Donor Spotlight: Dr. Jeannette Franks

“What could be more important than teaching children about science and nature?”


We recently sat down with Dr. Jeannette Franks to learn more about her long history with IslandWood (her late husband Dick Baker, MD was the very first IslandWood docent!), her commitment to invasive species removal (yay Weed Warriors!), and why she chose to include IslandWood in her estate planning. Read on to learn more.


Jeannette Franks, longtime IslandWood supporter, on IslandWood’s Bainbridge Island campus.

How did you first get to know IslandWood, and how have you been involved with the organization since then?


We had moved to the island, and both [my husband and I] were starting to retire. I had stopped working full time and was teaching a few courses, and my late husband Dick was starting to put together his post-retirement plan. He saw the sign saying “future Home of Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center” when we were out walking near Heyday Farm and said, “That’s what I want to be involved with.” Dick was the very first IslandWood docent. We were part of IslandWood before it even broke ground. We watched the progress as the building came up. It was a very thoughtful, well done, and minimally invasive process. Everything about IslandWood’s beginning and cause was exactly the type of thing we were interested in. We had always been involved with noxious weed removal and tree protection, and IslandWood’s goals really spoke to us.


Why do you choose to support IslandWood?


What could be more important than teaching children about science and nature? With global warming and the cutting down of forests worldwide, we need future scientists, environmentalists, and educators. After IslandWood was built, I created Weed Warriors, and we had the first meeting over 20 years ago at IslandWood. Just this week I will be pulling out ivy at Bloedel. I love to remove invasive weeds – It’s so gratifying to see all the natives rebound. Through the philanthropic causes I serve, my goal is to help protect the land. Through IslandWood, those ideals are passed on to the next generation.


Why did you choose to include IslandWood in your estate plans?


Because what IslandWood does is so important. Not only the mission, but what it means to the Bainbridge community. The 250 acres of land [that the Bainbridge campus is now on] was originally meant to be sold for development, but it was preserved with a vision. We want to protect this land and these programs for children. And a big part of the legacy we want to see continue is through the IslandWood Graduate Program, particularly in terms of continuing to make the program accessible for all graduate students.


What’s your favorite IslandWood memory, place, or program?


I actually don’t have just one favorite, but a highlight is interacting with students of all ages, from 4th graders to graduate students. Another highlight is the docent community. The docent community is such a wonderful group of people, and my participation in that program has always been a real pleasure.


What are your hopes for IslandWood in the years to come?


To continue educating children and graduate students, as well as those who come for tours and special events. To continue to run the graduate program, and continue to protect and improve the property. There is still plenty of ivy to remove, so please come and join us!


This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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