Wildlands Conservancy, the Lehigh Valley's nonprofit land trust, announced receipt of a $500,000 five-year donation/investment from the Air Products Foundation.

The Air Products Foundation is our "largest philanthropic investor in history," said Elizabeth Dugan, vice president of Development and Communications for the Wildlands Conservancy.

"The Foundation's gift will vitally support the growing demand for nature-based educational programming and celebrate the legacy of Leonard Parker Pool, the founder of Air Products," said Dugan.

"Each day, the protection of our natural resources is increasingly challenged," said Jane Ervin, chair of Wildlands' board of directors. "Corporate leaders like Air Products realize Wildlands' critical land-trust role and are actively investing in the next generation to sustain it."

To honor the company for its generous and continued support, Wildlands Conservancy named its environmental education building the "Air Products Environmental Education Center." The announcement was made at the Conservancy's headquarters at the Pool Wildlife Sanctuary in Emmaus.

In 1975, Leonard Pool's vision for the local natural environment and educating future environmental stewards inspired him to bequeath his 77.5-acre wildlife sanctuary to Wildlands Conservancy's mission to operate, manage and conserve.

Thirty-seven years later, Wildlands' President Christopher Kocher says Air Products is more involved with the organization than ever.

"We are grateful to have Air Products as a partner and a friend," said Kocher.

"Their investment today in the environmental stewards of tomorrow represents one of the many moments punctuating our continued, deep relationship. Year after year, Air Products does so much to keep Wildlands' mission alive throughout the region. From employee volunteer days and active leadership on the organization's board of directors to investing in best management practices for its corporate grounds Air Products leads the conservation-mindedness of Lehigh Valley businesses and corporations," he added.

"The Pool Wildlife Sanctuary is the hub of our environmental education programming," Kocher continued. "Every year more than 14,000 school-aged students come to this property to connect with nature. They cross the same bridge that you all did today to come here and discover the wonders of nature that exist right here in the Lehigh Valley. Here, the days are not spent in the classroom, but spent outside, on the trails, hearing and seeing wildlife, seeing what is alive in the creek, and nurturing the next generation of environmentally aware citizens."

"This is a great opportunity to recognize the great work of a great organization," said John McGlade, chair, president and CEO of Air Products. "It is wonderful that Leonard Pool had the foresight so many years ago to establish this on behalf of the community and then to continue to help develop all the wetlands throughout the greater Lehigh Valley. I'm always proud to have the opportunity to speak about Leonard's legacy.

"In the early 1960s, Leonard wrote a letter to our employees," McGlade continued. "He said that there are three things we need to do: attend to the safety, health and well-being of our employees; to meet our customers needs and give them great customer service; and third and most importantly, our right to be citizens in the communities that we operate in. This means that we have to, and should, want to give back to the communities that we operate in. To do what we can both as a company and individually.

"This contribution is a large one from the Air Products Foundation, but is large because of the significant impact that this organization has had, and we expect to continue. Thank you to the entire organization they put in a lot of time and energy to make this happen." McGlade said. "Our support from the Air Products Foundation will, we hope, mean that many thousands more will enjoy the same experience for years to come."