First-ever Eleanor Briggs Award Presented to Author Sy Montgomery

June 14, 2023

A Lifetime of Dedication to Our Natural World

On Saturday, June 10, the Harris Center hosted our annual special event for supporters — this year called “Turtles All the Way!” — welcoming nearly 200 people to our grounds for a morning of celebration and learning. The event also served as an opportunity to unveil the Harris Center’s newly imagined Eleanor Briggs Award, presented to local author and naturalist Sy Montgomery. The award includes a cash gift and a lino print plaque by local Hancock artist Kim Cunningham.

Two smiling women, Eleanor Briggs and Sy Montgomery, hold the Eleanor Briggs Award, a Lino print plaque, matted and framed. (photo: Ben Conant)

Eleanor Briggs (left) and Sy Montgomery pose with the award. (photo © Ben Conant)

Created and named in honor of the Harris Center’s trailblazing founder, the Eleanor Briggs Award signifies a lifetime of dedication to the protection of our natural world. Briggs herself was a visionary, ahead of her time in the 1960s. She was devastated when her family sold off their land — the land she had explored and loved as a child — so she bought it back piece by piece to protect it from development and also opened a conservation education center for the public to enjoy, the Harris Center for Conservation Education. Briggs’ dedication to the natural areas of her childhood has forever shaped this region, leading to the conservation of large swaths of contiguous wilderness for wildlife to roam and people to enjoy. To date, the Harris Center has protected over 25,000 acres and connected countless children and adults to the natural world.

Sy Montgomery speaks at a podium, accepting her award (photo: Ben Conant)

Sy Montgomery accepts the Eleanor Briggs Award. (photo © Ben Conant)

Eleanor Briggs presented the award to recipient Sy Montgomery, singing her praises. Montgomery is a world-renowned author who has devoted her life work to helping people better understand, respect, and care about many of the animals with whom we share our home: octopuses, hummingbirds, hawks, tigers, and more. A prolific writer, Montgomery has penned 34 books, many of which have garnered honors. She writes for children as well as adults, and most recently published a children’s book about the wonders of turtles in collaboration with Hancock-based wildlife artist Matt Patterson.

The huge impact that these two women have had on the natural world and our understanding of it serves as a reminder for us all to harness our passion, our dedication, and our talents for positive change.