"Why We Give"
All the following are also members of the McCullough Society. Click here to learn more about this opportunity.
Geneva Telling Bateman
Geneva Telling Bateman was a woman with a passion for service and leadership. She and Robert N. Bateman are pictured at right on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1977.
As a member of the Telling family of South Euclid, she was taught early on that a woman needs to be independent and self-sufficient. She was an avid reader and gardener, and held leadership roles in many Cleveland clubs and service organizations including the Women’s City Club, the Lyndhurst Women’s Civic Club, and the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. Her connection to Geauga County came through her maternal grandparents, George Washington Sherman and Maryette Russell Sherman, who lived and farmed in Chester Township.
Mrs. Bateman’s special interest in children’s issues and her love of nature and the outdoors led her to establish, through a bequest, The Geneva T. Bateman Educational Endowment Fund at Geauga Park District. The fund was created in 2004 to support Geauga Park District’s Naturalist Department staff, allowing them to purchase special equipment and materials needed for educating the public through programs and educational exhibits at The West Woods Nature Center.
“Having the Bateman Fund is like having someone grant you an extra special ‘gift’ from your wish list every year,” Naturalist Services Director Diane Valen said. “Designated specifically for program use, these funds have enabled us to purchase specialty items that don’t fall within our regular budget. Items like quality spotting scopes for wildlife observation, GPS units and other devices allow us to continue to deliver the best programs possible for the children and families of Geauga County.”
Kenneth and Mary Ann Post
In 2007 Kenneth and Mary Ann Post donated 10 woodland acres of her family's farm on Hall
Road in Claridon Township to Geauga Park District. "Preserving a part of my parents' land is a legacy
of their love for it," she said. "We are glad to give this gift and know the land is safe forever."
William "Bill" Kent
I grew up in Chester Township and graduated from West Geauga High School, but now live in Newbury Township. Being a lifelong resident of Geauga County, I appreciate what Geauga Park District offers, most especially the fishing spots like Headwaters Park, Beartown Lakes Reservation and Best Preserve. Now that I have retired, I’m looking forward to fishing in every Geauga Park District location that I can this year. I have been a donor to the Geauga Park District Foundation since 1996. I am happy to leave something behind by making the Geauga Park District Foundation a beneficiary in my estate plans.
Mrs. Margaret Clause is a long-time friend of Geauga Park District. After signing over her property to the Park District in 1994, she recently
made a planned gift by creating a charitable gift
annuity which will provide a gift to Geauga Park
District upon her death. Margaret describes herself
as a “simple country gal” who grew up during
the Depression but her family’s connection to the
land is strong and stretches back to the late 1800’s.
Her father and grandfather farmed but in the early
1950’s her father, Leroy Wenzel, stopped farming
and began reforesting the property, eventually
planting over 20,000 trees of all varieties.
reasons Margaret gives to Geauga Park District
are personal ones. She is concerned about the
amount of building going on, but mostly she is
sure her father would have been very pleased with
the parks of Geauga Park District. Her gifts honor
his memory and what he loved most – the land of
Geauga County. Margaret says, “He would have
been thrilled. My father died in 1957 but if he were
still alive I’m sure he would have known every
park. He would have just loved them.”
Jean and Peter Ruh
The Ruhs, longtime owners of Sunnybrook Nursery, wanted something more for their beloved property than to see it become another housing development.
The property has been in the Ruh family's care since 1928, and they know every beautiful inch of that land. It was beauty they wanted to see protected, and then shared.
“We grew up on that land. We’ve known each other since we were in the fourth grade...so many memories," they said. "We wanted to protect that land, and also let people make their own memories there.”
Working with the Ruh family, and with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Geauga Park District helped bring their wishes to reality. The land they walked, worked, and played on for generations became Sunnybrook Preserve, which opened to the public in 2008. There the Park District has created trails that allow the public to explore the natural wonders this preserve has to offer and constructed a new indoor/outdoor shelter so groups and families can get together at any time of the year.
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Annual Campaign Donors
Dr. Frank Stehli likes to get things done. During 25 years as a researcher and university professor, including 12 years as chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Stehli has been engaged in research with leading scientists on every continent except Antarctica. Upon his retirement, other local park systems wanted him to assist with visitor education, but Dr. Stehli prefers to be out in the woods gathering data and finding answers. Fortunately for Geauga Park District, he chose to work alongside Park Biologist Paul Pira to continue to study the natural world and to assist with research in a meaningful and useful way.
During the last six years, Frank has worked on projects for the Park District such as reforestation of chestnut and hemlock trees, stream monitoring, small mammal surveys and bluebird management. Frank enjoys conducting research on mammals because as a teenager he used to collect small mammals and painstakingly preserve them for displays at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Small mammals are at the bottom of the food chain and, as such, are important indicators of forest health.
Dr. Stehli and his wife Irene have donated to the Geauga Park District Foundation since 1997. When they moved to Geauga County in 1960, it was much different than it is today. In fact, when the Stehli children went to school in Bainbridge Township, there were children who drove tractors to school! Because the landscape has evolved so dramatically, it has been very important to them to support Geauga Park District’s work to preserve land now while it is still available. The Stehlis also like that Geauga Park District educates young people about the environment, and gets kids excited about science. In Frank’s words, “It’s important to teach today’s children to love nature, because there is less nature around.”
I am a wife, mother, grandmother and finish carpenter by profession. However, my current passion is for volunteering with Geauga Park District’s Nature Scopes program. Since the program began seven years ago, I have been as lucky as the fifth-graders, as I have helped them make that amazing connection with Nature. The students are naturally bold and curious as they appreciate the discoveries that binoculars provide. Like the hammer that encourages the nail into the wood, binoculars have proven to be the ’tool’ that encourages a young person’s sense of wonder. The field guides help each student understand and respect what they see. Can there be anything more important than building awareness
and a basic understanding of the natural world for future generations? Having committed to Nature Scopes, it is my fondest wish that an understanding and appreciation of this program will forever generate volunteers, as well as the capital to keep the dream on course. Thank you for your support of this profound and magical program!
Iola and Alan Skinner
As the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bateman, Iola Skinner grew up in Cleveland enjoying long bike rides in the Cleveland Metroparks. She and her husband Alan Skinner are pictured at right on their 52nd wedding anniversary in 2001.
As early as her elementary school years, Iola had her own flower gardens and was often late to school because her route led her through some lovely woods. So it’s no surprise today that Iola believes strongly in supporting our parks and is deeply committed to having a wide variety of programs available to the public at no charge. In addition to contributing to the Geauga Park District Foundation’s Annual Campaign since 1999, she and her husband Alan support The Geneva T. Bateman Educational Endowment created by her mother and the bi-annual exhibits at The West Woods Nature Center.
Iola was recruited to volunteer with Geauga Park District in the late 1980’s and received the Robert McCullough Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. She served as a Geauga Park District Foundation Trustee from 1997 to 2001 and created the first Tapper’s Treasures Gift Cart, now The West Woods Nature Store. One of her most memorable volunteer experiences came early in her first years helping with the maple sugaring demonstrations at Swine Creek. Iola recounts: “I was outside showing folks how we drill a tree for sap when a mother and child approached, talking and laughing together. The mother took the child’s hands and was showing her how the sap came out of the tap and I was amazed to realize that the child was blind. I was especially moved when the pair left the sugar house so happy that they were holding hands and skipping together. On that day I felt privileged to witness such an intimate family moment in our parks, and I discovered how critical our programs are for bringing us closer together in discovery of the miracles of Nature.”
The Wadsworth Family
Lanie, age 4, is a regular at Timbertots, a monthly Park District program designed for children ages 3 to 5 and their parents. At a recent program on woodpeckers, Lanie enthusiastically answered most of Naturalist Nora Sindelar’s questions. “What do owls and woodpeckers have in common?” asked Nora. “Wings!” Lanie yelled. “What do woodpeckers eat?” “Bugs!” answered Lanie, correct again. “And woodpeckers don’t have just any kind of feet. They have ___?” “Birdpecker feet!” the little girl called out.
Lanie says she likes Timbertots because it’s fun. Her parents like it because it’s interactive and she is learning a lot. In fact, the monthly programs she attends have equipped her with so much new knowledge of wildlife and nature that she is her family’s resident “naturalist.”
The Wadsworths are currently making annual gifts to the Geauga Park District Foundation in order to fund the purchase of cross-country trail grooming equipment. Lanie’s father, Brad Wadsworth, is one of a small group of men who are volunteering to groom The Maple Highlands Trail for skiing when snow is prevalent. “We wanted to get grooming equipment for the trail for two reasons. First, we wanted to be able to enjoy The Maple Highlands Trail in the winter because it is very close to where we live and a great resource to have in your back yard. Second, we wanted to have another option for outdoor exercise in the winter months. I think once it catches on a lot of people will take advantage of it.”
Jim A., Lorain County
"I don’t have to give to Geauga Park District but I have made contributions anyway for the last 15 years," says this out-of-town donor. "I live in Lorain County and I’ve seen how development has encroached in our area. I am interested in preservation and the properties you have acquired have all 'made sense' to me. I give every year to the Foundation’s Annual Campaign and I visit Geauga County as often as I can to enjoy your parks. I’ve been in all of them! Your newest parks, like Sunnybrook, are great additions. I am looking forward to Observatory Park becoming a reality very soon – the land and the wildlife on it are now safely in the hands of the park district. As far as I’m concerned, you’re doing everything right at Geauga Park District."
Ruth Holm loves volunteering the most when young people bring their parents to The West Woods Nature Center and she overhears the kids say things like, “I’d rather come to The West Woods than go to the zoo!”
Five years ago, volunteer and donor Ruth Holm was working the front desk at The West Woods Nature Center when a family came in with two children. The parents were trailing after their daughter who had just completed the park district’s Nature Scopes program for fifth-graders. She couldn’t wait to start exploring on her own using all she had learned about birds, insects, trees and constellations. Her younger brother excitedly told Ruth that when he was in fifth-grade he was going to be in the Nature Scopes program, too, and also get his own pair of binoculars. It was then that Ruth, who was a teacher in Shaker Heights for 30 years, realized that the Nature Scopes program was something special. “What a difference this program would have made if I’d had it in fifth-grade,” she says.
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