A recently established permanent endowment by Margaret Holler of Auburn will benefit the operations and community programs of the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve, also known as the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center, or KPNC. Equally important, it honors the devotion to conservation and environmental education demonstrated by her late husband, Nicholas “Nick” Holler.
Since 1993, the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center has provided the community with an outdoor preserve – complete with five miles of hiking trails, an amphitheater, a pavilion and a nature playground – open from sunrise to sunset with no admission fees. Louise Kreher Turner and Frank Allen Turner gifted the 120-acre property to Auburn as a place where School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences students and faculty could engage the community through educational programs and also conduct field studies and academic research. Now one of the area’s most popular nature destinations, the preserve attracts more than 25,000 visitors annually and provides educational programs for nearly 5,000 K-12 students and 3,000 residents each year.
Margaret Holler’s passion for the KPNC has spanned nearly 15 years, leading her to serve first as its staff administrator from 2001 to 2008 and since 2008 as a volunteer. Together, the Hollers helped establish the vision for the preserve and have worked diligently to transform it from a fledgling nature center into the regionally recognized educational resource and environmental laboratory it is today. Nick Holler’s contributions to the Kreher Preserve included creating a species inventory of birds and butterflies found at the property as well as its annual 5K Trail Run, now in its 15th year.
“Nature provides us with a classroom full of interesting and wonder-filled learning experiences,” Margaret Holler said. “My hope is the KPNC will continue to be a place where children, families and all who visit will gain a better understanding through their experiences of the unlimited and inherent capacity nature has to teach and to heal. Learning to care for the earth, and all that inhabit it, and recognizing the many ‘miracles’ we can experience every day will, I believe, bring about a more peaceful and caring society and world. As John Flicker, former president of the National Audubon Society said, ‘every community needs a nature center just like it needs a school, church and a library.'”
A beloved faculty member, community leader and Auburn resident, Nick Holler was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1970 to 1993, as well as unit leader of Auburn’s Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and a professor of zoology and wildlife sciences from 1985 to 1998. Upon his retirement from the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences as a professor emeritus in 1998, he accepted a ministerial calling and served as Auburn United Methodist Church’s congregational care minister for 11 years. The Hollers had been married for 30 years when he passed away in 2013.
The legacy the Hollers established together through their service to KPNC endures through this endowment and Margaret Holler’s continued leadership on its advisory board. A former Montessori teacher, she is an acclaimed environmental educator herself, having received the prestigious Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award as the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Educator of the Year in 2005; the Civitan International Citizen of the Year award in 2001; the W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award in 2001; the Alabama Master Gardener’s “Top Hours of the Year” award in 2004; the Auburn Beautification Council’s “Pat on the Back Award” in 2006; and recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow by The Rotary Foundation.
As an endowment, Margaret Holler’s original donation will remain intact and unspent in perpetuity, with the earnings on this invested principal distributed annually to fund the preserve’s operations and community programming. Additional contributions to honor Nick Holler and expand the impact of the Nicholas R. Holler and Margaret E. Holler Endowment can be made to the Auburn University Foundation by contacting the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Development Office at (334) 844-1983 or firstname.lastname@example.org or by giving online at www.auburn.edu/giving.
Currently, Auburn University is seeking to raise $1 billion through “Because This is Auburn — A Campaign for Auburn University,” a comprehensive and historic fundraising effort in support of its students, faculty, programs and facilities. As part of the campaign, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences seeks to raise $19.8 million to fund priorities that include 20 new scholarships, four additional faculty positions and expanded funding for research.
Learn more about the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center at www.auburn.edu/preserve.
(Written by Jamie Anderson)