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May 19, 2021

Parks and Rec nature program coordinator named Conservation Educator of the Year

Connie Deegan, the nature program coordinator for Johnson City’s Parks and Recreation Department, was one of 15 individuals and companies recognized by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation at its 56th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards held virtually earlier today. Deegan was named Conservation Educator of the Year for outstanding achievement in educating others on conservation.

Deegan turned her passion for the planet’s natural resources and the wildlife that inhabit it into a career. She has found a receptive audience in Johnson City where she has spent the past 10 years sharing her knowledge with others. As a naturalist and herpetologist, Deegan has inspired thousands of people to take an interest in and care for the great outdoors.

“Connie’s level of knowledge and willingness to share it is second to none and that is what makes her classes and camps so popular,” said Parks and Recreation Director James Ellis. “Her contributions can be seen in the types of programming we offer but also in the stewardship of our parks and the City’s natural resources.”

As a program coordinator, Deegan is responsible for the development of a variety of classes and camps geared towards nature and wildlife. Buffalo Mountain, Winged Deer Park, the Keefauver Farm and many other locations in the city provide a wonderful backdrop for Deegan to familiarize people of all ages with the abundant natural resources in this area. Her work also includes Naturally Yours, a weekly column chronicling the natural world.

Deegan’s responsibilities include management of volunteer groups to complete various projects within the City’s parks and along the trails. She also facilitates partnerships with other organizations to protect, maintain and expand vegetation within the parks. Deegan, an adjunct professor at East Tennessee State University, brings her professional experience with the Parks and Recreation Department into the classroom and invites students to City parks for work days.

“This is the Federation’s 56th year hosting the awards and our 75th anniversary as an organization,” said Kendall McCarter, chief development officer for the Federation. “Being our 75th anniversary and after a year when the great outdoors were more important to our daily lives than usual, we are eager to recognize and celebrate those who have gone above and beyond for Tennessee’s natural places.”

Tennessee Wildlife Federation is an independent nonprofit dedicated to conserving Tennessee's wildlife, waters, and wild places. Since 1946, the Federation has spearheaded the development of the state’s wildlife policy, advanced landmark legislation on air and water quality and other conservation initiatives, helped restore numerous species, and introduced thousands of kids to the great outdoors. To learn more, visit