RCM Launches Preservation Fund Campaign to Help Ensure Arboretum’s Future

Rotarians and friends had something big to celebrate on September 24th, when we opened the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. As County Executive Chris Abele said at a Rotary meeting one week later, “When people first heard the scope and scale of the project, folks thought, ‘That’s too big to pull off.’ Happily, here we are today, pulling it off.”


It was the final event of our centennial year, but amid the slender young trees and newly-planted grasses, everyone was looking to the future instead of the past. Invoking  poet William Wordsworth, President Kathie made a wish for the new Arboretum: “100 years from now, may it still be a safe and silent refuge from the city’s hustle and bustle: an enshrinement of lonesome nature’s endless year.”


To ensure the Arboretum remains that safe and silent refuge, RCM leadership is launching a campaign to raise funds for the  Arboretum Preservation Fund.  Ongoing maintenance will be essential. Vegetation needs to be trimmed; winds do sometimes damage land and vegetation.  Pruning and shaping is required – of 1,000 trees! A living legacy depends on a continuing stream of funds from an endowment, hence the creation of a Preservation Fund.


JoAnne Anton, Charlie James and Jill Pelisek have agreed to chair the Preservation Fund Campaign cabinet of nearly 20 Rotarians, many of them Past Presidents. Our thanks to JoAnne, Charlie, Jill and the cabinet for their service! In the first weeks of October, every Rotarian will receive a letter requesting their support to help maintain this gift to the community.


It was always part of the plan to provide a Preservation Fund. $100,000 of Rotary’s original $400,000 gift was designated to seed the Preservation Fund. Pieter Godfrey also pledged $100,000. By the time we completed raising the $8.8 million to build the Arboretum, commitments to the Preservation Fund had grown to $600,000.
The Urban Ecology Center committed to raising a total of $3 million in 10 years. To manage this fund for the future, Urban Ecology Center and Rotary have agreed that the funds will be managed by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF) and distributions will be consistent with GMF policy. Relying on the GMF expertise and with a three person advisory committee for the fund, we will insure the future of the Arboretum. One advisor will be chosen from Rotary, one from Urban Ecology Center, with a third person agreed to by both Boards.


Just a few weeks ago, an anonymous gift of $150,000 increased the amount raised to-date in the Preservation Fund to $750,000 – just $250,000 short of $1 million! RCM would like to ensure that the Preservation Fund reaches the $1 million milestone by the end of 2013.