BERLIN – Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) announced on Monday the establishment of a permanent endowment fund at the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore to benefit its programs in perpetuity.
The creation of the “Assateague Coastal Trust Founders’ Endowment” was made possible by recent memorial donations in honor of two ACT founders who passed away this year, Judith Colt Johnson and Ilia Fehrer.
“We are deeply grateful for the life and legacy of these conservation pioneers,” said ACT Executive Director Kathy Phillips. “And we are grateful for the community’s generous gifts in their honor, which will ensure that the work of ACT’s founders to protect our land and water will not soon be forgotten.”
This new endowment will provide funds on a permanent basis to sustain ACT’s education and advocacy programs. ACT supports the Coast Kids environmental education program as well as the Assateague Coastkeeper®, an affiliate of the well-known Waterkeeper® Alliance, which works to promote clean water through grassroots efforts.
“Our advocacy efforts on behalf of the Atlantic Coastal Bays have gotten a major boost today,” Phillips said.
The family of Ilia Fehrer contributed a major gift to the Community Foundation to launch ACT’s endowment. Fehrer, who has been called “the greatest voice for conservation in Worcester County,” died last month after a long illness. Fehrer was the recipient of several awards for her environmental activities, including the 2002 Ellen Fraites Wagner Award from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
“Ilia Fehrer embodied the notion that one person truly can make a difference,” said U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Maryland-1st.
"There would be no Assateague Coastal Trust, and no Assateague Island State Park and National Seashore, without the lifetime dedication of Ilia and Joe Fehrer, Judy Johnson, and their contemporaries,” said Jim Rapp, ACT’s board president. “Contributions to ACT’s endowment will enable us to honor the legacy of our founders by continuing their commitment to protect and enhance our coastal land and water through advocacy, conservation, and education. While we are saddened by their passing, we are inspired by their remarkable efforts to leave the earth a better place than they found it."
Assateague Coastal Trust is the oldest environmental nonprofit organization in the Atlantic Coastal Bays region. Established in 1970 as the “Committee to Preserve Assateague Island,” the organization has grown to include over 1000 members. In addition to the more than $22,000 already gifted to the ACT Founders’ Endowment, Assateague Coastal Trust plans to raise additional funds to build the endowment during an upcoming capital campaign.
"We appreciate the faith and confidence Assateague Coastal Trust has placed in the Community Foundation to effectively manage these assets so they will be available to benefit the environment in our region for all time," said Spicer Bell, Community Foundation president. “Gifts to the ACT’s Founders’ Endowment Fund will help to grow this important financial resource for the organization and help support grantmaking to Assateague Coastal Trust for all time.”
The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore currently has over 400 charitable funds representing $69.2 million in assets under management that benefit nonprofit organizations serving the citizens of Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore.