Annual meeting to feature lifetime achievement and educator of the year awards

This weekend, the Delaware Nature Society will pay respects to both one of their longest standing members, and to an educator who starts teaching ecology from the very start.

It will also celebrate Earth Day with a revamped festival meant to show people how conservation and preservation are within their grasp on a daily basis.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

According to Brian Winslow, Centreville resident and longtime DNS board member Peter Flint has made countless contributions towards conservation and preservation in the past five decades, including the creation of Flint Woods Preserve on Twaddell Mill Road in Greenville.

Flint Woods is the largest remaining old growth hardwood forest in Delaware.

“Peter did keep some of his land for his own use, but he also set aside land for highest level of protection – a natural preserve,” Winslow said.

The DNS also saw tremendous growth under Flint’s tenure as board president, acquiring the DuPont Nature Center in Milford and Coverdale Farms in Greenville.

“(Flint’s) generosity of time and wisdom over many decades has made a difference in the growth of the organization and its long-term sustainability,” Winslow said.

Flint will be ending his board tenure, but joining Delaware Nature Society’s honorary board beginning this month.

Flint said it’s humbling to receive the award, which he said has only been handed out five or six times in the organization’s history.

That includes the late and former Delaware Governor Russell Peterson.

“It’s certainly elevated company,” Flint said. “It’s been said, if you’re in advocacy, then you educate; if you’re in education, then you advocate. So I am glad to do what I can to support (DNS).”

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR

As a kindergarten teacher at North Star Elementary in Hockessin, Jessica McCarthy gets to start her students on the path to ecological responsibility on Day One.

McCarthy recently campaigned for and created an outdoor classroom for North Star’s 700-plus students, where a variety of ecological lessons are taught.

McCarthy was the lead on the project, designing, managing, and being very hands on with the installation of its components.

“There were several other key staff members and of course the student's research and presentations that lead to the project actually coming to life,” she said. “It was also the biggest environmental project that two kindergarten classes and two fourth grade classes worked on for over a month.”

McCarthy said that educating kids on ecology, preservation, and the environment, is simply something that has to be done with the state of the environment.

“It’s not a myth – we’re in trouble,” she said. “They’re going to be our future, and depending on where our earth is by that point, they’re going to be the ones taking on what we leave behind to them, so they need to know it early on.”

DNS executive director Brian Winslow said that the nonprofit conservation organization, located in Hockessin, has been working to make their annual meetings more accessible to its members.

“It’s our opportunity to also report the things we’re working on,” he said.

As far as the Earth Day celebration, Winslow said it’s a chance for residents to experience the verdant DNS gem right in their back yard.

“We’ve been working hard on how we engage people with nature,” Winslow said.