CLEMSON, S.C. — A Sidney High School graduate is the receipient of the Fran P. Mainella Award. The award is sponsored by Clemson University.
Sarah Milligan-Toffler, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a 1983 graduate of Sidney High School. The award is named in appreciation of the career of Fran Mainella, who was the first woman director of the National Park Service. As director, Mainella focused some of her many efforts on creating systems of connected parks and developing innovative partnerships to expand services. Mainella was previously the director of the Florida State Park Service and the executive director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association. The award recognizes sustained and innovative achievement by a woman in the management of North America’s natural, historic or cultural heritage.
The 2017 Fran P. Mainella Award was presented to Milligan-Toffler, who’s 30-year career has been focused on ensuring that women, vulnerable children, people with disabilities, veterans and other underserved populations have access to the healing power of nature in their everyday lives.
From 1990 to 2013, Milligan-Toffler served as the associate executive director of Wilderness Inquiry, a national leader in providing wilderness trips and environmental education activities for more than 30,000 underserved children and families annually. Since 2013, Milligan-Toffler has served as the executive director of the Children & Nature Network (C&NN). In that role, she is leading efforts to grow the global movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children and natural places can thrive.
She has helped to grow the evidence base for nature through C&NN’s Research Library, which now holds more than 600 scientific articles on nature’s role in children’s healthy development and wellbeing. In collaboration with St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Christopher Coleman, she established a partnership between the National League of Cities and C&NN to create “Cities Promoting Access to Nature,” to engage mayors and municipal leaders across the United States in reimagining cities as places of nature connection for more children where they live.
In 2016, Milligan-Toffler was invited to speak at the White House Roundtable on Diversity, Youth, and the Outdoors and the White House Roundtable on the Health Benefits of the Outdoors. She is a co-author of the Wingspread Declaration on Health and Nature (2014). She was a recipient of the Minnesota Council on Nonprofits Nonprofit Excellence Award (2010) and the Minnesota Environmental Fund Leadership Award (1998). She has provided keynote addresses and presentations for many organizations including the Blue Sky Funders Forum, the North American Association of Environmental Education, Camp Fire, the National League of Cities Annual Congress of Cities, amongst others.
Milligan-Toffler is an avid runner and enjoys the many miles of wooded trails along the lakes and rivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband, Jeff. They have one adult son who is completing his studies at the University of Wisconsin.