College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Environmental Science & Policy

ENSP Alumus Wins Outdoor Education Award

Curtis Bennett ('09) was selected by MAEOE as the 2018 recipient of the Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award
Photo Credit: 
Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE)

Congratulations to Curtis Bennett (ENSP - Wildlife Class of 2009), who recently won The Robert A. Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award.  Curtis recently received this award at the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) conference, which was held February 1-4, 2018, in Ocean City, MD.

This article was taken from the MAEOE 2018 Conference Program, which can be found here:

  “The MAEOE Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates leadership and innovation in environmental and outdoor education. Bob Finton personified enthusiasm, innovation and excellence in the field of environmental education. This award honors his memory by rewarding the efforts of those who strive for these qualities.

Congratulations to Curtis Bennett, Director of Conservation, Community Engagement at the National Aquarium.

At first glance, Curtis Bennett appears to be a quiet, unassuming kind of guy, but it doesn’t take long to discover and get infected by the dedicated passion he has for encouraging others to get involved in caring and learning about the natural world around us. As the Director of Conservation Community Engagement at the National Aquarium, Curtis spends a lot of time in the underserved communities of Brooklyn and Curtis Bay in South Baltimore.

At Benjamin Franklin High School, Curtis has helped them plan, plant and maintain bay grasses in their courtyard to be used for shoreline restoration projects at sites such as nearby Masonville Cove. “Curtis has been one of the most valuable resources that Ben Franklin has in the science department”, said science teacher, Hillary Clayton. “He is always offering ideas, opportunities, and support to our programs, and is dedicated to seeing that our students can access a fantastic science education. As the kids call him, ‘Uncle Curtis’ is an AMAZING partner for our schools and I don’t know what we would do without him!” He aided the school in developing a partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to obtain a grant to plan and construct a rain garden on the campus. He visits the school often and is on a first name basis with most of the students in the environmental science classes.

Curtis is also a very familiar face in the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay communities. He is a regular on the meeting agenda of several community associations where he helps to organize community cleanup days and educates them on the impact trash and debris has on the Chesapeake Bay. He was instrumental in obtaining a grant for the Pathway Church of God to design and plant a native garden at the Dream Center, transforming a vacant area into a community green space in a Brooklyn neighborhood.

At community festivals, he provides opportunities for fun, creative, hands-on experiences that also teaches environmental stewardship.

Through the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership at Masonville Cove, Curtis represents the National Aquarium, coordinating activities with the Maryland Port Administration, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Living Classroom Foundation. “Curtis is a great partner to work with at the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and campus”, said Christine Redline of Living Classrooms Foundation. “He is super organized, speaks inclusively as a partner, and is very helpful in making sure up to 500

students get the chance to safely plant shoreline grasses as part of the annual Masonville Cove festival.” Patty Parsley at the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center added, “Curtis has transformed the conservation team into a vibrant, focused group. He is one of the most earnest and enthusiastic conservation leaders that I have encountered. This past summer we worked together on several community events in Curtis Bay/Brooklyn and at Masonville Cove. His commitment and joy in engaging the community was evident in every encounter with community members”.”

Thank you to the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education for writing such a great piece!  And congratulations, again, Curtis!

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