by Sally Evans, 2006
Dr. Bill Holifield was the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum for the Plano Independent School District for many years. He was an advocate of children learning in a positive, hands-on, safe and stimulating environment. He seemed to have an awareness of the life situations of his staff and of the community they worked in. Perhaps that came from his early years growing up during the depression, driving a Greyhound bus, Navy deployment, and teaching science in high school. The Outdoor Learning Center and the camp program for fifth graders were a part of the innovations the administration supported wholeheartedly. I had the opportunity to join him and Dr. Jim Wussow on a trip to a Y.M.C.A. camp in Oklahoma to explore its use as a second camp to enlarge the camping program. Both Karleen Hoffman, another Master Naturalist in our chapter, and I had the opportunity to work at the Outdoor Learning Center under that leadership before a building was even built.
When the building was constructed in 1989 it contained the Living Materials Center, the home of many animals used for teaching purposes; an office for the Outdoor Learning Center program for students to come and use the twenty five acres of woods and prairie to learn about their natural environment; and an office for a member of the Plano Parks Department who worked with the community on outdoor activities. The land belonged to the Plano Parks Department and the building was part of the school district. It was a good working relationship. When the building was dedicated it was agreed that it should be called the Holifield Science Learning Center due to his diligence in making that program possible.
Many of the Master Naturalists in our Blackland Chapter were teachers in the Plano School District during the years that Dr. Holifield was the administrator. His passing in January saddened us and we will miss his cheery smile. But his dedication to education in a meaningful way is continuing on and we as naturalists are a part of that story.
Sally Evans was a teacher at the OLC or HSLC from 1980 until 1997, she is also Co-Founder of our Blackland Prairie Chapter, Class of 2006.