Why I Give: Kelly Katterhagen

Giving is often motivated by life experiences, family or personal passions. For FFTC Governing Board Member Kelly Katterhagen, all three drive her philanthropic focus on protecting the land and our environment.   

While she’s called Charlotte home for the past 34 years, Katterhagen grew up living near the seashore in California and then in the Northeast where her family had acres of wild woods for a backyard. 

“As a child, I was allowed to be out in the woods all day with my sister or friends and just come home for meals,” said Katterhagen. “We had barnyard animals and grew a lot of our own vegetables. It felt pretty magical to experience life that way. I began to believe that it was important for others who came behind me to have that experience. The philosophy being – you can’t love and protect what you don’t know. And, once it’s lost, it’s often lost forever.”  

Guided by that belief, Katterhagen and her husband generously support related initiatives and nonprofits with grants from their FFTC Donor Advised Fund and through Katterhagen’s board service and leadership.  

Currently, she’s part of The Nature Conservancy’s natural climate solutions projects and the conservation and watershed work being done in the Southern Appalachians. She’s also involved in the Carolina Farms Fund effort to conserve and save family farms in the region and ensure access to locally grown food, which is critical to the community’s health and ecosystem. 

The Carolina Thread Trail is another initiative close to Katterhagen’s heart. She said she’s thrilled by the progress of the greenway system and the access it provides for our community to get out and be active in nature. 

“What an incredible way to bring people together and to enhance everyone’s quality of life in Charlotte,” said Katterhagen. “Natural places – forests, marshes, seashores, you name it – are so inspiring and essential. Green spaces, clean air and clean water all support life. There’s an immediate sense of awe and one’s place in the world when I spend time in natural places, especially those that have been conserved and protected.” 

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