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Washington, DC – With a big stride and a love for the landscape, Johnny Appleseed scattered his seeds across the American Wilderness, a symbol for the possibilities of our country and the difference one person can make.
While the story of Johnny Appleseed has since receded into folklore, his spirit endures through the America the Beautiful Fund, a national 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to assisting volunteer efforts to improve communities and preserve the beauty of our land. Since its inception in 1965, the organization has helped develop more than 50,000 citizen-initiated projects nationwide.
“We respond to citizen initiatives. We don’t tell people what to do. That’s our secret,” says Nanine Bilski, president of the America the Beautiful Fund. “When they need help, they find us and we’re there to assist. If they get that far, they’re probably worth helping.”
Throughout its history, the fund has relied on the creativity and energy of ordinary citizens looking to do their part to keep America beautiful. The fund was first created in response to President Lyndon Johnson’s White House Conference on National Beauty, a call for citizen action to preserve the country’s natural beauty and historic landmarks.
“We always respond to the needs of the country at the moment in whatever way we can from our meager resources,” says Bilski.
Indeed, the organization has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to changing times and circumstances. Once a source of seed money, the fund has since evolved into a source for actual flower seeds.
“It is a struggle in this recession for all non-profits; we’re not high on the list of donation priorities and there aren’t that many people left to donate,” says Bilski: “But we’ve found these seeds are almost better than seed money.”
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