Watershed Institute Announces $10 Million Gift

Betty Wold Johnson, photo credit NY Jets organization

The Watershed Institute announced recently that it has received a $10 million bequest – by far the largest individual gift in its 72-year history – from Mrs. Betty Wold Johnson, a longtime supporter who passed away last year.

The gift was made to create an endowment fund providing for the long-term financial support of The Watershed Institute and its essential mission of protecting water and the natural environment.

Announced at the organization’s annual meeting today, Executive Director Jim Waltman said the fund will support excellence and leadership in land conservation and stewardship, environmental education, watershed science, and the maintenance of the Watershed’s facilities. Mrs. Johnson was a long-time supporter of the Watershed who served on the nonprofit’s Advisory Board for more than 20 years.

“Mrs. Johnson was an extraordinary philanthropist whose generosity created a lasting legacy of environmental leadership and exceptional teaching spaces at The Watershed Institute and across our region,” Waltman said. “She possessed an abiding community spirit and boundless enthusiasm for our work and the other institutions that she championed.” 

Previously, Mrs. Johnson provided the lead capital gift in the campaign that created the Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science & Education, the nonprofit’s LEED-Platinum headquarters on its 950-acre nature reserve near Pennington. The new endowment will help ensure that the property is maintained and enhanced to ensure that it serves as a model for environmental stewardship.

The Watershed Institute was established in 1949 as the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association to address concerns about the erosion of farm fields that was adding large amounts of sediment to area streams and the loss of open space to development.

Over the decades, the nonprofit has grown to employ teams of scientists, educators, advocates, and land stewards who work in the Millstone and Delaware River watersheds and also provide leadership on statewide issues of water science and policy.

Submitted by the Watershed Institute.

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