“Changes in New England Wildlife Over Time”
Peter Alden is a world-renowned naturalist, entertaining lecturer, ecotourism guide and author of 15 books on North American and African wildlife, including the National Audubon Society’s Regional Field Guide Series. Peter’s interests have widened from his original field of ornithology to include all visible biodiversity, conservation issues, historical changes in the landscape, climate change, and the invasive alien plant and animal crisis affecting us today.
Environmentalist of the Year: André Wilson
For tireless efforts to create a green corridor at 15 Bracebridge Road and the connected Wilson Conservation Area. For removing invasive plants and replacing them with wildlife-friendly native plants.
This was the 36th Environmentalist of the Year Award presented by the Newton Conservators to an individual or group who has made a distinguished environmental contribution to our community. Conservators Treasurer Katherine Howard presented the award:
The Environmentalist of the Year award goes to André Wilson, for honoring, and extending, the legacy of parents Richard and Andrée Wilson, by making their public access path through Jolly’s Hollow and the Wilson Conservation Area, and the views from and all around the path, things of beauty, positive environmental impact, and avenues to community engagement and education.
André has put heart and soul, art and science, and innumerable plants and many dollars, into this monumental effort to remove invasive plant species, which are harmful to biodiversity – and to replace them with beautiful and appropriate native species. Even though these invasive nonnative plants – things like creeping euonymus, vinca, and burning bush – had been planted by André’s mother, just as most of us did back in those days before we knew better, we are sure she would be happy with the equally beautiful but now environmentally friendly direction her garden has taken. Also, freeing the soil of the impenetrable mass of euonymus created many new gardening opportunities, and we know she would totally approve of that!
It is wonderful to see children walking to Mason Rice, their parents, neighbors out doing errands, runners, dog walkers, aqueduct hikers, all using the path, stopping to talk to André, and expressing gratitude for the beautiful and peaceful pathway. André engages them, educates at the same time, gets them to come back and help, and demonstrates, through actions and example, what love of a place, of parents, and of the planet, can spur one very wonderful, and very determined, person to do for others and the greater good.
We are very grateful to you, André!
Charles Johnson Maynard Award: Cris Criscitiello
For many years of dedication to the environment, open space in Newton, and the Newton Conservators. For tireless advocacy for bird and other wildlife through environmental programs on NewTV, and for organizing the Newton Christmas Bird Count.
The Charles Johnson Maynard Award is given each year to recognize efforts “to improve biodiversity, habitat reclamation, and natural resource protection.” Charles Johnson Maynard was a naturalist and ornithologist who was born in Newton in 1845. Conservators Director Pete Gilmore presented the award to Liane Hartnett, who received it on behalf of Cris:
Cris Criscitiello is a retired cardiologist who was a wise and gentle supporter of the nature lovers in Newton for many years. He was considered the guru of Cold Spring Park. He and his wife, Nancy, hosted the Newton section of the Greater Boston Christmas Bird Count for a long time. This event has now passed across Raeburn Terrace to Liane Hartnett, who is receiving the award for Cris, who cannot be here tonight.
Cris was a long time board member and advisor of the Newton Conservators. He was part of the Kesseler Woods Committee that successfully urged the City to use Community Preservation Act funds to purchase these woods in South Newton in the years 2002-2004. He was active in the Land Management Committee that catalogued the biodiversity of many of the open spaces in Newton over a period of years.
His kind and energetic presence among us is missed.
Directors’ Awards: Anndy Dannenberg and Mita Bhattacharya
Anndy Dannenberg: For coaching the Envirothon Team and for showing students at Newton North the importance of the environment.
Conservators Advisor Eric Olson presented the award to Anndy Dannenberg:
Anndy Dannenberg has been a terrific teacher in the Science Department at Newton North for seventeen years.
She came to her teaching position armed with formidable experience, After earning a BA from Swarthmore College and an MS in Science Education from Montana State University, Anndy spent eight years doing research in genetics and molecular biology at the Univeristy of Connecticut and MIT. Then, she worked for twenty years as an informal science educator at the Connecticut Science Museum, the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, the Boston Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, and the Arnold Arboretum.
In addition to her classroom duties (which include introducing a sustainability course this year), Anndy coaches the Newton North Envirothon Team, which has repeatedly placed first in the state competition (and second in the nation in 2013).
When Anndy is not in the classroom, she can be seen tromping through wild spaces on several continents—and she encourages her students to do the same, giving them project-based assignments, helping them to find salamanders hiding in Newton’s woods, chaperoning two student trips to Nicaraugua, and so much more.
It is with great pleasure that Newton Conservators gives a Directors’ Award to Anndy Dannenberg for her work in teaching high school students the value of the earth’s wild spaces and the wildlife that inhabits them.
Mita Bhattacharya: For commitment to teaching students at Newton South about the environment and the negative impact of invasive species
Conservators Advisor Richard Primack presented the award to Mita Bhattacharya
Nahanton Paddler — Platinum Sponsor
Dolan Pond Nester — Gold Sponsor
Crystal Lake Swimmer — Silver Sponsor
Lalor and Patricia Burdick