San Diego philanthropist Sue Randerson remembers the moment vividly.
She was a young girl walking along the beach in Del Mar with her older cousin. They came across a holdfast, a large root-like structure that connects giant kelp to rocks in the ocean. Her cousin turned the holdfast over and showed her that inside was a whole host of little creatures – brittle stars, tiny sea anemones and more. The two were enthralled by this kelp holdfast.
It was at that moment, in all her excitement, that Sue fell in love with the ocean and San Diego’s natural environment.
Sharing Her Passion
As time went on, those early memories along the beach, as well as other adventures horseback riding and hiking through the San Diego mountains, only strengthened Sue’s passion for the environment.
“I still remember the impact my sixth-grade camp had on me,” recalled Sue. “We spent five days at Camp Cuyamaca in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and I just loved listening to the counselors and naturalists telling us about the plants and animals we saw on our hikes.”
Years later, that passion for the outdoors would grow into much more.
San Diego has the greatest biodiversity in the U.S. and we need to preserve that or we risk losing the beauty that makes our region so special.
Through her philanthropy and community work, Sue became a longtime champion for connecting, protecting and increasing access to the outdoors through her philanthropy.
“We live in a very unique place,” shared Sue. “San Diego has the greatest biodiversity in the U.S. and we need to preserve that or we risk losing the beauty that makes our region so special.”
Working with local organizations and The San Diego Foundation, Sue has been able to share her passion for nature by volunteering for and supporting initiatives that develop the next generation of environmental stewards.
“Years ago, I volunteered as a docent for the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography,” explained Sue. “But my professional background was in teaching so after a while they asked me if I wanted to teach ocean science to classrooms throughout the County. I jumped at the chance.”
As a teacher with the Aquarium, Sue would travel to third-grade classrooms throughout the County and show students the plant and animal life in the ocean, and then take them to the tide pools to experience it firsthand.
“Many of the students I had the opportunity to teach had never experienced nature before or learned about sea creatures,” continued Sue. “Seeing their eyes light up when they would get to touch live animals and walk around the tide pools was incredible. Those were the same impactful memories I had when I was young.”
Having seen firsthand the effect environmental education programs can have, Sue continues to invest in similar programs through her charitable giving with The San Diego Foundation. She is a longtime supporter of the Opening the Outdoors Program and even sits on the program’s Grants Committee to help inform annual grantmaking and community impact.
As Sue describes it, “The Opening the Outdoors Program allows me to support impactful programs similar to the one at the Aquarium that provide opportunities for students who normally wouldn’t have the chance to explore nature.”
Thanks to Sue and many other generous donors, the Opening the Outdoors Program has helped more than 40,000 youth and families access the outdoors and protected more than 65,000 acres of green space in San Diego County, among other achievements.
Together, they are protecting San Diego natural resources while creating a new generation of environmental stewards.
Join environmental champion Sue Randerson in connecting, protecting and increasing access to nature in San Diego by supporting the Opening the Outdoors Program today.