by Joan Roberts Barminski

Sam and Nancy Roberts

What little kid wouldn’t be happy going hand-in-hand with Grammie to touch a slimy sea cucumber? Or to sit with Baga to see a show about a prehistoric creature, the horseshoe crab? Nancy Roberts knew her stuff, and forged a strong bond with The Wetlands Institute, and in the process, influenced the lives of her kids and grandkids in many ways. And Sam Roberts was as committed to serving The Wetlands Institute as his wife. Together, over the course of several decades, they contributed to the growth of the Institute and helped others see the tremendous value in its existence.

They shared a happy marriage for more than 50 years – Nancy and Sam Roberts loved each other and the shore. Avalon was home away from home, and The Wetlands Institute became a family focal point, with Dad serving on the Board of Directors and Mom as a docent, giving time and talent to a place dear to their hearts. The love of learning never left them, and their curiosity about the world never diminished. The Institute gave them an added dimension, expanding their knowledge of birds (a favorite) and sea creatures, especially the terrapins. Mom loved seeing the hatchlings in the tanks, knowing these tiny beings would soon be out in the marsh making music with the fiddler crabs.

The Wetlands Institute drew the grandkids to see the programs and exhibits, each trip with Grammie and Baga incorporating an expedition to the lookout tower or out onto the boardwalk. But the touch tank was Grammie’s realm as she explained a special something about each animal and instilled the spirit of inquiry in young minds. She served in this capacity as a docent, enhancing the experience of many children, and also led beach walks for the more adventurous.

Both Sam and Nancy gave their time and talents to move the Institute forward in its mission to guide young and old alike in gaining an appreciation of the wildlife found in the marsh and at the beach. They valued the Institute greatly and remembered it fondly in their bequests, and were pleased and proud to be part of an organization dedicated to serving the community and the ecosystem. Our family ties to The Wetlands Institute encompass four generations, and we thank Nancy and Sam for showing us the beauty all around us at the shore.