YES Medal Award Remarks by Dixon Butler
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.