The Harris Center celebrated its founder, Eleanor Briggs, and several partners at its 49th annual meeting on Sunday, Oct. 20.

Founded in 1970, the Harris Center has grown out of Briggs’ dream of establishing a conservation education center in her grandmother’s old estate in the Hancock woods. The organization also kicked off a yearlong 50th Anniversary celebration, which will include storytelling, art, profiles of people who hold a special place in the Harris Center’s history, and dozens of special events.

Morgan Cooper, a 4th- and 5th-grade teacher at Jaffrey Grade School (JGS), was named Educator of the Year. A teacher for more than 30 years, Cooper works with Harris Center teacher-naturalist Jaime Hutchinson on outdoor learning opportunities for her students, including a study of the Contoocook River and its flood history. Cooper was chosen for this award because of her commitment to incorporating outdoor time into her classes.

The 2019 Laurie Bryan Partnership Award — honoring former Harris Center Executive Director Laurie Bryan’s achievements in working with community partners — was given to Elizabeth and Matthew Myer Boulton of the SALT Project for donating their time and talent to create a compelling short film about the Harris Center. The film may be viewed at harriscenter.org/50-years.

Hancock resident Lee Baker was presented with the 2019 Volunteer Extraordinaire Award. Baker co-led his first Harris Center outing — a “learn to ski” program — on Jan. 1, 1982, and has been volunteering to lead hikes, paddles, cross-country ski treks, and other outings nearly every month since. Baker has also helped build and maintain many miles of Harris Center trails and regularly helps with work on the Harris Center grounds.

The Harris Center also announced a new award, the Eleanor Briggs Medal, to be given to a person who in their work, whether professional or volunteer, embodies outstanding leadership in any or all of the following areas: land conservation or stewardship; environmental placed-based education for people of all ages; and/or conservation research. The first winner of this award will receive a medal and an honorarium at the Harris Center’s 50th annual meeting in 2020.