This year the Conservation Trust for North Carolina celebrates 25 years of saving the places you love. As we look back at some of our milestones and accomplishments, we will continue to focus on our goals for the future. CTNC created its Legacy Society to honor and celebrate donors who, through estate planning, have made a commitment to ensure that pristine streams, thriving family farms, healthy forests, and spectacular mountain vistas are protected forever. These future gifts will contribute to the growth and success of CTNC and conservation efforts across the state for generations to come. Connie Backlund is one of our Legacy Society members, and here’s her story of why she joined.
In crafting her estate plan, Connie Backlund was guided by two principles—her love of the outdoors nurtured by her father, and her devotion to land protection. “The common theme of growing up on a family farm and later working for the National Park Service is being a good steward of the land and ensuring its well-being for future generations,” Connie explained. “By including the Conservation Trust for North Carolina in my estate plans I can make a tremendous difference throughout our state with continued land protection that ultimately results in an improved quality of life for all state residents.”
Connie grew up on what she calls an “all American farm” in west central Ohio. She spent much of her time as her father’s shadow, helping harvest corn, soybeans, oats and wheat, and raising their many dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs, and chickens. “I cannot imagine a grander childhood!”
In 2000, Connie’s father placed an agriculture easement on the farm, the second one in Ohio at the time, protecting the land as a working farm in perpetuity. Today the farm remains in Connie’s family where she still enjoys the fall harvesting of soybeans and corn.
The time spent outdoors as a child influenced many aspects of Connie’s life. Majoring in biology at Bowling Green State University, she participated in a biology field class where she discovered national parks. “I knew instantly while attending my first evening campfire program hosted by a young lady ranger in Badlands National Park that that was what I wanted to do!” Connie retired in 2012 after a 38-year career with the National Park Service. Her last position, for 18 years, was as the Superintendent at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock.
Connie became acquainted with the Conservation Trust in 1996 when CTNC was designated by the Governor’s Year of the Mountains Commission to lead and coordinate efforts to protect scenic views along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In 2001, a 22-acre parcel adjoining the Sandburg Home, which served as the backdrop to one of the most scenic areas in the park, was put on the market. CTNC stepped forward and purchased the property, preventing it from being developed as a subdivision. “I am fortunate to have been part of a transaction regarding land protection and to see firsthand the degree of expertise and knowledge that the CTNC team has. It impressed me at that time and continues to do so today.”
Over the years Connie has spent time with CTNC supporters, staff and board members on various hikes and at special events that strengthened her connection with the organization. “Developing these relationships gives me the confidence that, like the land, my contributions and planned estate gift to CTNC will be well stewarded. I am honored to be a member of CTNC’s Legacy Society.”