Mass Audubon Education Coordinator Elizabeth Duff was recently named Massachusetts Marine Educator of the Year. This prestigious award is given annually to an individual who fosters interest, appreciation and love of the marine environment while serving as a role model for marine stewardship to the community at large. Duff also serves as Education Coordinator for the Plum Island Estuary (PIE) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project and her programs are the key element in PIE’s K-12 education program.
Duff was recognized for her continuing efforts to involve elementary through college students in marsh research, much of which occurs at Plum Island, MA. For the past 15 years Duff has been developing the Mass Audubon Salt Marsh Science Project, a program aimed at making scientific research accessible to students of all ages.
Since its inception, this project has allowed thousands of students from ten coastal Massachusetts towns to participate in hands-on marsh research.
- Students take part in diverse activities such as measuring water salinity, identifying plants, tracking the spread of invasive species, recording data on vegetation transects, assessing tidal restrictions, studying wildlife and collecting and analyzing data from various marshes on the north shore.
- Student participants not only have the opportunity to experience scientific research firsthand, but their efforts are an important part of the long-term ecological monitoring occurring in the Plum Island area.
- Student-collected vegetation transects and other data are entered into a long term data base which future students can examine.
This is not the first award Duff has received for her work. Last year she was awarded the “Visionary Award” by the Gulf of Maine Council for her efforts in teaching science and stewardship to students through the Salt Marsh Project.