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Harris Center for C onservation Education in Hancock names educator and volunteer of the year

  • The Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock celebrated its educator of the year and volunteer of the year at its annual meeting Sunday afternoon. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • Sam Evans-Brown of NHPR was the keynote speaker at the Harris Center for Conservation Education’s annual meeting at the center in Hancock Sunday afternoon, talking about his adventures cover environmental issues through podcasts. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • The Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock celebrated its educator of the year and volunteer of the year at its annual meeting Sunday afternoon. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • Harris Center 2018 winner of the Laurie Bryan Partnership Award Ray Cilley of Greenfield with Harris Center Land Management Coordinator Eric Masterson and Eric Webb at the Harris Center Sunday during the center’s annual meeting. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • Claudia Dery of Peterborough was presented the Harris Center for Conservation Educator of the Year Award at the center’s annual meeting in Hancock Sunday by Harris Center teacher/naturlaist Jenna Spear O’Mara. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • The Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock celebrated its educator of the year and volunteer of the year at its annual meeting Sunday afternoon. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • The Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock celebrated its educator of the year and volunteer of the year at its annual meeting Sunday afternoon. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 29, 2018 5:7PM

The Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock announced its educator of the year and volunteer of the year awards at its annual meeting Sunday afternoon.

Claudia Dery of Peterborough, who teaches a combined 5th and 6th grade class at Wells Memorial School in Harrisville, was presented with the Educator of the Year Award by Harris Center teacher and naturalist Jenna Spear O’Mara.

Ray Cilley of Greenfield, who is co-owner of American Steel, was presented the Laurie Bryan Partnership Award by Harris Center Land Program Coordinator Eric Masterson.

Educator of the Year

“This comes at a very good time,” Dery said, saying she has had a decades long relationship with the Harris Center as a teacher, and only now is she looking back and seeing her legacy as a teacher of nature and the environment.

“I got hired at the Harris Center when I was 28 and I’m almost 58 now so it’s almost been 30 years,” she said. “Things have changed on how I view my work. I’ve always been passionate about the environment, but over the past few years I’ve realized I want this to be my legacy.”

“In 1988 she began her work with the Harris Center as an intern working with Washington Elementary School,” Spear O’Mara said in her presentation. “The following year, Claudia graduated from Antioch University New England and began working at the Harris Center as a teacher naturalist. Claudia worked here at the Harris Center for 5 years, teaching students in both the Conval and Jaffrey districts as well as directing the Wol’s Nest summer camp.”

As a teacher at Wells Memorial School, Dery continues to collaborate with the Harris Center through her curriculum that includes lessons on honey bees, native bees as well as creating good habitats for pollinators on school grounds.

“Our work together culminated in the building of a bee habitat in the school yard, but Claudia didn’t stop there. The students created educational signage for the bee habitat, just last week visited a local bee keeper in Harrisville, and are planting bulbs for the early pollinators next spring,” Spear O’Mara said. “Claudia truly embodies the values that we hold so dear here at the Harris Center,” Spear O’Mara said. “Her teaching instills a love of learning and respect for the outdoors in her students. Claudia has taken students to Pack Monadnock for hawk watching, to Jack’s Pond to learn outdoor survival skills, and to various ecology camps for days at a time. We are so thrilled to have Claudia as a collaborating teacher with the Harris Center, but even more we are overjoyed that she has been such a role model for her students in what it means to be a caring citizen of the planet.”

Laurie Bryan Partnership Award

The Laurie Bryan Partnership Award is named in honor of a former Harris Center executive director and recognizes a collaborating partner. A volunteer who goes above and beyond, as Masterson puts it.

“Ray Cilley has been taking Harris Center staff, mainly Meade Cadot, since before the turn of the century up in his plane out of Keene to get aerial footage of new land projects where we’re embarking on a fundraising effort to protect a piece of land. He’s been the one taking us up in his plane pro-bono,” Masterson said.

Cilley said Sunday his volunteer work with the Harris Center started when he and Cadot, a Harris Center naturalist emeritus, struck up a friendship while working together.

“We were working on a project together in Greenfield and he found out I had a plane and asked me if I could take him up to get some photos of properties that they were wanting to include in the super sanctuary. So that’s how it started and we’d go up every year,” Cilley said. “I love to fly so it was good excuse to go up and get that birdseye view of the super sanctuary.”

Over the years, he has enjoyed watching the super sanctuary grow, he said.

Cilley was also instrumental in reconnecting the rail trail on Jacquith Road between Hancock and Harrisville with a new bridge. The bridge had been out of use since the 1930s. Cilley donated the use of one of the cranes from his company to be used to place a new steel truss bridge between the two trails.

“It’s a way to recognize volunteers who go above and beyond. We spend other people’s money, we either have to find people who will donate the money or we have to find the people to donate the services and this is a man who for the past more than 20 years has been going above and beyond providing us with a really valuable service. If you were to book a four-hour flight over the Monadnock Region, that’s not an insignificant expense,” Masterson said.

Annual Meeting

Also on Sunday Harris Center community programs coordinator and teacher-naturalist Susie Spikol announced the Harris Center has begun planning its 50th anniversary celebration for next year. Sam Evans-Brown of NHPR was the keynote speaker talking about his adventures cover Environmental issues through the fairly new news medium of podcasts.