After a successful career in agricultural sustainability in Houston, Craig Watson and his wife, LeAnn, retired in Clayton County to be closer to their four grandchildren and their childhood home.
“We both grew up on farms within Clayton County, so I indeed grew up with that connection to the farm.” he says. “The connection to Northeast Iowa always stuck with us and reminded us of where we came from.”
After years of charitable giving, the Watsons learned about the benefits of using a donor-advised fund to create a private foundation at the Clayton County Foundation for the Future. They established the Watson-Rugland Endowment in 2011 to honor their parents and their lives on the farm.
“Being able to name the Foundation was particularly important to me to not only honor our parents and their life on farms here in Northeast Iowa, but also the names of our family before them,” says LeAnn. “We want our children to continue to have a connection to Clayton County.”
In 2017, their family endowment supported the Clayton County Energy District, a local nonprofit organization focused on developing local clean energy options. The organization led home energy assessments for Clayton County residents, which will help residents improve appliance combustion safety, home comfort and shrink their energy bills.
“It is important to provide more information, so in turn people in small communities can make more informed decisions,” says Craig. “In a small way, these people can impact not only the expenditures for their home, but also contribute to some type of small benefit to the environment.”
LeAnn adds that the personal connection is what set the Foundation apart.
“Rather than just writing a check, we’ve had personal connections with the people we’ve impacted,” she says. “It’s that human connection—even a small amount can be the spark that a group needs to get going and to realize that somebody really does care.”
Read more stories about the impact we’re making in Clayton County by visiting www.dbqfoundation.org/CCFF.