Whidbey Institute Gains 30 Acres through Founders’ Land Sale

On November 9, the Whidbey Institute at Chinook purchased 30 acres from Chinook founders Fritz and Vivienne Hull, bringing the total size of our Clinton campus to 100 acres.

The expansion of the Chinook campus aggregates and protects a community resource, including an educational campus and walking trails; creates space for the Institute to welcome more inclusive, cost-accessible youth and social artistry programming; and supports a next generation of leaders through ongoing partnerships with organizations that use the space, including Calyx School, PYE Global, Power of Hope, and the Hull’s Spirit of Legacy program. Whidbey Island Waldorf School, whose campus is also located on the Chinook property, will continue to use Legacy Forest as an outdoor learning environment under the new ownership.

The Hull acreage, known as Legacy Forest, adjoins the Whidbey Institute’s 70 acre property and includes trails in a network which spans the full 100 acres. Facilities include a rustic outdoor kitchen; Storyhouse, a log structure that has been a home for youth and young adult programming; and a small outdoor theatre that was the birthplace of Island Shakespeare Festival.

The Hulls, who continue to reside on South Whidbey, founded the Chinook Learning Center in 1972 and held key roles during our organization’s evolution to the Whidbey Institute in 1995. They acquired Legacy Forest in 1992 to conserve the forest, prevent development, host life-serving intergenerational work, and hold the space for future use by the Whidbey Institute at Chinook—a 501(c)(3) educational non­profit with a mission to empower, connect, and inspire individuals and organizations through programs that foster personal development, nurture community connections, and address social and environmental challenges. The Hulls remain involved in the work of the Whidbey Institute and their adult son, Timothy Hull, is joining the Whidbey Institute staff team as a part-­time caretaker for the Legacy Forest and its facilities.

Plans for Legacy Forest include forest stewardship for wildlife corridor and watershed protection, as well as the improvement of existing facilities to better serve current and future partners.

The Whidbey Institute and the Hulls have structured the sale so that payment in full will be made over five years. During this period the Whidbey Institute, with the support of committed donors and the community, will improve the facilities, increase campus-wide lodging capacity, and provide more accessible spaces and programs to lower financial and physical barriers to access for a growing and diverse audience.

“We are at a critical moment in our cultural and ecological history,” said Whidbey Institute Executive Director Heather Johnson. “A unified, 100-acre Chinook campus, with the support of our founders and broader community, strengthens our ability to serve a generation of rising leaders.”

Fritz Hull said, “Both parties are eager for this and worked for this for many years. It is indeed a dream that has come true . . . and we remain committed together to the ongoing vision we have shared for this land.”

“We’re thrilled to have reached this agreement,” said Whidbey Institute Board President Gabriel Shirley. “Formal inclusion of Legacy Forest as part of the Whidbey Institute guarantees access for future generations to precious and much-loved places, improves our ability as an organization to serve our constituency, and honors the heart and soul of the forest as well as the restorative programmatic work that takes place here.”

The Whidbey Institute is a direct outgrowth of the long and significant history of the Chinook Learning Center. In consolidating Legacy Forest with the campus of the Whidbey Institute at Chinook, both the Institute and the Hull Family hope to better serve the community by providing a home for programs that contribute to a sustainable and life-affirming future.