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  • Writer's pictureYLACES

YES Medal Award Remarks by Dixon Butler

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Thank you, Elena. I want to take a moment to thank Elena Takaki for her

leadership of YLACES. Elena is our newest board member and has been a

tremendous asset to helping advance YLACES’ goal of getting youth to actually do

science—to learn about science by going outside and asking questions,

observing, measuring, reporting and then doing research projects of their own.

Every year since 2014, YLACES has honored a single recipient with the Youth

Environmental Science Medal. The award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant to

the non-profit of the winner’s choosing. Over the last five years, YES Medal

honorees have included award winning scientists and even a multi-billion-dollar

corporation, ESRI. This is the first time we are honoring an early-career

professional. Maura Duffy, while fairly early along her career path, has proven

that she is an effective and creative advocate for engaging youth and the public in

DOING environmental science.

Maura has worked at the National Aquarium in Baltimore for five years. In her

role at the National Aquarium, Maura provides support to the annual Masonville

Cove BioBlitz, a day-long event where scientists, naturalists, students, teachers,

families, and other volunteers work together to identify and record as many living

organisms as they can find. She also supports Baltimore’s City Nature Challenge in

which citizen scientists observe wildlife and take photos of all the plants and

animals they can find and identify them to engage the community in learning

about the flora and fauna in urban areas.

Maura supports the Aquarium's Summer Citizen Science Programming in its

Waterfront Park. In this role, she engages both the general public within the inner

harbor and also works with the National Aquarium’s high school work study

students (Aquarium on Wheels), as Citizen Science Ambassadors, teaching them

about both the importance of citizen science as well as measurements of water

quality and species diversity.  In turn, these students assist Aquarium staff in

educating the community at large.

Maura is well respected by her colleagues. According to Laura Bankey, Vice

President of Conservation Programs at the National Aquarium:

“Maura demonstrates excellence in all she does. She is admired by

her coworkers for her willingness to always pitch in and help when

needed, whether it’s chain sawing woody debris at a project site or

brainstorming over ways to improve ongoing programs.  She has a

unique attention to detail, creating an environment that is

educational, yet meaningful, for partners and her coworkers.  Maura

has built trust by collaborating and communicating openly with

partners and is an active listener who promotes open communication

with the staff she manages.  She makes herself available to others

and is always willing to help for the success of the team.  She sets a

high standard for both herself and her staff and views their successes

to be just as important as her own.”

Maura has selected the National Aquarium as the recipient of the $10,000 YES

Medal grant. The National Aquarium will use these funds to expand its citizen

science and community-based habitat restoration programming over the coming

year.  With this funding, approximately 380 students from six schools will create

wildlife habitat by raising native plants in their school yards during the fall and

winter, and then transplanting them to a restoration project site in the spring. 

This citizen science program works with wildlife experts and more than a

thousand community members to make wildlife species observations throughout

the Baltimore metropolitan area. 

We are delighted to honor you, Maura, with the 2020 YES Medal, for all that you

have accomplished, and we look forward to seeing all that you have yet to

achieve as you progress along your career path.

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