Today’s guest post is by Marie Bostick, Executive Director of Land Trust of North Alabama.
Many different strategies may be employed to conserve land including, donations, bargain sales, bequests and conservation easements. Each has its own benefits and constraints based on the goals of the parties involved in the transaction. This article will focus on the use of conservation easements.
A conservation easement (CE) is a
land conveyance from a private land owner to either a governmental entity or
non-profit 501(c)3 Land Trust, which places restrictions on a property that has
appropriate conservation values. The holder of the conservation easement
(either the Land Trust or governmental entity) is responsible for monitoring
the property in perpetuity to make sure the easement provisions are not
violated. The easement itself is
negotiated between the parties to meet specific conservation goals and allow
the land owner the continued to use of the property, so long as the uses don’t
conflict with the conservation goals. A
key benefit to a conservation easement is the land owner’s ability to take a
federal tax deduction for the value of the donation. However, in order to take advantage of these
tax benefits, the land owner must comply with the IRS Code requirements.
IRS Code 170 (a) and (h) provide
the requirements that must be followed to execute a “qualified” conservation
easement. One of these requirements is that a “qualified” entity – such as the
Land Trust of North Alabama – must hold the easement. Another requirement, as
mentioned above, is that the easement be held in perpetuity. For example, the
restrictions that are placed on the property through the CE must be in the
recorded document and the Land Trust must monitor and enforce those
restrictions forever. In the event the fee interest in the land is sold to
another party, the conservation easement will run with the land and the
restrictions remain in effect. In order to assist the entity that is holding
the easement to perform its enforcement obligation, a stewardship and defense
donation is often included as a part of the overall transaction. Of course, a
key requirement is that the property serves a valid conservation purpose, and
the IRS Code list four conservation values that are used to make this
determination. Most land trusts also
have criteria for conservation properties which must be met. While there is
often overlap between these conservation values, the land owner and
conservation easement holder must work together in determining if the conservation
easement is appropriate for both parties. Lastly, the CE must be substantiated,
which is typically done through a qualified appraisal and appraiser and
documented by way of a Form 8283.
While completing a Conservation
Easement to the standards of the IRS and the easement holder is a meticulous
and detailed process, a landowner can realize substantial federal tax benefits.
Currently, a landowner can deduct the
value of the conservation easement donation up to 50% of their annual income
and carry forward any remaining donation value for period of up to 15 years. Qualified ranchers and farmers are eligible
for greater tax incentives, with the ability to deduct the value of their
donation up to 100% of their annual income, with a carry forward period of 15
Executing a conservation easement is a complicated process and the benefits vary with each person’s unique situation. Anyone considering a conservation easement should consult with their own tax professional to determine whether it is a viable option for them.
Sometimes, it’s difficult not be consumed by negative newspaper articles or cable news shows that leave you frazzled and questioning the direction of our nation. Luckily, our school kids, with the help of the Liberty Learning Foundation, are on their way and ready to show us what it means to be a good citizen.
The Liberty Learning Foundation (LLF), a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)(3), is dedicated to teaching, inspiring, and empowering school children to know about civics, history, good character, community engagement, financial responsibility, and career readiness. These important subjects are often cut by school systems eager to focus on teach-to-test subjects like science and math. Liberty is built on the belief that science and math alone cannot continue our nation’s progress, and that a curriculum that includes lessons about the history of our nation and what it means to be a good citizen add to the overall well being of students.
mission for the Liberty Learning Foundation began with a simple question: How
can schools, community leaders, and businesses work together to ensure out next
generation understands its important role in America’s future? The answer is a
ten-week Super Citizen program that includes a big kick off with an appearance
by Libby Liberty, a professionally-developed curriculum, project-based
learning, and an ending celebration that shows children what they’re capable of
when they work together.
recently had the great opportunity to attend the Liberty Learning Foundation
Kick-Off Event for Huntsville City Second Graders (and get my picture with
Libby Liberty). It was such a fun and unique event that served as a pep rally
for the ten-week educational program. The children left excited about the
opportunity to learn more about history and servant leadership.
Liberty Learning Foundation currently serves over 40,000 students in 270 schools and communities around Alabama, and they want to grow! They primarily rely on private donations to sustain and grow the program because they don’t want to burden school systems with an unfunded program.
Let us know if you are interested learning more about Liberty
Learning Foundation or attending one of their local kick-off programs with area
schools. If you are a believer in the importance of teaching history, civics
and good citizenship to children, it is an event I think you’ll enjoy. Our
friend, Dr. John Kvach, Vice President of Liberty Learning Foundation, has
offered personal invitations and would be happy to speak with you more on how
the Liberty Learning Foundation is creating the “next generation of great
I had the good fortune of serving in Leadership Huntsville/Madison County’s Connect Class 19 with Melissa Reynolds, Executive Director of Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center. I saw and felt Melissa’s passion around her work with Merrimack Hall, and I have had the joy of seeing the teams of entertainers from Merrimack perform at a number of events around town. They never fail to put a smile on my face and fill the house will applause.
Merrimack Hall is home to The Happy Headquarters. The Happy Headquarters has three distinct components:
Happy HeARTs – A year-round after-school program of arts education that includes classes in dance, creative movement, choir, yoga, fitness, creative writing and multi-media visual arts
Happy Days – A day program for adults 18+ that is focused on arts-related activities, music therapy and life skills
Happy Camp – A series of half-day summer camps.
Merrimack Hall serves hundreds of children and adults with special needs diagnoses such as Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and a host of other conditions. They believe everyone deserves the right to participate in the arts regardless of their disabilities. Their Happy team can be found performing all over the city of Huntsville. Visit the Events section of their Facebook page for where you can find them next.
Merrimack Hall relies on the support of over 800 volunteers each year. Volunteer coaches work with the students in their Johnny Stallings Arts Program (JSAP) to learn music, art, and dance. More importantly, they serve as mentors and friends to their partners with special needs. In each program component of JSAP, they encourage their volunteers to interact with students in a meaningful way to create lasting friendships.
Since 2015, Longview has proudly served as a sponsor for the HudsonAlpha Foundation’s annual Tie the Ribbons event. This year’s event was held on Wednesday, November 8th in the Von Braun Center North Hall. The official press release can be found here.
Tie the Ribbons kicked off Information is Power, a
collaboration with HudsonAlpha and Kailos Genetics, in 2015 with a year-long
genetic cancer risk testing initiative. The screening, which is a test for the BRCA1
and BRCA2 hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer, was free for 30-year-old
women and was available for anyone age 19 and older living in Madison,
Limestone, Marshall, Jackson, and Morgan counties for a reduced price. Over
1400 people participated in the initiative and around 40 people discovered they
had an increased risk of cancer.
In 2016, Phase II was announced. Redstone Federal Credit Union sponsored an expansion of the Information is Power initiative which ran through October 28, 2017. During that time, all women AND men in the aforementioned five counties who are 30 years of age could receive the genetic test at no charge! Anyone age 19 or older can also complete the test for $129.
Now, in 2017, Information is Power has been expanded
again, thanks to a generous donation from Redstone Federal Credit Union. Free
genetic cancer risk testing is now available to women and men, age 28 to 32 in
Madison, Limestone, Jackson, Marshall, and Morgan Counties. The screening not
only tests for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, but for almost two dozen genes linked
to breast, ovarian, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
In this video, you’ll meet some of the scientists working to find the next major cancer discovery and hear personal experiences from individuals about their battle.
From their website, here’s a brief synopsis about
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges. Opened in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit hudsonalpha.org.
The Hope Grows Garden is located in McMillian Park on
the campus of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. It opened in July
2017. From their website:
This July, the “Hope Grows Garden: Breast
and Ovarian Cancer” will blossom on the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
campus. The garden was created to pay tribute to those who are battling or have
battled breast and ovarian cancers as well as those who are working diligently
to find new discoveries for these diseases. Located in McMillian Park inside a
bend on the Double Helix path, the garden will feature colorful blooms and provide
a space to relax and reflect.
The Hope Grows Garden includes a special
memory area to recognize Dr. Kimberly Strong’s contributions in the fields of
genetics and genomics, and her valiant struggle with breast cancer. Kim died in
March 2017. Donations can be made in her memory for this special area.
The garden will also feature a ribbon
pathway where you can purchase a paver to recognize and remember your mother,
sister, wife, daughter, aunt, friends, colleague or neighbor with a special
For information about the Hope Grows Garden
or to purchase pavers on the ribbon pathway please visit www.hudsonalpha.org/hope-grows-garden. Proceeds from the Hope Grows Garden will benefit HudsonAlpha’s
initiatives to improve health and well-being through the area of greatest need
We were fortunate enough to hear Dr. Kimberly Strong speak at the annual Tie the Ribbons event, and her story left a lasting impression on many of us. Longview is proud to play a small part in honoring Dr. Strong and all who continue to fight.
Longview proudly served as the Presenting Sponsor for
Kids to Love’s inaugural Denim & Diamonds event held on Saturday, April
The Denim & Diamonds event was held as a fundraiser and open house for Davidson Farms, a 10,000 sq.ft. home on 10 acres in Madison County, Alabama. The home, a gift from Dr. Dorothy Davidson, will serve as “A Home for Girls” for tween and teen girls in foster care. Guests were treated to a tour of the newly-remodeled home, garden-to-table dinner on the grounds, and entertainment by The Michaels. With over 200 in attendance, the event raised over $30,000 through tickets, donations, and a live auction.
How To Give or Support Kids to Love
Kids to Love is a 501(c)3 organization that has several
opportunities to volunteer and give financially. In addition to the education
programs listed on their website, they also need funding and volunteers for the
Bibles For Kids – An opportunity to buy a foster child a bible for $5.
Christmas For Kids – An annual drive for Christmas gifts for foster children. You can sponsor an entire wish list, donate individual items and money or volunteer to wrap presents.
Camp Hope Alabama – S weekend camp that serves to reunite foster siblings that have been separated and offer them a home-like environment with fun activities.
More than a Backpack – Sn annual school supply drive. Kids to Love sends out over 5,000 backpacks full of school supplies every year to students in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi. There are opportunities to donate or host a drive.
Scholarships – Kids to Love honors students each year with scholarships, giving out 448 scholarships since 2005.
Davidson Farms – In addition to monetary donations, they are looking for donations of household furnishings, appliances, decorations, etc. There are also potential naming opportunities should you be interesting in sponsoring a room.
Legacy gifts – Kids to Love also works with donors on legacy gifts. If you are interested in giving through your will or another future donation, they are happy to discuss options with you.
How to Contact Them and Learn More
If you are passionate about helping children and are interested in learning more about Kids to Love, their programs or ways to volunteer or give, you can visit their website or on Facebook.
The 6th running of the Double Helix Dash 5k took place on Tuesday, April
4th, 2017 at 5:30PM with a 5k and 1-mile fun run. Beginning and ending on
Genome Way in front of HudsonAlpha, the course incorporates McMillian Park’s
unique double helix path. This very well organized event serves as a fundraiser
for HudsonAlpha. From their website:
Proceeds from the Double Helix Dash support HudsonAlpha’s work with rare and undiagnosed genetic disorders, which affect some 25 million children and adults across the country. Through the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) program and the Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine, HudsonAlpha is providing life-changing and life-saving answers to families struggling with rare and undiagnosed diseases. Using our cutting-edge sequencing technology, HudsonAlpha scientists have already provided much-needed diagnoses for children in our community. Let us know if you are interested in joining the (unofficial) Longview running team for a future race or next year’s Double Helix Dash.
As part of our Longview Gives Back program, Longview sponsored the 8th annual Summit on Philanthropy on September 21st at the Jackson Center. The Summit on Philanthropy is the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County’s annual flagship event, and Longview has had the honor of offering sponsorship since its inception. This year’s event featured Lauren Smith, MD, MPH from Boston, MA where she serves as the Managing Director of FSG, a non-profit 501(c)3 consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change. A hearty congratulations to this year’s Community Philanthropy Award recipients:
Jan Smith – Individual award winner
Venturi, Inc. – Corporate award winner
Kathy and Tony Chan/Pei-Ling Charitable
Trust – Family award winner
Kingslea Merkel – Unsung Hero award winner
We also heard a very moving testimonial from Donna Scifres, a Manna House volunteer, as well as a panel discussion about the New Hope Children’s Clinic.
The Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County’s
mission is to serve as the trustee of our community’s future, fostering
philanthropy and mobilizing partners, while striving for an exceptional quality
of life both today and tomorrow. The Community Foundation serves our community
in several ways. They work with donors to help introduce them to the many
wonderful nonprofits in the community, providing educational resources about
nonprofits and how to give in a smart and effective way. They can help donors
narrow their focus and create a short list of possible nonprofits to support
based on the donor’s goals, interests and gifts. They also facilitate giving by
hosting donor advised funds (DAFs), which are giving funds created by donors to
assist in their giving goals by offering a way to receive an immediate tax
deduction, yet make grants over time. Through donor participation, The
Community Foundation has already raised over $18,700,000 of charitable assets and
has made grants totaling over $6,600,000, most of which has stayed in the
Huntsville/Madison County area. In
addition to working with donors, The Community Foundation also works with
nonprofits by serving as a resource for grant making, networking and
Jessica Hovis Smith and Jeff Jones are both members of
The Community Foundation’s Philanthropic Advisors Network.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning
more about The Community Foundation or would like to talk about your desires to
become involved or create your own giving plan. You can also learn more by visiting
the Community Foundation’s Web site at communityfoundationhsv.org.
Longview was proud to serve as a Gold sponsor for the HudsonAlpha Foundation’s 2016 Tie the Ribbons event held on Thursday, September 22nd in the Von Braun Center North Hall.
Last year, Tie the Ribbons, which supports breast and
ovarian cancer research and awareness, kicked off Information is Power,
the Institute’s year-long genetic cancer risk testing initiative. The
screening, which is a test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 hereditary forms of breast and
ovarian cancer, was free for women born between October 30, 1984 and October
28, 1986, and was available for anyone age 19 and older living in Madison,
Limestone, Marshall and Morgan counties for $99. Over 1400 people participated
in the initiative and around 40 people discovered they have a change in their
DNA related to an increased risk of cancer.
At this year’s event, Phase II was announced. Beginning
October 29, 2016, Redstone Federal Credit Union is sponsoring an expansion of
the Information is Power initiative which will run through October 28, 2017.
During that time, all women AND men in the aforementioned five counties who are
30 years of age can receive the genetic test at no charge! Anyone age 19 or
older can also complete the test for $129, which is a greatly reduced cost.
Under the leadership of Richard Myers, PhD, The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is at the forefront of breast and ovarian cancer research and genetic community cancer screening. Their team is working hard to speed the research of understanding and solving the problems of these complex cancers. HudsonAlpha connects research-driven discovery, education, genomic medicine, and entrepreneurship into a single enterprise, making it one of the most unique areas for genomic discovery in the country. HudsonAlpha has generated major discoveries that impact disease diagnosis and treatment, created intellectual property, fostered biotechnology companies and expanded the number of biosciences-literate people, many of whom will take their place among the future life sciences workforce. Additionally, HudsonAlpha has created one of the world’s first end-to-end genomic medicine programs to diagnose rare disease. Genomic research, educational outreach, clinical genomics and economic development: each of these mission areas advances the quality of life. Together, they are powerfully synergistic and represent the science of progress at HudsonAlpha.
I recently had the privilege to sit down with Lee
Marshall, CEO and Founder, and Dorothy Havens, Director of Workforce
Development, at Kids to Love. Like many of you, I was first introduced to Lee
and Kids to Love when she served as a local news anchor. Lee founded Kids to
Love in 2004. Since that time, Kids to Love has had an impact on over 200,000
foster children, helping over 300 of them find “forever homes”. In 2015, Lee
had the opportunity to leave her anchor position to expand her work with the
foundation. Now, she focuses full-time on helping as many foster children as
possible. In addition to sharing the stories of local foster children, she
leads the work at the Kids to Love Center – a longtime dream turned into an
impressive center for hope thanks to a generous building donation from Mr.
& Mrs. Louis Breland. The Kids to Love Center is a remarkable building,
beautifully designed with details that make the occupants feel special. It
houses a warehouse for Christmas and school supply drives, executive boards
rooms, computer and hands on learning labs, as well as educational classrooms.
As stated on the Kids to Love website, they “believe education is the key to
changing lives,” so they have renovated the building to best use the space to
provide and encourage educational opportunities. Several educational programs
are run from within the center:
Preparation & Selection Program (also known as GPS
classes): This is an onsite, ten week curriculum for those interested in
adopting or fostering children. The class walks families through what they
should expect on this venture and how to prepare for their new role as an
adoptive or foster family.
For Life: This is an educational series focused on
providing KTECH students the basic knowledge to develop into independent
adults. The program focuses on topics like nutrition, physical fitness,
developing relationships, financial health, interpersonal communication, resume
writing, interview skills, integrity and how to take care of their surroundings.
This workforce initiative was created to “provide specialized workforce
training and credentialing for high demand occupations to a targeted,
underserved population thereby addressing the following three areas: industry’s
need for skilled workers, community’s need for increased employment rates and
the individual’s need to be a productive, contributing member of society.” While serving those in foster care is a
focus, the program is also available to veterans, and the community at
While I was certainly impressed by all facets of the
organization, I was especially intrigued by the work that is happening with the
KTECH program. KTECH is one of only two Siemens Certified Centers in the state
of Alabama, allowing those who finish the class to test to become a Siemens
Certified Mechatronics Systems Assistant. The coursework is taught by
professional engineers. They have graduated one class from the program and are
currently working with their second and third classes. In the first class, 100%
of the students not only finished, but passed their Siemens certification and
received job offers. Dorothy Havens joined Kids to Love in 2015 to focus her
efforts on the KTECH program and helping students find jobs after completion of
To Give or Support
Kids to Love is a 501 (c)3 organization that has
several opportunities to volunteer and give financially. In addition to the
education programs listed above, they also need funding and volunteers for the
Bibles For Kids – An opportunity to buy a
foster child a bible for $5.
Christmas For Kids – An annual drive for
Christmas gifts for foster children. You can sponsor an entire wish list,
donate individual items and money or volunteer to wrap presents.
Camp Hope Alabama – S weekend camp that
serves to reunite foster siblings that have been separated and offer them a
home-like environment with fun activities.
More than a Backpack – Sn annual school
supply drive. Kids to Love sends out over 5,000 backpacks full of school
supplies every year to students in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi.
There are opportunities to donate or host a drive.
Scholarships – Kids to Love honors
students each year with scholarships, giving out 448 scholarships since 2005.
Davidson Farms – Through a generous gift
from Dr. Dorothy Davidson, Kids to Love was able to purchase a 10,000 square
foot home on 10 acres in Madison County. Davidson Farms is in the process of
being renovated to offer a home for pre-teen and teen girls. They plan to open
the doors in 2017 and need to raise $1 million before doing so. In addition to
monetary donations, they are looking for donations of household furnishings,
appliances, decorations, etc. There are also potential naming opportunities
should you be interesting in sponsoring a room.
Legacy gifts: Kids to Love also works with
donors on legacy gifts. If you are interested in giving through your will or
another future donation, they are happy to discuss options with you.
If you are passionate
about helping children and are interested in learning more about Kids to Love,
their programs or ways to volunteer or give, you can visit their website here.