JACKSON, Mich. — Longtime Jackson resident and conservationist Myrna Berlet passed away in February 2021, but her legacy lives through a donation of nearly $5.2 million to support the Dahlem Conservancy.
“She worked her whole life, making films, learning about wildlife and sharing that knowledge and in the process, making a lot of money that she was able to then give back all of it to the very, very causes that she supported," said Mark Snedeker, who is not only a trustee of the Myrna Berlet Estate but also one of Berlet's very close friends.
Berlet taught at Jackson College for 32 years and was an accomplished photographer, filmmaker and lover of nature.
The Jackson Community Foundation will manage and invest the donation and should be able to give about $250,000 every year, and forever, to the Dahlem Conservancy.
"We are honored that Myrna trusted the Jackson Community Foundation as the vehicle to support an organization that was very important to her,” said Monica Moser, the foundation’s president and CEO. “She designated it to the Dahlem center for their use. So it's just for that one nonprofit.”
The Jackson Community Foundation gave $180,000 to the Dahlem Conservancy on Friday.
“She was a visionary and guiding force in our mission of providing environmental education, and outdoor experiences to the people of South Central Michigan…The donation is an incredible gift of gratitude in the memory of Myrna Berlet," said Ben Dandrow, the executive director at Dahlem Conservancy.
Berlet and her biology class at Jackson Community College cut the first trail at Dahlem Conservancy in 1971.
“Myrna passionately loved the 300 acres make up the Dahlem Conservancy," Dandrow said.
Snedeker said that Berlet was able to make this donation because of good investments.
“Dahlem was the recipient of only 40 percent of her entire trust. The other 60 percent went to other causes that were all environmental," Snedeker said.
Snedeker named the fund the Berlet Fund for Nature to continue Berlet’s legacy.
“She saw the glaciers in Alaska in the 1960s. And then again in the 2020s. And she was shocked. And those things hurt her I mean, there were times when I saw Myrna literally crying over things that she saw. She was very passionate about the environment. And I am too..I mean it matters. It does matter what we do really matters. And so, the Dahlem center, it’s very important that people support it, that people get on board and help her legacy come full circle. That’s what she would want," Snedeker said.
Snedeker said Berlet would want people to pay attention to the impact they are having on the environment.
Berlet died after a brief illness on Feb. 12, 2021, at the age of 80. She will be the first entrant in the newly created Dahlem Conservancy Founders Circle.
Donations to the Myrna Berlet Fund for Nature are being acceptedat this link.
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