Forest Society Honors Ellen Kenny as Volunteer of the Year
CONCORD, N.H. (Oct. 8, 2020)— Each year, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests announces the organization’s Trish Churchill Volunteer of the Year Award at its Annual Meeting held in the fall. This annual award honors those exemplary people who have volunteered their time, resources, and energy to help the Forest Society achieve its mission. While this year’s meeting took place virtually, it did not take away from the meaning of one of the organization’s most prestigious recognitions.
“Ellen has incredible patience and an amazing eye for shooting wildlife photos,” states Carrie Deegan, director of volunteers and community engagement for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “Her gift to the Forest Society is not only the time she volunteers to take photos and share wildlife stories, but also the time she spends with young people on our Floodplain property. Our staff have been beneficiaries of her connections to our increasingly diverse community of Concord neighbors. Ellen’s spirit and love for the outdoors is evident when you see her with her students.”
Kenny assists the Forest Society daily with an early morning routine that includes opening the Floodplain parking lot gate for visitors. Her daybreak walks with camera in hand, have captured stunning photos of the plants, animals, and landscapes of the Merrimack River Floodplain. She has generously shared permission to use these photos without cost or restrictions for the organization’s publications, e-newsletters, website, and social media. Among her subjects are seldom-seen animals like bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, nesting wood ducks, mink, beavers, and turtles. In recent years, Kenny has accompanied her photos with written blogs about her experiences for the Forest Society’s website.
As an English teacher at Broken Ground Elementary School, Kenny has helped engage a new generation of students with the Forest Society and the Merrimack River Floodplain. With many students from immigrant families and refugees from African and Asian nations, she has made it a priority to help them connect to their new homes in Concord by exploring the forest and riverbank of the Merrimack River Floodplain. She has created opportunities for students and her staff colleagues in summer school sessions to visit the Floodplain trails to both learn and enjoy unstructured time to swim, explore, and share.