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Avery Cleary

Mary Hardcastle hails from central Illinois and spent her childhood playing in a city park. She credits her Midwestern roots as the source for her passion to connect urban kids and families to nearby parks, community gardens, and green schoolyards.

Mary is the coordinator of Environmental Education and Community Outreach at the Parks and People Foundation, working to improve the quality of life in Baltimore City neighborhoods. She is a guiding member of the Greater Baltimore Children & Nature Collaborative and serves on the Children & Nature Network’s Grassroots Campaign Leaders Team. She is also a member of the board of Earthome, an educational non-profit that promotes sustainability in the Chesapeake region.

Drawing on an undergraduate degree in Botany and an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, Mary has combined ecology and art throughout her life to encourage an integration of nature and place-based education, sustainability, and social justice. She has written and directed award winning feature films that focus on family and nature, and she often incorporates theatre games and exercises in her nature workshops. Mary is an avid vegetable gardener and loves hiking and biking in the amazing natural places across Maryland. 

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