Donor Gail Heine

Life is Happening Everywhere

My most treasured national park memory took place on a sunny summer day in Glacier National Park with my mother, about five months before she died. She had traveled from her home in Georgia to Montana, where I lived. My son and I took her to the park along with a bunch of our family members. My mother, who wasn’t easily impressed, spent the whole day “oohing” and “aahing.” She took tons of photographs of the beautiful views, the mountain goats and more. At one point we spotted a big mama bear and two cubs going up a hillside and I pulled over. Mom was so excited, I had to grab her to stop her from leaping out of the car to take a picture! I reminded her to give the bears their space.

That day spent along Going-to-the-Sun Road with my mom is my favorite national park memory. But it was my dad who first taught me to love the environment. When I was a kid, he would tell me, “you can sit anywhere and look at just an inch of dirt on the ground and see life happening.” Whether it’s an ant, some grass, or something you can’t see without a microscope – life is happening everywhere.

My dad loved to take me kayaking and biking. And since we moved a lot, there was always someplace new to explore, some new adventure for us to have. Today, I have a camper van and plan to travel throughout the U.S. I want to see the Grand Canyon, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains, and eat a lobster in Maine. I hope to make it to all of the national parks someday!

When my dad passed away a few years ago, he didn’t have a will. But he had many causes that he cared about deeply, including the National Park Foundation. To honor his memory, I decided to include the National Park Foundation in my own plans. It’s nice to think that a little piece of him will live on in the national parks he loved so much.

When I think about my own legacy, I want to make it possible for everyone to enjoy the splendors of nature, the flora and fauna that my dad loved so much. By leaving a gift to the National Park Foundation, I’m doing my small part to preserve the parks for all future generations.

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