Stories from the Field

1971 Society Donor Spotlight: Tracy Thompson

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A stunning photograph of Yosemite National Park by the late wilderness photographer Galen Rowell hangs on Tracy Thompson’s wall. The image has hung in every office Tracy has ever had, including the law firm that introduced her to NatureBridge in 1992, but it was nearly lost when the firm suddenly and unexpectedly shut down for financial reasons.
“My first thought was to run in and save the Galen Rowell photograph so that the firm’s creditors wouldn’t get it,” says Tracy.
The photograph means a great deal to Tracy; it was originally a gift from NatureBridge (then Yosemite National Institute) in recognition of the firm’s generosity to the organization. It was Tracy who sparked that generosity, suggesting that the firm make all its future work for NatureBridge pro bono in exchange for bringing students from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School in San Francisco’s Bayview District to the Golden Gate campus for an overnight program.  
“The kids went out there and it was an unbelievable experience for them,” she says. Many of them had never been away from home or seen the ocean before.

The kids went out there and it was an unbelievable experience for them. Many of them had never been away from home or seen the ocean before.
Tracy Thompson

Inspired by the program’s impact on the students and her own love of the wild, Tracy provided pro bono legal services to NatureBridge for years, before joining the National Board of Directors in 2000. She served for 19 years in a variety of roles, from Vice Chair of Operations, to Board Secretary and Chair of the Risk Management and Nominating Committees. With her most recent commitment to NatureBridge, Tracy joins the 1971 Society, a community of dedicated donors who have bequeathed legacy gifts to the organization. She has directed her bequest toward scholarships for children whose access to nature is otherwise limited and whose lives would be forever changed by NatureBridge’s transformative programs.
As much as she treasures it, Tracy is even gifting the Galen Rowell photograph to NatureBridge.
“I’ve got a note taped to the back of it, ‘Return to NatureBridge when I die,’” Tracy laughs. “I truly am just the steward of the photograph.”
We are deeply grateful for Tracy’s time on the board, her stewardship of the beloved photo and her generous legacy gift that ensures future generations of students the opportunity to explore our national parks through environmental science. If you’d like more information about planned giving at NatureBridge, please contact Aaron Rich, Chief Development Officer at or 415-992-4761.

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