Just a short drive away, every day is Earth Day at the Heard Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern McKinney where 289 acres of flora and fauna are dedicated to conservation, education and preservation efforts.
In the 54 years since the Heard opened, this natural oasis has served as a teaching tool for children and adults alike who visit to walk the trails, check out the museum, or participate in one of the many programs offered.
Founded by McKinney philanthropist Bessie Heard in 1967 at 80 years old, the sanctuary was envisioned by the founder as a place “where future generations could visit to experience nature.”
Acting as the steward of Bessie’s vision for the last 14 years is Executive Director Sy Shahid, a successful “serial” entrepreneur who claims he had a “nose for business, not museums” when he took over his wife’s position on the Heard board when she left to complete her doctorate. Shahid served on the board for six years, including three years as president, prior to accepting the executive director position.
“I got here, and I never left — 20 years later,” he says laughing.
Shahid’s business acumen has proven helpful in his efforts to make the private museum/sanctuary profitable, and at the same time ensure the nonprofit stays true to its original mission.
Shahid said he’s thankful Bessie made sure the Heard was protected in its bylaws.
“This property can never not be a wildlife sanctuary,” he said. “Even if the Heard Museum ceases to exist, it must be given to another nonprofit to continue operations as a wildlife sanctuary. It cannot be sold for millions. It has to stay where it is, so that’s good protection. The oasis will be retained, which it has been for 54 years, and hopefully another 54 years.”
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By Sonia Duggan • [email protected]