Planned Giving

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Norman Lantz: Thoughtful and Generous Planning Perpetuates Appreciation of Birds

Florida Scrub Jay by Louise Hunt. Norm Lantz's favorite bird.

The year 1994 was a good one for Norman Lantz:  He joined The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In his own words, “birds led me to Cornell.”  His long-term bird interests started with “one junky feeder and junky seed” in 1976 and evolved into a passion, lifestyle, and livelihood.

Norm had been an executive for much of his professional life—as a Fuller Brush manager, United Way executive director, realtor, and salesman of log homes in the Poconos. But it was the “junky” feeder in 1976 that triggered his latent talents as a promoter of birds and birding. First, he observed that his feeders were susceptible to marauding squirrels and bears. Second, he designed and constructed a better feeding system that was squirrel- and bear-proof. And third, he started Wild Bird Store on Wheels, a delivered-to-your-door birding business.

During those years, Norm frequently visited the Cornell Lab, questioning the staff and learning more about birds. He took the home-study course in bird biology. He struck out on his own and has taught birding classes for more than 20 years, from Birding 101 (Backyard Birdwatcher) to Birding 401 (Birding by Ear). Now, he teaches wintertime bird classes in Ocala, Florida, for Master the Possibilities. Norm founded The Village Birders in Florida in 2001. He continues to lead walks in Florida during the winter and in the mountains of North Carolina during the summer.

To address long-term family wants, needs, and passions, Norm and his spouse, Sonja, met with a financial advisor. Together they created a living trust and designated the Cornell Lab as a major recipient of its assets. They wish the Cornell Lab to use their planned gift to perpetually “encourage people in the field of birding, to get folks more involved in birding-related activities, and to fund student research efforts.” 

The Lantzes’ thoughtful and generous planning will perpetuate their appreciation of birds and will ensure continuity in the Cornell Lab’s programs in bird study and conservation. Students and birds will be the ultimate beneficiaries of their passion and generosity.



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