Audubon educator receives national award

Ted Gilman, honored as a surprise, posed for a picture with national Audubon staff members from Audubon centers in Greenwich, Sharon and Southbury.

Ted Gilman, honored as a surprise, posed for a picture with national Audubon staff members from Audubon centers in Greenwich, Sharon and Southbury.

The National Audubon Society announced on Feb. 20 that Ted Gilman, senior naturalist and education specialist at Audubon Greenwich, was the 2013 recipient of the Tamar Chotzen Audubon Educator of the Year award.

The surprise announcement took place at a banquet at the Grange Audubon Center in Columbus, Ohio, where Gilman was celebrated by his colleagues from around the country.

The Tamar Chotzen Audubon Educator of the Year is named in honor of a pioneer of Audubon’s conservation education programs. Ms. Chotzen, Audubon’s vice president of Centers and Education from 1999-2005, led the organization’s efforts to grow its network of centers across the country. The endowment that provides the funding for this annual award was created through a gift donated in her name in 2005.

Mr. Gilman was first hired in 1974, as a birdlife instructor at Audubon’s Camp on Hog Island in Maine, where he continues to teach ornithology. While working on his master’s degree in environmental education at Cornell University, he received an invitation to apply for a staff naturalist position with Audubon Greenwich. He left Ithaca to pursue what he hoped would be his dream job and he has been living that dream for 37 years.

Today, there is nothing Mr. Gilman finds more satisfying than when he recognizes in a child that same love for birds that he experienced as a young naturalist. Many of his students from his early years now return with their children to experience walks with Ted.

One such student is Michelle Frankel, now center director at Audubon Greenwich, who participated as a teenager in the Audubon Greenwich Summer Ecology Workshop for Educators, a program that was under Mr. Gilman’s leadership for over two decades and influenced hundreds of educators around the country.

“Though I was not a teacher and by far the youngest participant, it was a formative experience for me that led the way for me to devote my life to wildlife conservation. I had never before encountered someone so deeply knowledgeable and passionate about nature as Ted. It is my great, good fortune to be able to continue to learn from Ted as a colleague each and every day,” says Ms. Frankel, in a press release.

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