Make an Impact with Your Support
Your donation helps preserve the Garden, fund our education programs, and remain accessible to the public. You help ensure the care and curation of the extraordinary plant collections and the ability to reach new audiences for decades to come. As a nonprofit charitable organization, we rely on the generous support of our community to keep the Garden going and growing.
Donor Profile: Gail Brekke
“Kids need to have opportunities like this,” said Gail Brekke about her motivation for funding field trips to the Ruth Bancroft Garden. As a longtime educator in the Mt. Diablo School District, where the Garden is located, she knew that enriching activities outside of school are important but not always equally available.
Gail was the principal at nearby Bancroft Elementary School for fourteen years and remembers the field trips in the early days that were sparked by Ruth’s daughter Kathy and her grandchildren, then kindergarteners at Bancroft Elementary. Kids from Bancroft Elementary would walk from school to the Garden and then up the Iris-lined driveway at the family residence and receive an exuberant welcome from Ruth.
With Gail’s generous support, third graders from Title I low-income schools in the Mt. Diablo school district are streaming into the Garden once again this spring and fall and free of charge, including bus transportation which is paid for by the donation.
Gail explains that for low-income schools in the area, the cost of bus expenses alone can prevent schoolchildren from participating in enriching outdoor experiences. She said every kid is “bananas” about field trips, and that in her day she would prep them in advance about exploring and learning in “a place where they grow things,” as the kids would refer to the Garden.
Under the leadership of Children’s Education Manager Marie Gelin, the third graders visiting today get a hands-on learning experience about biological adaptation and climate change. The field trip programs are aligned with California’s Next Generation Science Standards for Biological Evolution, Adaptation, and Ecosystem Diversity. The vast collection of climate-resilient plants makes the Garden a unique place for children to observe biological adaptations and various traits that allow these plants to thrive in arid habitats. Students engage in a plant detective scavenger hunt throughout the Garden and plant their own climate-resilient succulent to take home.
Gail Brekke began teaching in the Mt. Diablo School District at Cambridge Elementary in the Monument corridor area of Concord, a school that appealed to her because the principal was a woman. She also liked being in a school where Spanish speaking students were located because of her working fluency in the language. After two years there, she traveled to South America to teach in Columbia where to her dismay she had to instruct in English because most students were from temporary expat families living and working in the area.
Gail returned to teach at both Willow Creek and Sequoia elementary schools before arriving as principal at Bancroft Elementary in 1988 and leading the school for fourteen years. Bancroft Elementary is notable not just because of the naming and location adjacent to the Garden, but because it draws students from both Walnut Creek and Concord and features a successful Spanish Immersion instructional program.
Gail is revered by former staff and students of Bancroft Elementary and is certainly cherished by the Ruth Bancroft Garden team for bringing inquisitive schoolchildren back into the Garden.
Ways We Support Our Community
The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, EIN 68-0310041. Our organization will not trade, share or sell a donor’s personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations.