By Carolyn Bower~
Many classic film enthusiasts and television fans know the names William Holden and Stefanie Powers for their acting endeavors. Some, however, may not be aware of their significant achievements in wildlife conservation and education.
William Holden traveled to Kenya on a safari in the 1950s and developed a passion for the area. His vision was to save the animals by relocating them to a safe habitat. Holden, along with Don Hunt, Julian McKeand and Deane Johnson purchased land and established the Mt. Kenya Game Ranch, relocating more than 30 animal species, there.
After Holden’s death, in 1981, his longtime life-partner, Stefanie Powers, helped to create the non-profit William Holden Wildlife Foundation (WHWF), not only as a tribute to and in memory of Holden, but also to encourage and promote an understanding of wildlife education and conservation.
In 1982, the Education Center at Nanyuki, Kenya, had its groundbreaking ceremony. Today, 37 years later, the Center serves around 11, 000 students a year. Groups come from all over Kenya to hear lectures on wildlife conservation, visit the animal orphanage, tree nursery, fish farm, and gardens throughout the grounds, and learn about a variety of environmental best-practices.
The WHWF is also heavily involved in outreach. Among its many programs, the Foundation has constructed four libraries at schools in rural Africa to further educate students on the balance between conservation and the environment.
Although the distance from Hollywood to Africa may seem insurmountable, William Holden crossed it because of his passion for the country of Kenya: its people, its environment, and its animals.
Stephanie Powers and the WHWF see to it that his passion lives on.
For more information about the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, visit its website at https://whwf.org.