Executive Director Richard Tucker presenting Diego Murray with the Fairbank Award for Youth Environmental Action at the Land Trust office on March 16, 2023.
This year, the Land Trust established the Fairbank Award for Youth Environmental Action in honor of longtime Land Trust volunteers Owen and Sarah Fairbank. The award and accompanying $500 prize, provided by an anonymous community member, is given to a young person (age 12-19) living in Jefferson County who has, in the last year, shown leadership, commitment, and innovation to build a community that’s healthy, happy, sustainable, and deeply connected to nature for generations to come.
We’re extremely pleased to introduce the winner of the inaugural Fairbank Award: Diego Murray!
Diego, 16, was nominated by four different community members who spoke glowingly of his daily dedication to, and support of, his rural community in Eaglemount; his tireless work ethic; his passion for nature; and his enthusiastic mentorship of young people as an assistant instructor at CedarRoot Folk School.
“I was honored — and surprised,” Diego says of winning the award. “I didn’t realize I was having any impact at all. It makes me want to get more involved with my community and try to do more.”
He was announced as the winner at our virtual Conservation Breakfast on March 16, where he accepted the award alongside his mother, Lorena.
“The greatest gift a parent could have is to see their child supported and recognized by a loving community,” Lorena says. “This is definitely one of the highlights of his teenage years and of my life as a parent. I’m just so grateful.”
Diego grew up running around the mountains and beaches of Jefferson County. Fishing and mountain biking are two of his main passions, and he says there’s barely a day he doesn’t spend time in nature.
“Nature has been my best friend as a single parent,” Lorena says. “We live as close to nature as I can manage.”
Diego started as a student at CedarRoot Folk School a few years ago, joining a teen program for a couple of semesters and going on a hiking expedition in the Olympic Mountains. Following the hiking trip, an instructor asked Diego if he would consider joining CedarRoot as an assistant instructor. He now works two days a week at the school with kids ages 7-12, and helps to run the spring and summer youth programs, which emphasize skill-building and connection within the natural world.
“It’s awesome seeing how involved and excited the kids are,” Diego says. “It’s great being outside, too. It doesn’t feel like work — it’s something I look forward to throughout the week.”
Diego was selected from nine worthy nominees. Please join us in thanking all of these young leaders for their inspiring commitment to environmental action, and wishing a hearty congratulations to Diego and his family!