It’s Bigger Than Us: Care and Conservation through a Planned Gift
No matter the weather or temperature, with patience and good eyesight, you’re likely to spot a unique species of human environmentalist quietly stationed in the prairie or woodland at the Cibolo Nature Center & Herff Farm.
They are “birders,” and though camouflaged in their khaki and green, they can be identified by their tool of choice, a set of binoculars hung around their necks. Nearly 20 years ago, newly-retired Tom and Patsy Inglet were looking for a pastime that they could enjoy together and that would incorporate their love of travel and nature. After becoming Master Naturalists, they discovered an appreciation for birds, learning that the more than 10,500 species on the planet are “all cool in some way.”
In the intervening years, Tom and Patsy have visited every continent and over 59 countries, most recently planning trips to Cuba, Brazil and Madagascar. Eschewing the title of “expert,” they describe themselves as “enthusiasts who are good enough.” Where Tom and Patsy shine is through their gift as educators. In former lives, Tom was a project manager in Saudi Arabia and Patsy taught school for 37 years. So, they’ve seen some things and been some places. And they want to make sure that people young and old gain an understanding of one of our most precious resources: birds. As Jonathan Franzen states in National Geographic’s article, “Why Birds Matter” (January 2018), “it’s not just what they do for the environment —it’s what they do for our souls.” Tom and Patsy say that birding is the “gateway drug to conservation,” and that one can’t possibly not care about the fate of our natural world once one gets to know birds. When folks hang a feeder in their backyards and start to enjoy the melodious winged visitors who come to enjoy free seeds or nectar, they’re hooked, often becoming more conscious about personal environmental choices like planting native landscapes and conserving water.
Tom and Patsy have been citizen science and education volunteers as well as financial supporters at the Cibolo Center for Conservation for years. While we can’t thank them enough for their time and dollars, they recently made the pledge of a planned gift that will benefit this organization after they become birders in the Great Beyond. The gift will not only allow the Cibolo to plan for its future, it will also be part of the Inglet’s legacy, allowing their love for the natural world and the work they contributed to sustaining it live long into the future. In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy seeing Tom and Patsy in the company of other birders wandering through the native ecosystems of the Cibolo, squinting into the leafy canopy overhanging the creek, listening to birdsong, and lovingly nurturing our beaked and feathered friends who share the earth with us.