Great Falls Sunrise
Great Falls Sunrise A 1957 Conservancy publication helped galvanize support for a park at Great Falls on the Potomac River. The National Park Service opened Great Falls Park in 1966. © Tom Hamilton

Meet our Donors

Donor Spotlight

Dr. Bennett Hollenberg

For North Carolina resident Dr. Bennett Hollenberg, outdoors is the place to be. As a boy growing up in rural Indiana, he spent his days exploring streams, fields and woodlands to satisfy the innate curiosity he held for just about everything he could find in nature. He had aspirations of becoming a field biologist, but ultimately chose a career in medicine as his father had done before him.

Bennett kept nature close as a hobby, and later moved to central North Carolina where he could be two hours from the mountains and three hours from the beach. When he retired from a 33-year career as a diagnostic radiologist in Charlotte, he found even more time to connect with the natural world in very special ways.

An avid cyclist, Bennett takes bicycle vacations every year, often traveling with touring groups on converted railway trails that wind along rivers and through rural and agricultural areas. He has a few favorites close to home, such as the Great Allegheny Passage from Pennsylvania to Maryland, but has ventured as far as Europe. Trips usually last around a week, and the bikers ride about 40 miles a day, stopping at historic inns and other points of interest along the way. “Part of the joy is the other people you meet,” Bennett says. “You bond quickly.” Bennett has also traveled with TNC to explore the natural beauty of the Kansas prairie, the Yucatán Peninsula, the Great Lakes and other sites.

In between trips, Bennett—an amateur naturalist—also experiences the outdoors in more traditional ways. “As much as I enjoy bicycling, it is not really the best way to appreciate nature,” he says. He loves birding, hiking, gardening, woodworking, planting trees and observing wildflowers. Above all, he is passionate about conservation.

“Modern society tends to underappreciate how much we rely on our natural environment,” Bennett says. “All too often we neglect measures to preserve and protect it.” Although he supports many conservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy is his favorite. In fact, he has supported TNC for an incredible four decades! “TNC has the expertise to identify ecosystems most deserving and greatest in need of protection, and to manage them properly and on the scale that today’s environmental crisis requires.”

Bennett decided to take his commitment a step further by including a gift to TNC in his will. “This way of giving enables me to maintain control of my financial resources and to live off of the income from those resources as long as I am living,” he says. “My ability to help empower TNC to continue its work after I am gone brings to me a great deal of pride and satisfaction.”