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    Wednesday, June 12, 2024

    Nature center will present inaugural Maggie Jones Environmental Hero award to namesake

    In a January 2017 Day file photo, Maggie Jones, then Executive Director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, shows a young Northern Saw-whet owl she is rehabilitating at her Mystic home.

    Mystic ― On Friday, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center will present the inaugural Maggie Jones Environmental Hero Award to former Director Maggie Jones at its annual Green Tie Celebration.

    “The purpose for the award is to recognize Maggie and her significant contributions to DPNC: while there will likely be future worthy recipients among our supporters, Maggie’s name is synonymous with environmental conservation in our organization and indeed, in our area, so establishing an award with her name was a natural fit, and any successive recipients will be measured against that standard,” the nature center said in a statement Monday.

    The award, developed to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the nature center’s purchase of the historic Coogan Farm, will recognize Jones for her significant contributions toward the success of the nature center and her impact throughout the community.

    The selective award will not be presented every year, rather, it will be presented to individuals who embody the mission of the nature center, “to inspire an understanding of the natural world and ourselves as part of it — past, present and future,” though more detailed criteria for future recipients is still being developed.

    Jones, who served as the Nature Center’s director for 27 years, was instrumental in the center’s acquisition of the Coogan Farm property and worked with the Trust for Public Land among others to protect the historic farm from development.

    Over two years beginning in 2011, Jones spearheaded a fundraising campaign that raised $5.1 million to purchase and improve the property now known as the Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center.

    Improvements included renovation of the John E. Avery Farmhouse which features educational spaces, a gift shop and welcome center, and reconstruction of the Jules X. Schneider Nature and Arts Barn, which houses classroom and exhibit space.

    Additionally, the acquisition allowed the center to create more than 10 miles of trails connecting Pequot Woods in Groton to the Coogan Farm and the Denison and Avalonia Land Conservancy properties to the Copp’s Brook Watershed.

    “Maggie’s passion for teaching others about our region’s nature, wildlife and history, and the importance of sustaining the ecosystems that support us, has helped the Nature Center flourish and connect the community to the wonders of the natural world,” the center said.

    The annual Green Tie Celebration will be held Friday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Coogan Farm. Tickets to the event are sold out.

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