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The William Holden Wildlife Education Center
William Holden was not only known for his many achievements as an actor and Hollywood film star.
In his private life he was driven by a curiosity that kept him travelling around the world for many years.
Finally when he visited Kenya he fell in love with the country, its people and its nature and specially the wildlife.
He teamed up the Julian McKeand, an ex professional hunter, naturalist and Game Warden, and Don and Iris Hunt, exotic animal specialists.
Together they built the Mount Kenya Game Ranch for the purpose of breeding and preserving endangered species.
Holden and Hunts’ future plans included the establishment of an education center as a part of their Ranch, where Kenyan students could learn about wildlife. It was a project especially important to Bill Holden. He was in the midst of drawing up architectural plans for the education center when he passed away unexpectedly in 1981.
Many of Bill Holden’s influential and famous friends wanted to help financially so that Holden’s dream could be realized.
In 1982 the William Holden Wildlife Foundation was formed in his honour, with the purpose to work and assist in Kenya with the wildlife education of its youth.
Holden’s companion of many years, Stefanie Powers took over as chairman of the Foundation, with Don as Vice Chairman and Iris Hunt, Deane Johnson and Julian McKeand as Directors.
Don and Iris Hunt donated 15 acres of their land to be used as the site of the education center.
Together the team build a unique education facility that today is visited by over 10,000 students annually, free of charge to them.
The education center also operates an outreach program, build libraries in schools and generally assists needy schools with a view to environmental education.
The facility is operated with a Kenyan administrator, graduate Kenya educator and librarian, and other Kenyan staff.
Stefanie Powers, when not working in films or on stage, continues to support and gather funds for the Foundation’s Education Center. She visits whenever possible and takes a keen personal interest.
The Hunts and the McKeands continue to donate their time and expertise to oversee day to day operations at the center.
The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy hosts the center’s students free of charge on a daily basis.
Since its establishment, the William Holden Education Center has become a model educational facility reaching all over Kenya. Many other wildlife oriented organizations have since noted the positive impact of the center. They have inspired and motivated to further wildlife and environmental education in their own locations.
With the help of his partners in Kenya and friends around the world, William Holden’s dream has become a reality.