Elachee Donor Profile: Their Living Legacy Started with Bird Seed
Some 33 years ago, Robbie McCormac frequently visited Elachee’s office in downtown Gainesville where she bought bird seed. One visit, she saw a summer camp notice and registered her 5-year-old. Robbie’s relationship with Elachee was sealed, as was Mike’s!
Mike and Robbie relocated to Gainesville from Richmond, Virginia, in the mid-1980s, to begin his medical practice as she began her lifelong passion for volunteering. For decades, Robbie has been a stellar volunteer at Elachee; heading up semi-annual plant sales, serving on fundraising event steering committees, coordinating volunteer efforts for the ANCA National Conference, and leading other special projects at the Nature Center such as the resident animal adoption program, exhibit designs and more.
Wanting to be more purposeful in their charitable giving, the couple created the McCormac Family Foundation to embrace their focus on all things nature and gardening, science and children. Elachee and its visitors benefit from the McCormac’s significant generosity. Today, Elachee visitors are treated to the Mike and Robbie McCormac Pollinator Pass interpretive exhibit that also features live honeybee hives. Additionally, as annual sponsors, their yearly investment supports operation of Elachee’s live animal exhibits.
During the pandemic, Robbie’s efforts as a CASA volunteer increased and she has had to scale back on her Elachee commitments. Subsequently, Mike retired as a practicing physician and joined Elachee’s volunteer trail crew. He enjoys working to maintain the 12.24-mile hiking trail system he personally uses all the time. Mike helps keep trails clear and free of hazards, as well as enjoying the camaraderie of working with others on this team.
Both McCormacs wish for a balance between preserving the land and making access to it ‘somewhat comfortable’ to get out and explore it. “People cannot go without an outlet for stress. Access to Elachee and the Chicopee Woods can build you up for free,” says Robbie.
When asked why Elachee’s work is important, Robbie answers, “The interest of this place [Elachee and the Nature Preserve] is always changing.” Mike and she both support Elachee’s ongoing focus and concentrated efforts to inform the future, not just let it happen without direction. “If people don’t understand now what they need to do [to preserve], natural spaces and ecology practices will fall by the wayside and cease to exist.”
“You can’t get it back once it’s gone,” Mike states and Robbie adds, “No one can appreciate something they cannot see. Make nature and the natural world important – important enough that current and future generations will experience it so they will gain insight to share with subsequent generations.”