Drumlin Farm Preschool and Director Honored with State ‘Award for Excellence’

Release Date:
May 15, 2018

LINCOLN—Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary’s nature preschool and its director, Jill Canelli, have been honored with a Secretary’s Award for Excellence, which recognizes schools and teachers from throughout Massachusetts for their outstanding efforts to improve energy and environmental education.

The awards are presented by the office of State Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew A. Beaton. The 2018 ceremony took place Monday, May 14, in the rotunda of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

This is the third straight year that Mass Audubon, the state’s largest nature conservation nonprofit, has been honored by the Secretary’s Award for Excellence program.

Last year, the organization was cited for its collaboration with the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust in that city. In 2016, it was selected for the All Persons Trails Guidelines Project which, modeled on Mass Audubon’s own accessibility initiatives, provides guidance and support materials for like-minded organizations nationwide.

Nature-based education is a fundamental element of Mass Audubon’s mission, and the Drumlin Farm Community Preschool is only one of the conservation organization’s state-licensed preschools, located at four of its wildlife sanctuaries. Another eight sanctuaries across the Commonwealth offer weekly nature preschool programs.

Jill Canelli, an environmental educator for more than two decades, served as the founding director of Drumlin Farm Community Preschool in 2007 before relocating with her family to Atlanta, and continuing her work in environmental education. In 2014, she returned to Drumlin Farm and the preschool, and was especially happy to be part of the community celebration surrounding its 10th anniversary in the spring of 2017.

Mass Audubon President Gary Clayton said the preschool and its director are very deserving Award for Excellence recipients.

 “Time spent outdoors in nature at a formative age is critical to children’s sensory, social, and emotional development and establishes a foundation for their future commitment to caring for our environment,” Clayton said, “so we salute Secretary Beaton and his agencies for supporting these goals.

“We are honored to see this recognition of Jill Canelli’s exemplary work in raising the next generation of nature heroes at the Drumlin Farm Community Preschool,” he added, “which reinforces Mass Audubon’s stature as a premier model for nature preschools statewide and beyond.”


Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 160,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.