The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education held its annual Meigs Award ceremony along with a town meeting to discuss people and urban wildlife recently.

SCEE Director Mike Weilbacher spearheaded the evening's award presentation to the dynamic mother/daughter combo of Mary Jane Stretch and Leah Stallings. Stretch founded the Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Chalfont in 1965. It was the first and is the largest such enterprise in the state, caring for thousands of wounded and sick mammals and birds each year.

Stallings succeeded her mother as director in 2008 and continues to carry on her mother's compassionate vision.

The Henry Meigs Environmental Leadership Award has been bestowed to recipients who have shown exceptional environmental leadership in the Philadelphia area since 2006. It was given to environmental artist Stacy Levy in 2018. The award is named in honor of Henry Meigs who was an original founder of the Schuylkill Center in 1965 and its longest serving trustee until his passing in 2005, an amazing 40-year run.

Sculptor Binney Meigs, the son of Henry Meigs, spoke eloquently at the outset about his father's legacy and deep commitment to maintaining natural areas for wildlife to flourish.

Following the awards presentation, a town meeting was held utilizing the expertise of of the Schuylkill Center's Wildlife Clinic director, Rebecca Michelin, the award winning Leah Stallings, and Grid magazine's Bernard "Billy" Brow, who writes a column called "Urban Naturalist."

The panel, facilitated by Mike Weilbacher, led a Q & A session with the audience on how to best negotiate the tricky world where wildlife co-exist with humans in urban communities. The consensus was that common sense should outweigh the desire to take Facebook selfies with wild animals, especially when injured.

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