Our Shared Legacy

Our Donors

We are grateful for every generous gift that will help the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy achieve its goals.

Man Standing by a River

WPC’s commitment to protect the land, water and life of the region could not continue without the support of members. To find out more, email members@paconserve.org.

A Lasting Legacy: the Benjamin Thomas Holland Fund for Land Stewardship

Editor’s Note: Pam Meadowcroft and Jim Holland’s desire to honor and remember their son’s deep love for nature led them to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy more than 13 years ago. Together with the Conservancy, they are ensuring that WPC’s conserved lands have the funding to receive proper care and stewardship. The following is their story in their own words.

The Laurel Mountains served as our family retreat and place of wonder when all of our children were younger. We remember swimming the rapids at Cucumber Falls, Ohiopyle when our son Ben was a kid; seeing him and his siblings become expert skiers; hiking farther than we thought possible; hearing birds we would never forget. All became outdoor enthusiasts because of our time there: one completed a degree in environmental science, another does extreme hiking in the southwest every chance he gets, and another recently spent a month camping with our grandchildren throughout the Northwest. Ben went on to become a wilderness guide in Alaska; he fought forest fires in the West; he worked to save wildlife affected by the Exxon oil spill. When he tragically died in 1998, we spent two years unsure how to honor his life. Then, on a hike in the Laurel Mountains it dawned on us: we would commemorate his life and love of the outdoors through major contributions to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

We walked into the Conservancy office the next morning with what would be the first of many stretch gifts annually given in Ben’s memory. We talked with staff in the development office, had great discussions with the science staff. We decided to devote our time and fundraising efforts to support land stewardship.

The year 2000 was an early time for focusing on land stewardship. But, as we learned over the years with our close relationship to WPC, this organization was “ahead of its time” and served as a leader in land monitoring.

Initially our fund helped to cover the costs of training volunteer land stewards – giving volunteers the knowledge and skills needed to walk a portion of the thousands of acres protected by WPC and provide the necessary documentation for continued conservation. We not only became consistent donors, but also volunteer land stewards. While many land stewards come with a fair amount of knowledge about biology and conservation, we did not. We were simply lovers of the forests and streams of Western Pennsylvania. So for people like us, becoming a volunteer was a great way to learn about invasive species, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and generally how best to protect our natural world. It was also a way to admire how well our donations were stewarded.

For more than a decade now, we have been growing the Benjamin Holland Fund for Land Stewardship. Over the years we have gotten to know deeply the organization and staff. Every year we’re inspired by this leading organization: in urban greening, land and water conservation, and in connecting humans and nature (Fallingwater being an exceptional example). We often say, with a fair amount of experience now, that the WPC has something for everyone: for those who love the arts, urban gardens, or dense forests and streams; for those in urban, suburban or rural areas; for those with lots or little education; for those with or without economic means; for those with families or solo hikers. It is a remarkable land trust organization with its breadth of vision in what it takes to harmonize people with the lands we love.

In 2000 we set a goal for our fund: to help build it into an endowment – a fund sufficiently large to sustain land stewardship activities in perpetuity. This campaign will make that dream a reality. Little did we think that the loss of Ben would lead to a lasting legacy of protecting the lands we all love.

Our success will be our collective legacy, a testament to foresight and commitment to the natural resources entrusted to us.

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