John and Jane Bales

Jane and John Bales have seen much change at the Academy of Natural Sciences during their decades-long relationship with the venerable institution, though none more transformative than the partnership between the Academy and Drexel University. The affiliation, forged in 2011, inspired the family to give their largest gift yet to the Academy.

"The relationship with Drexel and its remarkable potential has created a high level of excitement for me," says Mr. Bales, who has been an Academy trustee for the last 20 years and currently serves on its governance committee and chairs its education committee. "Through that excitement, and in conversation with Jane and our girls, we felt this relationship presented an ideal opportunity to give back in support of an important mission in service to the community."

The couple has always had an appreciation for the outdoors and the national parks and also believes strongly in the kind of educational experience the combined institutions offer: the Academy’s world-class collections and research merged with Drexel’s commitment to experiential undergraduate learning. These interests in education, science and the environment are also reflected in the careers chosen by their three daughters: a professor, a veterinarian and a landscape architect who works to meld the natural world with living spaces.

This year, Mr. and Mrs. Bales cemented their dedication to the natural sciences and education by creating the Jane and John Bales Endowed Fund. The fund will provide stipends for undergraduate internships and co-ops in the natural and environmental sciences at the Academy, as well as offer support for related expenses such as travel, lab fees, supplies and equipment.

The gift also aligns with the couple’s conviction that students should be compensated by employers for their work.

"Compensation sends a powerful and tangible message to a student thathis or her work is valued," Mr. Bales says. He notes that paid internships and co-ops also encourage hiring organizations to provide meaningful and productive work experiences for students.

Jane and I believe that in some small way we should try to provide shoulders for the next generation to stand on.

Mr. and Mrs. Bales believe the partnership between the Academy and Drexel has created an enriched learning environment for both students and Academy scientists. Mr. Bales notes that the BEES program (the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science), born out of that partnership, is blossoming and provides a fertile ground for co-ops and internships. He and his family are particularly excited by the program because they believe that stewardship of the environment is critical.

The Bales’ generosity is also motivated by the fact that they feel very fortunate that their daughters received quality educations and want to repay that benefit forward. "Jane and I believe that in some small way we should try to provide shoulders for the next generation to stand on,"says Mr. Bales.

Through the experience of giving this gift and witnessing its potential impact on the lives of others, they hope that their daughters — and other potential donors — will be inspired to enrich their own lives by giving in the future.

The couple is confident that their endowed fund will enhance the vibrant relationship between Drexel and the Academy, and help support undergraduates with opportunities to become thoughtful leaders imbued with the knowledge to wisely protect the environment and its diversity.

"Without intelligent, thoughtful stewardship, without the knowledge of best practices," Mr. Bales says, "we cannot make good decisions to protect the Earth, our home."

He adds, "There’s a lot of work to be done, but we have the most remarkable platform to align natural and environmental science with education to the betterment of mankind."