On November 15, Britt Slattery, a Maryland educator and biologist, will become the first recipient of the Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award. The award, given by the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, a regional non-profit, recognizes Slattery for her devotion to sustainable landscaping and environmental literacy within the Chesapeake Bay region.
Currently the Director of Conservation Education for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Slattery has devoted her 27-year career to restoring habitat, creating sustainable landscapes and reconnecting children with nature. As the DNR staff coordinator for the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, Governor Martin O'Malley's initiative which supports environmental literacy and outdoor experiences through schools and communities, Slattery works with multiple partners to create opportunities for kids to get outside and learn about and from their environment. In 2011, Maryland became the first state in the nation to pass a requirement that all high school students must be environmentally literate in order to graduate. Environmental topics are woven throughout various learning disciplines in all grades beginning in pre-Kindergarten; in-school learning is enhanced by family and community outdoor recreation and learning opportunities that help children become informed and responsible environmental stewards.
The DNR post is the latest, but not the only environmental literacy leadership role, held by the educator. Slattery supervised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Chesapeake Bay Field Office's Schoolyard Habitat and BayScapes programs for 15 years and filled education posts at Audubon Maryland-D.C., the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and the St. Michaels-based native plant nursery Environmental Concern.
While at the USFWS, Slattery co-authored Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping in the Chesapeake Bay, an 82-page, full-color booklet that has opened the eyes of thousands of Chesapeake Bay residents to the possibilities of landscaping with native plants and encouraged habitat enhancement and water quality protection throughout the region.
The Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award has been created by the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council to honor former Council Chair and Maryland naturalist and educator, Marcy Damon. Damon passed away in June 2013 at the age of 64 from acute myeloid leukemia. Damon spent the last 12 years of her career (she retired in 2011) contributing passionately to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Save the Bay efforts, but it was a life-long love affair with nature that inspired her personal and professional dedication to sustainable landscaping, habitat preservation, and environmental education.
Slattery will receive the Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping award at an evening ceremony in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The event will kick off the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council's biennial sustainable landscaping conference. The event is open to the public, however, the popular conference fills to capacity quickly. "The purpose of each conference is to inspire, educate and help build the professional relationships that are essential if we are to grow sustainable landscaping programs and initiatives and protect the Chesapeake Bay," says Beth Ginter, the Council's 2013 conference chair. "This year it is a special honor to celebrate two remarkable women whose careers so clearly reflect the Council and conference's mission and goals."