Exemplary Educator, Volunteers & Partners Honored at 2023 Annual Meeting

October 26, 2023

The Harris Center held our 53rd Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 22, welcoming 100 supporters to the Center for an afternoon of celebration, reflection, and togetherness. In addition to a keynote talk by SALT Project Director Matthew Myer Boulton about nature’s power to inspire awe, we also recognized several exemplary partners and volunteers.

Tina Perreault (center) smiles with her husband and Janet Altobello. (photo © Audrey Dunn)

Tina Perreault (center) instills her young students with awe and appreciation for the natural world.
(photo © Audrey Dunn)

Tina Perreault, 1st and 2nd grade teacher at Temple Elementary School, was honored with the Educator of the Year Award for the dedication, enthusiasm, and imagination she brings to her young students as they explore Temple Elementary School’s wild edges throughout the seasons. Tina has been teaching for 31 years, and first joined the Harris Center’s professional development workshops six years ago. Last winter, she shared with one of our teacher-naturalists, “My students used to rush around outside and now they meander! They notice more, they wonder more, they stay with their curiosity and investigate what they find interesting.”

Phil Brown releases a rehabilitated Broad-winged Hawk at the <ahref=

Maria Colby (left) works tirelessly to rehabilitate thousands of animals each year, including the hawks returned to the wild at our annual raptor release atop the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory. (photo © Kim Nagy)

The Laurie Bryan Partnership Award was presented to Maria Colby and Wings of the Dawn Wildlife Rehabilitation Center & Bird Sanctuary for their longstanding work helping the region’s injured and sick wildlife, and for Maria’s efforts to inspire others to better steward the natural world through education and outreach. Maria joined Wings of the Dawn as a volunteer over 35 years ago, and remains a volunteer to this day as the organization’s longtime director. Each year, Maria and her team of volunteers treat thousands of wild birds, mammals, and reptiles — providing shelter, food, medicine, and, sometimes, long-term care, with the goal of rehabilitation into the wild. In her humble words, “It is hard work, and it is never-ending.” According to Maria, about 60% of wildlife in her care are released back into the wild, giving them a second chance at life.

Mark Ellingwood (center) worked closely with both Phil Brown (left) and Brett Amy Thelen to get our kestrel conservation and butterfly survey projects off the ground. (photo © Audrey Dunn)

We presented two Volunteer Extraordinaire Awards this year – one to an individual and one to a team. Mark Ellingwood was honored for his invaluable contributions to our new butterfly survey and kestrel conservation projects. As one of the founders of the SuperSanctuary Butterfly Count, Mark serves as our liaison to the NH Butterfly Monitoring Network and has trained Harris Center staff and community scientists alike in butterfly identification. Mark was also instrumental in getting our new kestrel nest box project off the ground (literally!) – transporting and storing nest box materials and equipment in his barn, hosting two volunteer workdays to assemble the boxes, and assisting with installation and monitoring of several boxes. As a result of these efforts, 17 new kestrel chicks entered the world. Phil Brown, who leads the kestrel project, said, “Mark’s commitment to this project has been a big part of its early success. In addition, his leadership, creativity, and positive attitude made for an excellent experience for all those around him.”

Pollinator gardeners smile for a picture on the Harris Center's front deck. (photo © George Caughey)

These Volunteers Extraordinaire devote their time and expertise to caring for the Harris Center’s pollinator garden. (photo © George Caughey)

Our pollinator gardeners — Michelle Caughey, Sara Dowse, Jean Govatos, Francie von Mertens, Mary Seebart, and Alison Rossiter — were honored for their extraordinary dedication to creating and sustaining a home for pollinators at the Harris Center. Together, this devoted group of women care for the plants that provide habitat for a diversity of pollinators: bumblebees, swallowtails, monarchs, moths, hummingbirds, and more. At a time when our pollinators need it the most, they are both providing a resource for these essential creatures and creating an inspiring example of how others can do the same in their own gardens. We are so grateful for all that they do.

In addition to these awards, the Harris Center acknowledged our dedicated Board of Trustees, who volunteer their time and talents to help guide our work. We thanked former treasurer Lois Haskins, who has just completed her six-year term, for her service, and recognized new treasurer Ethan Harper-Lentricchia. Finally, we honored three staff members for their longtime dedication and commitment to the Harris Center’s mission of connecting people to the natural world: Karen Rent, who has been with the Harris Center for five years, and Margaret Baker and Jenna Spear, who each just reached their ten-year mark with the Harris Center.