For York University’s top supporters and Toronto’s most generous wine collectors, the Fisher Fund Wine Tasting & Auction is not only a unique chance to walk away with some of the world’s most prized wines, it’s also an important opportunity to come together in support of ongoing research and conservation programs at York U’s Las Nubes Rainforest.
More than 100 guests did just recently when they gathered at the Sunnybrook Vaughan Estate for the 13th annual Fisher Fund event, which raised more than $107,000 for the Las Nubes Project.
“By attending tonight’s event, you are helping our students and faculty to study, do research and take action for the protection of biodiversity and rural sustainability in the Las Nubes region in Costa Rica,” said Noël Sturgeon, dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), to the event’s attendees. “This extraordinary research and conservation project continues to be a tremendous source of pride for FES and a unique resource for our students’ environmental education.”
Guests bid on a wide array of fine wines and silent auction items and, for the first time ever, a paddle raise was included that alone raised an astounding $18,695 for the Lillian Meighan Wright Centre in Costa Rica. These funds will go towards outfitting the new research centre with much-needed furnishings. Thanks to a generous pledge by The Lillian & Don Wright Foundation, ground was broken on this facility in early April and it is expected to be completed in November 2015.
The Fisher Fund event also celebrated the recent landmark $2.5-million donation by longtime York advocates James and Joanne Love in support of environmental sustainability at York. The gift completed the funding for the James & Joanne Love Chair in Neotropical Conservation and provided major funding to endow the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation, named in honour of Love’s good friend Dr. Woody Fisher, a physician and tireless supporter of the Las Nubes Project, and the namesake of this annual event.
“We are deeply indebted to the thoughtfulness and generosity of the Love family – not only this year, but throughout the history of the Fisher Fund,” said Felipe Montoya-Greenheck, York’s Chair in Neotropical Conservation, who leads the Las Nubes Project. “The endowment of the Fisher Fund will allow us to increase our support for students learning about conservation and biodiversity through field courses, faculty research and the local community in the Las Nubes area.”
Fisher, who was described by Sturgeon as a visionary whose support has transformed not only the Las Nubes corridor but the entire FES student experience, donated the Las Nubes Rainforest to York more than 17 years ago, in 1998. He was on hand for the event, which took place on April 16, and in his remarks he reiterated the importance of the Las Nubes Project.
“Shepherding biodiversity through the human pressures of the 21st century will require a shared vision for conservation and agriculture, one that simultaneously preserves species and ecosystem functions while also enhancing food production and human well-being,” Fisher quoted from a recent scholarly article. “I am confident that, with your support, we will succeed in this endeavour.”