GPC Legacy Member Highlight: Debra & Chuck Holland

Chuck and Debra Holland at Heronswood Garden. Paul Dudley Photography.

Debra and Chuck Holland are avid lifelong learners, community volunteers, and stewards of the land and waters in North Kitsap. Salmon can be spotted hugging the shoreline at their home on Port Gamble Bay thanks to the overhanging vegetation they cultivate to support habitat. Across the bay on which they kayak, lies the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, where Chuck volunteers as a forest steward.

On a sunny Friday afternoon two years ago, Debra and Chuck set out with their hiking group, the Walking Wonders, through the Indianola Loop (a trail on the Indianola Waterfront & Woodland Preserve, on which GPC holds an easement). Great Peninsula Conservancy was onboarding new stewardship staff with a tour at the preserve, when the two groups stumbled upon each other in the woods.

Since this fortuitous meeting, Debra and Chuck have become active members of GPC, volunteering to build habitat piles near Martha John Creek and attending Walk & Talks at various GPC preserves. This past summer they joined Great Peninsula Conservancy’s Legacy Society by including GPC in their will.

Chuck Holland gathers woody debris to make a habitat pile on GPC’s Martha John Creek Preserve.

“We are glad that Great Peninsula Conservancy covers the entire Great Peninsula region and that the organization continues to grow and show such successes. We really see GPC as the only bulwark for the sensitive lands in our region. We know that the staff is dedicated to the mission, and we trust that our legacy gift will be put to good use,” they shared.

The Hollands are also strong supporters of GPC’s outdoor education program, Land Labs. Chuck speaks warmly of his childhood spent outdoors. As a former Eagle Scout, Chuck knows the power of connecting kids to nature. 

“As a kid I played outside, and thanks to my uncles, I learned how to be an adult who plays outside,” said Chuck. “Great Peninsula Conservancy gives us an opportunity to go outside and play.”

Chuck spends plenty of time outdoors, caring for their American Tree Farm System certified tree farm, and volunteering with GPC, WSU Extension, Kitsap Stream Stewards, and Kitsap County Parks. Debra volunteers at several organizations, including Humanities Washington, and consults for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Foundation at Heronswood, the botanical garden near Kingston.

Debra and Chuck hiking in Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park.

Legacy donations to Great Peninsula Conservancy provide assurance your contribution will help conserve special places close to home, forever. Legacy Society members are recognized in GPC’s annual report and invited to the annual reception event. The next 20 members who make a legacy pledge will activate a $1,000 gift match, thanks to a generous donor. Learn more or become a legacy society member today!

When asked what a conservation legacy means to him, Chuck shared this poem written by a fellow tree farmer. May we all think ahead to the powerful impact that conservation has on our community, now and well into the future.

Though I’m So Old
By Robert H. Mealey

My friends quite often ask me
Why does an old man plant a tree?

It grows so slow, it will not pay
A profit for you anyway.

Then why in storm and winter cold
Do you plant when you are so old?

The answers seem hard to define
When muscles ache and they are mine,

But I just cannot stand to see
A place where there should be a tree.

So that in part as years unfold
Is why I plant when I’m so old.

I know that animals, bugs and things,
Love trees, and so do such as go on wings.

So creatures wild can benefit
Is one more reason I can’t quit.

From planting trees while I can hold
My planting hoe, though I’m so old.

Then there is my family
Young folks who will follow me.

I’d like to leave them with some land,
Stocked with trees and looking grand.

These gifts I value more than gold
So I plant a tree, though I’m so old,

And taxes too for schools and roads
With jobs and lumber for abodes.

I won’t see things, I won’t be here
But in my mind it’s very clear,

The words of some who could be polled
Might thank a man who is so old.

Man should be proud of what’s his own
And how he’s managed what he’s grown.

But management must be begun
By planting seedlings one by one.

And so my pride, I will uphold,
I’ll plant a tree, though I’m so old.