Upon moving to Arizona in 2010 to be closer to their children and grandchildren, Rick and Judy Cooper found themselves near Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve and soon fell in love with the area. Rick and Judy joined a botany hike on the suggestion of others, having some interest in the plants that surrounded them. This led to a legacy of service and support that continues today.

Rick’s long career at Shell Oil instilled an ethos of volunteering. After retiring, they both longed to continue this tradition and were delighted to find an avenue to do so with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. Not only could they be stewards of the land they had come to love, but they could use diverse skills from their corporate backgrounds to further the Conservancy’s mission in many meaningful ways.

Rick is currently Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Conservancy, a natural fit for this experienced man, who has a background of governance as the chair of a credit union board. Judy, a volunteer tax preparer enjoys pathfinding at the trailheads and keeping meticulous records for this program. She says that pathfinding provides her with the opportunity to meet visitors and share a comprehensive picture of the Preserve. When visitors inevitably approach the map at the trailhead and furrow their brow, obviously needing help, Judy uses that moment as an opportunity for interaction. Not only does she give advice on some of her favorite trails, but she can also provide safety tips, discuss the importance of the Preserve, and give information on the Conservancy’s work. These interactions help ensure that visitors remember the Preserve long into the future, thus impacting the sustainability of this landscape and furthering the Conservancy’s goals.

The couple knows that the Conservancy is important to protect and restore the land while allowing people to enjoy the Preserve and fully appreciate the local wonder they have in their backyard. Rick and Judy believe that education about our arid lands, water, and conservation of flora and fauna in the area is vital to keep the Conservancy relevant. They emphasize that preservation of open space and fresh air and appreciation for the diverse ecosystem of plants and animals is important, especially to children who may never experience the Sonoran Desert in such a pristine state.

Avid birders, Rick and Judy travel frequently around the world, and one of the things they enjoy most about giving their time and talent to the Conservancy is the ability to quickly and easily adjust their volunteer schedules to suit their availability. They also appreciate that anyone can volunteer at the Conservancy at any level and can even serve on the Board. Depending on the individual, the level of service and support is easily adapted to the person’s ability to give—be it time, talent, treasure, or all three.

Both remain committed to continuing their service and financial support to the Conservancy. Rick says, “If you believe in the Conservancy’s mission and vision, then support naturally follows. If you want to assure that this organization continues to exist, it takes more than volunteering; it requires talent and, most importantly, resources.” This philosophy drives many of the supporters who donate through either annual donations or planned giving, including legacy gifts.

Rick and Judy urge their fellow citizens to contribute as they are able, either through volunteerism or by pledging their resources to the Conservancy. You can make a donation, volunteer your time, or buy Conservancy merchandise here on the website. Just click the links above.