In Memory of Deb Smith


Photo gallery of Deb Smith

On the morning of October 9, 2009, BEEC lost one of it’s greatest teachers, and this world one of it’s most vibrant, generous women. Through her work at BEEC Deb brought joy to many; she touched the lives and spirits of countless area youth and teachers.

Deb began working for BEEC in 1994, initially coordinating a water quality project before becoming our first school program coordinator in 1997. She brought her great wealth of knowledge of water ecology to many of our programs, including the Watershed Stewardship Program for middle school students that she designed in 2004, the Vernal Pool and Pond programs that she taught, and the River Ecology units that she brought to many classrooms. She was the macroinvertebrate expert on staff! Many will remember her programs on Monarch butterflies. Along with the Brattleboro area school communities, Deb worked with teachers and students in many outlying schools including Jamaica, Wardsboro, Marlboro, Newfane, Brookline, Putney, and Guilford to name a few.

Working with Deb here in the office at BEEC, as well as out in the field with students, was an immeasurable gift. She brought her infectious enthusiasm, gentle wit, insatiable curiosity, and her extensive knowledge of the natural world to every encounter. She could combine her ability to see the whole with her attention detail when designing curriculum. She knew the ways of children, as well as the science she was sharing with them, always engaging the individual while orchestrating the group. Her easy laugh and playful spirit brought a lightness to even the greyest of March days here in our office.

While there will remain always a void in our days without Deb here by our side, please join us in celebrating her as she so celebrated and tended the spirits of those around her and the Earth she so loved. If you haven’t already, come climb Heifer Hill and drink in the glorious views of Mt Monadnock, Round Mountain and the brilliant reds and oranges that this Fall is offering. Take a hike on our new trail that has been built in Deb’s honor (maps available at the kiosk).

Although no one who could beat Deb’s imitations of frog calls, we do challenge you to sing out her song by whipping up a delicious frog chorus with your family and friends at home, following Deb’s recipe below. (Originally printed in our Summer 1998 news letter.)

Make a Delicious Frog Chorus With Your Families and Friends
A good way to remember which frog sings which song is to come up with memory aids which link words to sounds. It can also be a fun and funny way to entertain your selves in a group. These frogs are singing about an extraordinary feast. Of course, real frogs are singing about territory and mates. The frogs are introduced in order of their appearance from spring to summer.

Frog Their Sound Your Word
Wood Frogs sound like crazy quaking ducks wiggle-jello, jello-wiggle-jello, wiggle
(loud and nasal)
Peepers high, rapid peep-peep tomato, tomato, tomato
American Toad long, melodious trill dilllll (stop) dillllll
Pickerel Frog low, soft snore olives (said AHHHHlives, mouth open wide)
Gray Treefrog abrupt trill grapes! grapes! (roll the grr in back of throat)
Bullfrog lowest sound in pond maaaashed potatoes (mashed in a vibrating jug-o-rum, potatoes in your lowest voice)
Green Frog like a plucked banjo string Fried Rice Now (descending, out of tune, each word stressed, assertive)

Let everyone decide what kind of frog to be. Have them get into groups, and encourage them to practice their parts. Begin to tell the story of the pond: “It’s mid-March and Wood Frogs wake up and hop on down to the local pond or vernal pool.” (Wood Frogs sing) “And this wakes up the Peepers.” (Peepers join in) And on and on until all the frogs are singing in one big chorus. Then explain how the Wood Frogs leave the pond, (Wood Frogs quiet) and on and on until just the Green Frog is left. Then silence! Have fun chorusing up this unique feast!
Written by Deb Smith Summer ‘98

To make a donation to the Deb Smith School and Camp Scholarship Fund, please call 257 5785 or email beec@ .