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The Harris Center celebrated our founder, Eleanor Briggs, and several extraordinary partners at our 49th Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 20. At the meeting, Eleanor kicked off our yearlong 50th Anniversary celebrations with a special conversation recounting the organization’s beginnings and her now-realized dream of turning her grandmother’s old estate into a conservation education center.
Harris Center founder Eleanor Briggs (left) with Executive Director Jeremy Wilson and Community Programs Director Susie Spikol. (photo © Molly Ferrill)
Harris Center founder Eleanor Briggs shares a laugh with the standing-room-only crowd at the Harris Center's 49th Annual Meeting. (photo © Molly Ferrill)
Harris Center naturalist Jaime Hutchinson (left) presented Morgan Cooper (right) with the Harris Center's "Educator of the Year" Award for 2019. (photo © Molly Ferrill)
Harris Center Community Programs Director Susie Spikol (right) presented Matthew and Liz Myer Boulton of the SALT Project with the 2019 Laurie Bryan Partnership Award. (photo © Molly Ferrill)
Morgan Cooper, 4th and 5th grade teacher at Jaffrey Grade School (JGS), was named Educator of the Year. A teacher for more than 30 years, Morgan works with Harris Center teacher-naturalist Jaime Hutchinson on outdoor learning opportunities for her students, including a study of the Contoocook River and its flood history. Morgan was chosen for this award because of her exemplary commitment to incorporating outside time in her everyday classes. In addition to her work with the Harris Center, Morgan has created monthly Outdoor Workshop and Learning (OWL) activities for her students at JGS. OWL activities may happen at the JGS outdoor classroom, on the playground, in snow piles in the parking lot, or even in a local cemetery. Morgan said, “Living here with so many wonderful options within walking distance and fantastic resources has caused me to push more to be outside….I also am motivated by the research that says our children need more time outside with free play and investigation. Given the time and opportunity, they never cease to amaze me.”
The 2019 Laurie Bryan Partnership Award — honoring former Harris Center Executive Director Laurie Bryan’s achievements in working with community partners — was given to Elizabeth and Matthew Myer Boulton of the SALT Project for donating their time and talent to create a compelling short film about the Harris Center. Their Emmy-award-winning production company is dedicated to telling stories that matter, and they told the Harris Center’s origin story with grace, skill, generosity, and beauty. You can view it here.
Hancock resident Lee Baker was presented with the 2019 Volunteer Extraordinaire Award. Lee co-led his first Harris Center outing – a “learn to ski” program – on January 1, 1982 and has been volunteering to lead hikes, paddles, cross-country ski treks, and other outings nearly every month since. In addition to his contributions as a volunteer outing leader, Lee has helped build and maintain many miles of Harris Center trails, regularly helps with work on the Harris Center grounds, and has recently taken on the task of mowing the growing number of fields we’re trying to maintain on our lands. We’re immensely grateful to have him in the Harris Center family.
Finally, we announced a new award, the Eleanor Briggs Medal, to be given to a person who in their work, whether professional or volunteer, embodies outstanding leadership in any or all of the following areas: land conservation or stewardship; environmental placed-based education for people of all ages; and/or conservation research. The first winner of this award will receive a medal and an honorarium at the our 50th Annual Meeting in 2020.
In addition to these awards, the Annual Meeting including a brief business meeting and a review of Harris Center highlights from the year, along with a champagne toast in celebration of our 50th Anniversary. Thanks to all for an inspiring afternoon!