A Game-Changing Gift

Whether on a hike in the misty forests of the Pacific Northwest or scouting lions in Kenya, the Dobberpuhl family – Joel, Holly, Samuel, Lily – has created some of their best memories out in nature. With the kids now away at college, that time together outside is even more sacred. Moved by this shared love, they made a decision as a family that will dramatically accelerate The Nature Conservancy’s work in Africa: to provide $26 million in funding through the Peter Hawkins Dobberpuhl Foundation for projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, building on support they have already provided to Conservancy projects at home in Tennessee, and in the Pacific Northwest as Seattle is a second home. 

Amazing Places, Urgent Needs

“Our family's outdoor experiences have been some of the most memorable in our lives,” Holly Dobberpuhl, who co-founded the family’s foundation with her husband Joel, explains. “It would be a shame for future generations to be denied that opportunity.” 

Joel recalls the family’s trip to Africa and credits the keen eyes of their guide for making it a memorable one – they spotted Africa’s “big five” (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo) and a leopard making a kill during that single stay in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. 

“Our reaction to Africa was similar to the Pacific Northwest – there are special places and special creatures in this world. You know them when you see them. But they are at risk. We feel a sense of urgency.” 

Stretching Funding Further

Their $26 million commitment is a creative combination of philanthropic giving and impact capital funding. Their philanthropy is helping to prove out ideas in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia that generate triple returns: they grow healthy communities and thriving economies and conserve wild places. It also triggers a matching gift to support the Conservancy’s work in Tennessee. 

“TNC's efforts in Africa are aimed at easing the tension between people and wildlife; helping to create a healthy balance for both – and that is one of the main reasons we wanted to participate,” Holly explains. 

Their capital investment is a seven-year, zero-interest loan that scales-up a proven livestock purchase program that provides pastoralists with improved market access in exchange for their efforts to manage their lands in ways that are good for their communities, their cattle and also wildlife. 

Encouraging Innovation

The Dobberpuhls want to challenge people’s thinking about how to support causes they care about. By combining investment with philanthropy the family is stretching their funding further. And ultimately, if all goes well, the funding allows The Nature Conservancy to grow its own capital and reinvest it into other conservation projects. 

Joel says, “Our goal is to bring greater breadth and variety to The Nature Conservancy’s work in Africa. We’re helping the Conservancy to test new and creative ways of accomplishing their conservation goals. Their willingness to test this model tells me that innovation is alive in conservation and its definitely alive at The Nature Conservancy.”   

“The fact that a family from Tennessee is stepping up at this level is an indication of how important Africa is on a global scale for social and conservation causes. Populations are growing and demand for resources is increasing. It really is crunch time. If we’re going to make it through, people in the U.S. and other parts of the world must also step up. It's important that everyone do their part. Even small gifts and actions matter because it's our combined efforts that will make the difference for the people and wildlife of Africa.”

– David Banks, Regional Director, The Nature Conservancy’s Africa Program 

 Learn more about the projects the Dobberpuhl family is funding
  • Livestock to Markets provides pastoralists in northern Kenya with improved market access in exchange for their efforts to protect their lands and wildlife. 
  • Loisaba Wilderness is a 60,650-acre private ranch in northern Kenya that preserves important wildlife habitat and generates social and economic benefits for local communities. 
  • The Elephant Protection Initiative is a multi-region effort to protect habitat and improve security for elephants in Africa while raising awareness and reducing demand for ivory in China. 
  • Tuungane is a multi-partner collaboration addressing the interconnected challenges of population growth, poverty and natural resource consumption in western Tanzania. 
  • In western Zambia work with the Zambian Wildlife Authority and local communities is improving natural resource management within the 16-million-acre Kafue Ecosystem. 
North America
  • In the Pacific Northwest’s Emerald Edge multiple social and environmental challenges are being addressed to protect the world’s largest temperate rainforest. 
  • An artificial cave now sits next to an existing natural bat cave in a bold experiment to halt the spread of a deadly fungus and create a healthier haven for bats in Tennessee.  


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