Barbara Long – Bequest & Individual Retirement Account

"There's just something about the Florida panther," says Barbara Long of San Antonio, Texas. "The first time I saw the unique black markings on its face, I was hooked."

A generous donor since 1989 and member of our National Council since 2012, Barbara has also designated Defenders a beneficiary in both her living trust and individual retirement account (IRA).

"Leaving a legacy to Defenders is my way of making sure that my voice for wildlife will be heard long after I am gone," continues Barbara.

After a successful career as an editor, Barbara retired early to devote more time to animals. "I wanted my life to count for something and I wanted to work directly with the animals," she says. In addition to her support of Defenders, Barbara is also a devoted volunteer at Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, where she helps nurse injured animals back to health.

In 2011, while traveling with Defenders' Florida staff member Elizabeth Fleming, Barbara had the incredible good fortune to see a panther in the wild—an unbelievably rare event. "I was overcome with emotion," says Barbara. "Seeing that majestic feline cross the road in front of our vehicle was magical…a dream come true."

More recently, Barbara joined Michelle Davis and other members of Defenders' staff at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge located in the heart of the Big Cypress Basin in southwest Florida. "Defenders' commitment to protecting and restoring imperiled wildlife is unparalleled," says Barbara. "Its staff is dedicated, passionate and, most of all, effective."

But, what's the biggest reason Barbara has included Defenders in her estate plans? "If I thought there would be a time when there would not be a panther on the earth, it would break my heart."

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Bequests left to Defenders are crucial to our ability to protect imperiled species and their habitats for generations to come. Have you included Defenders in your will or other estate plans?