The Mary B. Goodwin Trust was established on December 19, 1952 and the Conservation and Research Foundation was organized on April 3, 1953. The purposes of the foundation were set forth in the most general terms:
… to promote the conservation of our natural resources, encourage study and research in the biological sciences and deepen understanding of the intricate relationship between man and the environment that supports him.
The financial resources available to the Foundation were initially limited to the income from the $100,000 in the Mary B. Goodwin Trust. In the first ten years of operation this came to about $33,000, a sum augmented by about $11,000 from direct contributions and $5,000 from other sources. In the second decade income from the trust nearly doubled; contributions came to over $42,000, most of which was from our trustee, Frederick Kavanagh, who, among other things, endowed the Pelton Award.
From the 1970s through the 1990s, over 300 donors contributed a little over $150,000 in support of the Foundation’s granting. Some of these funds have been earmarked for special purposes, including support of the Latin America Natural Areas Program and endowing awards in memory of William J. Robbins and Annette Hervey. These endowments have since been conveyed to the Torrey Botanical Club, which administers the awards.
From very modest beginnings, the Foundation’s grant-giving has had significant growth and is now recognized as a source of support for conservation projects worldwide. During the first 50 years (1953-2002) CRF has funded grants, fellowships and awards to 276 organizations and individuals totaling over 1.2 million dollars, and has sponsored a conference and two colloquia.
More that a quarter of that sum was for contributions in support of 38 different institutions, and half of these grants were made when these institutions were in their formative stages. Notable among them were The Nature Conservancy, the Rachel Carson Trust for the Living Environment, The Institute of Ecology, the Fundacion de Parques Nacionales of Costa Rica, the Environmental Flying Service of Tucson, Arizona, the Latin American Natural Area Programs, Population Communications International, the Amazonian Peoples Resources Initiative, and The Population Media Center.
At this point in time it is hard to believe that in the 1950s only a few thousand dollars was needed to keep the budget of The Nature Conservancy, now the largest conservation organization in the world, in the black. The Foundation’s $6,000 of support to the Rachel Carson Trust, an organization dedicated to reducing contamination of the biosphere by toxic chemicals, was one of the first it received. This organization, now known as the Rachel Carson Council, is still flourishing.