Edna Lee Kelly spent much of her childhood outdoors-she grew up in Pinole, California near San Francisco on her family's horse ranch, where she helped train Arabian horses. But it was a special camping trip when she was 12 that ignited her passion for nature.
"My grandmother and youngest uncle took me to Yosemite and we camped, hiked and explored for two weeks," Kelly said. "That's when I fell in love with the mountains and the wildlife. The wilderness just invaded my soul from that point."
Subsequent business trips with her father when she was a teenager also bolstered Kelly's appreciation for the beauty of wild places. "I remember we were driving through the Nevada desert and dad said 'Just look at the beauty of this sunset with the mauve, purple and gold splashed from the setting sun.' He taught me to be observant, to really see the magnificence all around us."
Kelly, now retired from a career in real estate, passed on her love of nature to her own four children and now shares it with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "I took my kids camping when they were young so they would learn to love and appreciate wilderness," she said. "I have also taken my grandkids to nearby state parks where we hike and look for fossils in a creek near a beautiful Redwood forest. I think it is so important to expose kids to nature!"
Because of her lifelong commitment to nature and wild places, Kelly supports a variety of charitable organizations devoted to wildlife preservation, including The Wilderness Society. She has also decided to establish a legacy to the Society through a gift in her trust of a portion of her estate.
"It just breaks my heart to see animals pushed to the point of extinction or mountaintops destroyed by mining or wilderness areas destroyed or eroded by ATVs," Kelly explained. "I have always believed in this adage: 'We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.'
"I know my gift to the Society will not be an enormous amount of money, but I want to do what I can to save wilderness and wildlife so my great-grandkids and their kids can enjoy what I've enjoyed. If we all just give a little, we can make a big difference."
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