The Harris Center celebrated the conclusion of our 50th Anniversary Year and recognized several extraordinary partners at our 50th Annual Meeting on Friday, October 23. This past year has been filled with special 50th Anniversary events — many of them online as the world came to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, this was our first online Annual Meeting, with Board members, staff, supporters, and friends smiling at each other from Zoom boxes. In addition to reviewing highlights of the past year and enjoying a brief slideshow “walk” down our 50-year memory lane, we also announced the winners of our 50th Anniversary Photo Contest.
Meade Cadot was honored with the Educator of the Year Award, a fitting distinction for a man who has spent more than four decades giving his talents to the Harris Center, first as Executive Director and now as Naturalist Emeritus. Meade also taught in Antioch University New England’s Environmental Studies Department for 30 years, inspiring countless students and naturalists along the way. His knowledge of birds, mammals, and winter tracking is legendary, and his land protection know-how is invaluable. He’s a true Harris Center treasure.
In accepting his award, Meade said, “I am very honored to be included in the company of those on the front lines of education — the classroom teachers in a score of schools that we’ve recognized annually since the 1980s. Classroom teachers are the ones who must motivate students to want to learn…. But there is one other teacher, I need to recognize and thank — my 4th grade teacher, Miss Atkinson. She had the wisdom and knowledge, both of good pedagogy and of me, so that when it was time for the 3rd graders of Greenville [Delaware] Elementary School to begin the scheduled study of birds, Miss Atkinson suggested I be the teacher! That affirmational experience – some 68 years ago — helped me get on the road to being here with you today. I didn’t really know all that much back then (or now for that matter), but quoting a real heroine, Rachel Carson, “It is not so important to know as to feel.” We have great challenges ahead for sure. But I’m sure the Harris Center…will help lead the way.”
The 2020 Laurie Bryan Partnership Award — honoring former Harris Center Executive Director Laurie Bryan’s achievements in working with community partners — was presented to Chris Conroy of Heartwood Media, who donated his time and creative talent to produce five short videos that tell the Harris Center’s story, beautifully commemorating our 5oth Anniversary milestone. These videos give testimony to the expansive work of the Harris Center and were a tremendous gift. You can watch them all here.
Richard Haskins and Peter Harrison shared the 2020 Volunteer Extraordinaire Award for their intrepid dedication to maintaining Harris Center trails. Harris Center Land Program Manager Eric Masterson recently said, “Every Friday morning at 9 a.m., you will find a green truck and a red car parked at the Harris Center. You can set your watch. They belong to Ric Haskins and Peter Harrison, who are stewards for the Harris Center’s network of hiking trails. Once a week, Ric and Peter set off to clear fallen trees and brush from the trails, so that you and I can have an enjoyable hiking experience. Their service is of even greater value now as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in trail use. The next time you are hiking a trail in the area, please give a tip of the hat in gratitude to Peter and Ric for their tireless volunteerism on all our behalf.”
In addition to these awards, the Annual Meeting also included a brief business meeting, in which outgoing Board Chair Richard Pendleton was thanked for his years of excellent service, and three new Board members — Daniel Henderson, Karrie Kalich, and Denise Zimmer — were voted in.
The meeting concluded with an announcement that the Harris Center had surpassed our goal for our 50th Anniversary Fund. This fundraising campaign was launched earlier in the year to support innovative education and conservation research programs, and to ensure seamless stewardship of our lands and trails in response to extreme weather events. Hundreds of Harris Center supporters donated to this fund, ensuring very solid financial ground for the Harris Center as we look ahead to our next 50 years.