News from the North Woods
Vetter remembers the beginning, looks to the future of ACNW by Jim De Young, Development Director
When Mary Ellen Vetter decided to take advantage of the tax benefits of giving to ACNW from her IRA, it was just the latest in a long history of pioneering efforts to build up the Audubon Center of the North Woods.
of a dire situation, and the Center responded with an explosion of new and complementary programs and initiatives.” Over the years, Mary Ellen has also demonstrated leadership in her financial support for ACNW. A long history of annual donations took the form of qualified charitable distributions from her IRA when that option became available. And she was among the first members of ACNW’s fledgling Legacy Society, beginning with a contribution to the scholarship endowment, followed by a charitable gift annuity and a bequest.
Matter of fact, Mary Ellen was involved before it was the Audubon Center of the North Woods. She was president of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, one of the three metro Audubon chapters that founded the then Northwoods Audubon Center following the gift of the property to the National Audubon Society in 1968. “In the earliest years, the metro Audubon chapters appointed representatives to operate the Center under Mike Link,” explained Mary Ellen. “Our chapter facilitated members attending outings and field trips at the Center...raised funds, awarded summer camp scholarships, and promoted Northwoods memberships.” Mary Ellen remained involved as ACNW progressed, so much so that when she was asked to join the board of directors in 2000, she says that the general reaction was, “Haven’t you always been on the board?” She remained a board member for 17 years, serving as board secretary for most of that time and as president
in 2011 and 2012. She continues to serve on the development and charter school committees. Mary Ellen points to building projects in the 90s as the most significant developments in ACNW’s history. “The construction of Crosby Lodge, Blandin Dining Hall, and Lowry Lodge allowed students to be in residence for an immersion in an environmental experience,” she said. “Last Child in the Woods (Louv) created public awareness
“Since the security of an organization requires stable and significant funds for future planning, I was happy for the opportunity to join the Legacy Society,” she said. Mary Ellen rightly takes satisfaction from her half-century of involvement with and investment in ACNW, especially in the lives that have been touched in that time. “It has been a delight and a privilege to be part of the Center’s growth and success,” said Mary Ellen. “I envision that our early students are now parents and are joyfully passing on the connection and commitment to the environment to their children.”
Spring/Summer 2019 issue of our twice-yearly newsletter