Published on May 7, 2018

Earth Day Celebration Honors Nature Heroes

On Sunday, April 22, Broad Meadow Brook celebrated Earth Day in style by gathering friends of the sanctuary to honor seven nature heroes—individuals making a difference in the greater Worcester area.

It was a beautiful day and attendees enjoyed a fun, uplifting presentation by two of the honorees, Dianne and Bill Davis, about the successful reintroduction of bald eagles to Massachusetts. The Commonwealth now boasts over 60 active nesting pairs of eagles, including several in central Massachusetts. Nature can heal with our help!

These seven nature heroes demonstrate that there are many ways to contribute to the protection of nature.

Earth Day Heroes award winners at BMB

L to R: Rick Miller, Phyllis Pollack, Jackie Lynn, Bill Davis, Central Sanctuaries Director Deb Cary, Dianne Davis, and Donna Williams (not pictured: Paris Jensen)

Rick Miller

Rick has worked tirelessly to restore Worcester’s Newton Hill, establishing a very active volunteer “Friends of Newton Hill” group that has completely transformed it into a welcoming and well maintained recreation area with trails, interpretive signage, a frisbee golf course, and a fitness course. Rick has also been instrumental in the development of Worcester’s East-West Trail, creating a 14-mile trek across the city connecting parks and conservation areas.

Phyllis Pollack

Phyllis has been a life-long nature lover and birder. She is currently President of the Worcester Garden Club—part of the Garden Clubs of American—which supports a broad array of conservation initiatives focused on clean water, biodiversity and national parks. Phyllis has been to Washington DC to represent the Worcester club, serves on their Conservation Roundtable, and regularly makes calls to legislators to advocate for conservation.

Phyllis serves on Mass Audubon’s statewide Advisory Council and Broad Meadow Brook’s Advisory Board. A pediatric cardiologist, Phyllis actively encourages her patients and patient families to get outside and enjoy the healthy benefits of nature. When she had a special birthday, she asked for gifts to be directed to Broad Meadow Brook’s Nature Play Area.

Jackie Lynn

Years ago, Jackie started exploring, documenting, and mapping the many places in and around Worcester where one can hike. Jackie has now compiled maps of public conservation areas and trails located throughout Central Massachusetts, working closely with both the Greater Worcester Land Trust and Mass Audubon.

A great benefit to Broad Meadow Brook is her compilation of places where you can walk with dogs—instead of just turning people away when they bring dogs to the sanctuary, we can helpfully provide Jackie’s guide. Jackie leads weekly hikes to various natural areas in and around Worcester and is an inspiring advocate for getting outside and enjoying your local resources.

Bill and Dianne Davis

Bill and Dianne both worked on successfully re-introducing bald eagles to Massachusetts. Bill is just finishing up his life long career with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife where he worked on a wide array of projects including osprey and peregrine falcon reintroduction and the bald eagle project where he met his future wife Dianne. Most recently, Bill has served as the Central District Manager for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife where he was  the “go to” person for information and assistance regarding wildlife activities in Central Mass.

Dianne is also just finishing up her conservation career which began when she was a veterinary technician at Tufts Wildlife Clinic and then at the EcoTarium. Dianne noted in her comments that it was the “Audubon Lady”—Miss Majorie Smith, who visited the fifth grade classes at Worcester Public Schools—that deeply inspired her interest in wildlife. Dianne is the author of Eagle One, a book about her experience with the eagle project. Dianne continues the “Audubon Lady” tradition of instilling an appreciation  of wildlife through her part-time work as a Teacher Naturalist for Broad Meadow Brook.

Donna Williams

Cleaning up the Blackstone River is a top priority for Donna and, through her dedicated efforts, for all the communities throughout the Blackstone River Watershed from Worcester to Providence. Donna has served as a Commissioner of the Blackstone River National Heritage Corridor, and established the Blackstone River Coalition as well as the Blackstone River Headwaters Coalition.

She has worked throughout the river valley on educating and inspiring municipal officials, private land owners, students, and local business owners about the benefits and opportunities that come from a cleaner river. Donna has received multiple awards for her work. Prior to taking on the volunteer Blackstone advocacy roles, she worked for 22 years as an advocate for Mass Audubon.

Paris Jensen

Paris Jensen came to Broad Meadow Brook in the last semester of her senior year at Bancroft School looking to pursue her senior project at the sanctuary. She took on the task of rebuilding the sanctuary’s demonstration rain garden that is located next to the Holdredge House on the north side of the parking lot. The rain garden had been destroyed when a water main underneath had broken. The project proved to be bigger than initially estimated and Paris stuck with it, working long hours digging, digging and digging. When she graduated from Bancroft, there was still work to do and Paris committed to seeing it through.

As the garden re-build continued, she enlisted the support of a crew from the Worcester Youth Center who were at Broad Meadow Brook for training in environmental careers. Together, through heat and rain, they shoveled in gravel, then soil and then completed the planting, just one day before Paris’s departure for a year abroad. The rain garden is now thriving. We see Paris as a Nature Hero today with potential to be a conservation leader for the future.