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 protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts' largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state's natural treasures for wildlife and for all people's vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.

Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today's and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at www.massaudubon.org.