The Heard Museum brings nature, people together

by | Apr 8, 2021 | Life & Style

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.”

For the full story, see the Apr. 8 issue or subscribe online.

By Sonia Duggan[email protected]

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