How Local Donors Invest in our Planet

Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a reminder of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging each one of us to take action for a healthier planet and brighter future. Frederick County boasts more than 140,000 acres of forest and serves as the watershed for multiple waterways including the Potomac and Monocacy Rivers. In recent years, Frederick County was recognized as a state leader in sustainable practices for its commitment to reducing pollution and increasing smart energy practices among other things.

While April 22 is recognized as Earth Day, we all know that to make a difference, we have to make every day Earth Day. The Community Foundation is proud to partner with generous donors who are committed to supporting environmental and conservation efforts locally and throughout the region.

The Walter W. and Catharine Prentiss Plummer Endowment Fund has distributed more than $58,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Potomac Conservancy since 2011. The fund supports conservation efforts within the Potomac River region, with an emphasis on the Monocacy River area in Frederick County.

In 2021 the funding provided support for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s local projects that are critical to water quality and those living downstream. Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff and volunteers have done several tree plantings on Frederick farms, helping to slow the flow of harmful pollutants into the sensitive waters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Grants provided from this fund will have a long-term impact on the environmental health of Frederick County.  A report from the Potomac Conservancy states “Funding from the Walter W. and Catharine Prentiss Plummer Endowment Fund … enabled Potomac Conservancy to engage in long-term sustainability planning to preserve the agricultural and rural heritage of communities and neighborhoods throughout Frederick County.”

Created in 2014, The Harry George and Dee Dolan Charitable Fund has distributed almost $120,000 to a range of local arts and historical preservation organizations, as well as gifts exceeding $21,000 to the Sierra Club Foundation. The Sierra Club Foundation’s mission is to promote efforts to educate and empower people to protect and improve the natural and human environment.

A field of interest fund allows a donor to designate a particular cause or issue for their charitable giving. The Community Foundation has several field of interest funds that support local environment and conservation activities and projects.

In recent years, The Parks Field of Interest Fund supported the nonprofit organization Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts for  cleanup projects of the Frederick Watershed Trails and The Environmental Preservation Field of Interest Fund has provided grants to organizations like the Catoctin Forest Alliance for educational, hands-on learning center adaptations of recreational areas.

We are all responsible for taking care of this planet and our local environments. One way to make a difference is to get your hands dirty – volunteer in local clean ups, recycle, use energy efficiently, advocate for smart policies. Another way is to support local organizations that are making a difference. To learn more about the Community Foundation’s Environmental Preservation Field of Interest Fund, visit

This article was originally published as an FNP column on April 25, 2022. It was updated in April 2024.