology School’s development—from the organization’s pivot from operating out of a rented facility, to becoming a large land/farm owner, to the excitement of serving on a Board of Directors filled with energetic and driven changemakers. “One of the parts that I’ve really enjoyed is working with the Board, which has not only grown in terms of numbers, but we really have some fantastic people that are in the know and are giving time to do the stuff we actually need done.”
Alex shares her parents’ deep affection for The Ecology School and excitement for its future, “I feel so lucky to have landed at The Ecology School and to have been able to make a career here as part of this very special organization. When the opportunity arose to really be able to deeply share the place, people, and work of The Ecology School—first with my father as a board member, and then both my parents as significant parts of our capital campaign—I felt really fortunate. Being able to share a place that has been so important and meaningful to me with my parents has been a really wonderful experience that I am thankful for.”
We are grateful to the Grindle’s for not only their continued generosity, but also for their dedication of time and shared passion to empower an ecological consciousness among all those who live and learn at River Bend Farm.
If you would like to learn more about the Capital Campaign and naming opportunities at River Bend Farm, please contact Development Director, Bryan Matluk at (207) 283-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org.