The Allard family preserves nature for Medina County residents
Conservation of nature has been an important focus of the Allard family for many generations, both in general and also specifically to Allardale Park in the Medina County Park District.
Before the park became the go-to place for Medina County residents to sled ride in the winter and walk the tree-lined path in fairer conditions, it was home to three generations of Allards.
Stan and Esther Allard were the last of the Allards to own the property. Stan grew up in the home as a child and went on to live there with his wife in his later years. Until he retired, the property was used for farming, but Stan also realized that some areas were just not suited for that purpose. Rather than leave the areas bare, Stan decided to start planting trees in those areas for conservation purposes. He started planting trees in the 1930s and it's estimated that he planted more than 100,000 trees on the property over his lifetime.
Since Stan and Esther had no children, they had to decide what they wanted to do for the future of the property. One thing they knew was that they did not want the land being sold and divided to make way for a new development. Conservation of the land was far too important for them. So, in 1992, they donated the 125-acre property to the Medina County Park District.
While this might seem like an ending of the Allard legacy, it was truly just the beginning. Stan's parents had instilled a love of nature and an understanding for why it was important to preserve green space in Stan and his siblings, and they then passed that on to their own children.
Stan's niece, Marianne Woodside, said, "Our parents taught us to take care of the land and that's become an important value to my family. All of my siblings are involved in conservation efforts here, and also in the communities that they now reside."
In fact, to support her aunt and uncle's decision to donate the land for conservation purposes, Marianne and her five siblings started the Allard Family Fund at Akron Community Foundation to benefit Allardale Park. "We set up the fund to ensure that our family's land would not only be protected by the park district, but would have the funds to preserve it forever."
This fund has received donations from myriad of friends and family over the years, with different generations of Allards being involved in the decisions about how the grants from the fund will be used.
"We're passing this down to the next generations, too. Our children are involved in the decision-making of the fund and their children are involved in the activities that surround it. We want this to be something that will be in our family for generations to come."
The most recent initiative that the family took on was building a lodge at the park. Thanks to the generosity of family members donating to the fund over the years, they were able to use the Allard Family Fund to grant almost $1 million for the creation of the Lodge at Allardale.
"Aunt Esther was a teacher and had dreams of bringing more educational programs to Allardale. With the creation of this new building, we now have the place for her dreams to be realized," said Marianne.
The lodge was designed by Marianne's brother, David Allard, an architect, and will also be available for weddings and parties, school programs and community events. The entire Allard family was in attendance for the grand opening of the lodge on Sunday, June 9, showing their dedication, not only to conservation, but also to preserving their family legacy. A legacy that started with Stan and Esther – 125 acres and 100,000 trees – in 1992.