For long-time Izaak Walton League member Dave Zieverink, living a life dedicated to conservation and outdoor adventure are goals he works toward everyday. So leaving a generous estate gift to the League was a perfect fit.
Born and raised on a small working farm in what was once the rural outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio, Dave Zieverink learned from an early age to value and care for our natural resources. “My parents grew up in the Depression and they taught me to appreciate our land and all that it provided us.”
In fact, their land – used to grow corn and raise chickens – provided the family’s livelihood. Little could Zieverink know in those days that his family home, a Greek Revival house that sits on 24 forested acres in Symmes Township, would be part of a legacy that would stand for the Zieverink family and their values for generations to come.
After graduating from high school, Zieverink attended college locally, earning a degree in biochemistry from Xavier University. He later joined the Army and served four years, including one year as an infantry officer in Vietnam.
Upon finishing his tour, Zieverink decided that to “keep the adrenaline flowing” after active duty, his next ambition would be to become a pilot – and he did just that. Not only did he learn to fly, he also became an expert aviation mechanic, working in the field until a few years ago.
The Izaak Walton League entered Zieverink’s life on a whim in the late 1990s when he was out riding with the Cincinnati Cycle Club. “From the bike path, you could see a building surrounded by campers and we wondered what it was,” Zieverink recalls. One day, he stopped to find out and learned that it was the Izaak Walton League’s Cincinnati Chapter – a conservation organization working to protect natural resources right down the street from where he lived.
Zieverink attended a chapter dinner meeting, where he was met by a friendly and dedicated group. He learned about the League’s mission and activities, including the important work of monitoring water quality in the Little Miami River. Impressed by the League’s efforts to engage citizens in conservation, and having become disillusioned as a member of other environmental groups, he joined the Izaak Walton League in 2001.
Zieverink quickly rose through the leadership ranks, becoming a member of the chapter board of directors, then treasurer, and finally chapter president. He also got involved in the League’s Ohio Division, becoming vice president and eventually division president. He is still very active in the Cincinnati Chapter and Ohio Division, and he has attended every Izaak Walton League national convention since 2004.
As more stressors affect the health of our rivers and streams, Zieverink believes the League’s Save Our Streams program is more important today than ever. “As the [nutrient] load factor on the Little Miami River increases each year with new housing developments and more people, the role of the League’s citizen water monitoring efforts are vital.”
Zieverink participates in Little Miami River clean-ups and water quality monitoring events each year and is proud that the League has worked with the University of Cincinnati to capture and certify 13 years of data on the river’s health.
With natural resource conservation and outdoor adventure as core themes of his life, Zieverink is working to make these principles the center of his legacy as well.
After decades of watching land around his boyhood home be sold off to developers (and receiving many purchase offers himself), Zieverink took steps to preserve the land for generations to come. In 2003, instead of selling it to developers, he sold it to the Symmes Township. The house now serves as a historic landmark. The land – a sanctuary for native Ohio wildlife that have lost habitat elsewhere – also contains walking trails and seven acres of beautiful gardens established and maintained by the Cincinnati Horticultural Society.
Recently, Zieverink made another significant contribution to protecting our natural heritage by leaving a generous estate gift to the Izaak Walton League. With many charitable organizations to consider, Zieverink ultimately decided that the League best represented his values. “I have witnessed and trust the League process of checks and balances and I have faith in the leadership and membership to do what is right. This gives me confidence in how fiscally responsibly and effectively my contribution will be used.”
We are truly grateful for Dave Zieverink’s dedication to the League’s current and future success. A generous planned gift like his will go a long way toward strengthening our effectiveness in promoting clean water and other conservation efforts across the country.
These days, you can find Zieverink riding his motorcycle on the open road or even scuba diving when he can get away. With the goal of living a life dedicated to conservation and outdoor adventure, by all accounts this Ike is succeeding.