Legacy Giving

Academy Visionaries Look to the Future as Eastwood Associates

John and Pam McCosker have made their greatest discoveries through the California Academy of Sciences. They have explored lands and oceans. They have found fellow adventurers and opened minds to science. They have discovered a shared mission and created a shared legacy. And most important, they found each other.

It all began in 1975, when Pam applied to become the Academy’s public information officer. John, a young aquatic biologist, director of the Steinhart Aquarium, and an Academy rising star, was on the interview committee that hired her. In time, the two discovered a partnership with potential beyond the professional, and they married in 1987.

In separate but parallel careers, John and Pam helped put the Academy on the map. Until 1989, Pam served as the Academy’s public voice, engaging an ever-larger community in its mission to explore, explain, and protect. Meanwhile, John —now Chair of Aquatic Biology, Emeritus,— earned renown as an oceanographer and marine biologist. In the 1970s, he opened the Academy’s original Fish Roundabout and introduced solar heating for the aquarium. He has discovered and catalogued countless fishes in the Galápagos Islands and other locales. And under John’s leadership, the Academy was the first to keep a great white shark, accidentally captured by a fisherman, alive in captivity — an episode John fondly recalls as a “sea change” in the human-shark relationship.

For years, the McCoskers led Academy friends on global adventures where they could experience first-hand the creatures and habitats their investment helps protect. Seeing what happens when people of all ages connect intimately with the natural world strengthened John and Pam’s resolve to make the Academy part of their legacy with a bequest in their estate plans. “We want the next generation, and generations after that, to be excited about life on Earth,” says John.

“Planned gifts really are the future of the Academy,” Pam says. Today’s Academy, with its expanded mission and innovative new facility, is simply expensive to maintain — “and we get less and less support from municipal sources,” adds John. “When people who love the Academy tell me they gave to our building campaign but can’t afford an annual gift, I remind them of the incredible opportunities they have as Eastwood Associates. If we can’t take it with us, shouldn’t it go toward something that matters to us now — and will make an even bigger difference in the future?”

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