Helen Dalbeck, 2019 NHEE Environmental Educator of the Year

Helen Dalbeck

Former Amoskeag Fishways Executive Director

Helen served as the Director of the Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center for almost 20 years (since October 1999). The Fishways reaches approximately 25,000 people per year. The year round education center at the Amoskeag Fishways, where Helen is the Director, closed on March 8, 2019 and transitioned back to a seasonal visitors’ center, open only during fish migration season in April-May-June. Helen has poured her heart and soul into making the Fishways an exemplary and unique education center. She mentored many naturalists, allowing them to develop and grow their skills and EE repertoire under her tutelage. She is responsible for the creation of many effective environmental education programs for all ages. During the 24 years of partnership that kept the center open year round, Fishways programs reached 127,000 Manchester area school children through 5,350 school programs!

Whether it was through direct interpretation with visitors, teaching programs, or program development, Helen has reached and affected the lives of countless learners of all ages at the Fishways. One of the things that best exemplifies her work is her commitment to systems thinking, mindfulness and sharing strategies with other educators.

Helen’s teaching always incorporates a description of how the program content relates to the larger ecological picture. When she leads tours or teaches programs related to the Amoskeag Fishways site and fish ladder, she routinely includes a discussion focused on how the site connects to the larger Merrimack River ecosystem and watershed. Visitors inevitably leave with a better understanding of the connections between migrating fish, other river life, people, the Merrimack River and its watershed.

One of the most effective strategies to engage students in environmental studies in lasting and meaningful ways is to educate teachers and leaders in program delivery, engaging activities and self-reflection. Helen is a gifted teacher who has led numerous workshops designed to energize and empower teachers to feel confident with environmental education techniques to create cross-curriculum application.

Helen encouraged Fishways staff to incorporate mindfulness into both their teaching and program design, which created a meaningful and effective change in the way Fishways programs were delivered. Helen has developed and taught mindfulness programs where she helps participants connect to their inner selves through experiences in nature. She also developed and facilitated teacher workshops about mindfulness in the classroom, helping teachers create a more focused and calm learning environment.

-Michael Bartlett