Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary Gift

It’s been around in Fayette County since 1943, but its longevity doesn’t mean a Fayette County landmark doesn’t need help remaining open and conducting its activities vital to the world of birds and wildlife.

That’s how Donna Lambert, and her family, felt, especially evidenced in 1996 when, in the wake of her passing, the family created the Gilbert Lambert Family Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary endowment at the Fayette County Foundation.

The sanctuary, of course, is one of Fayette County’s crown jewels, consisting of more than 700 acres due to Alice and Finley Gray, who gave more than 600 acres of property to the reserve, which is named in memory of their daughter, Mary.

The sanctuary, which now numbers more than 700 acres due to gifts of more property from Indiana Audubon Society members, is one of the main hot spots for the Indiana Audubon Society. Its wooded terrain helps serve as a wildlife refuge for birds and other wildlife, while also often being a spot for learning about wildlife.

From bird-watching to bird-banding, hiking and wildlife exploration, the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary lives on daily – literally – in part to the giving spirit of local residents such as the Lambert family.

That giving spirit was evident in 1996, when after Donna passed, her family created the endowment at the FCF with an initial seed of $56,699. Today, 22 years later and due to the interest accrued and other donations to the endowment, it now exceeds $150,000.

Carl and Amy Wilms, who serve as caretakers of the sanctuary for the Indiana Audubon Society – which has owned the sanctuary since 2005 – recently accepted a $6,241.34 grant award from the FCF Gilbert Lambert Family Mary Gray endowment, during the FCF’s recent endowment grant award cycle.

Those funds will add with the caretaking of the sanctuary, its preservation efforts and its educational programming.

All of it, as one could imagine Donna Lambert saying, “this is for the birds.”

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