Remembering Jill Bennetta
It is with great sadness that Flat Rock Brook Nature Center informs our community of the passing of our beloved Education Director Jill Bennetta who passed away on July 11th at the age of 43.
Jill was a treasured part of the Flat Rock Brook family for the last 13 years. She was hired as our Education Director in July 2005. Jill was a great teacher, a talented administrator of programming, and esteemed in her field of environmental education.
She started our outreach programming in schools, greatly enhanced our summer camp, and was one of the foremost experts in New Jersey on birds of prey. She was integral in the planning and design of our new four-bay aviary. Thanks to Jill’s vision, we provide a home for non-releasable raptors. We currently house two owls, two hawks and an American Kestrel. She was also central in the concept, design and execution of our $1 million exhibit renovation that was completed in 2012, working hundreds of hours with the design team to make our Nature Center exhibit room one of the best in the state.
But most importantly, Jill was a wonderful person. She was exceptionally kind and always ready to help anyone. Jill will always be remembered for her warm and friendly nature. She was also the embodiment of a Naturalist sharing her knowledge of the natural world while inspiring tens of thousands of people at Flat Rock Brook. She is an inspiration to those of us who follow in her footsteps to continue the work of protecting our planet, and passing on knowledge to future generations.
Jill shared her passion through her work with other organizations. Her number one passion in life was being a mom to her son Logan, so it was only natural that she was PTA President of his school district in New City, N.Y. She was a regular raptor counter for the State Line Hawk Watch program at the State Line Lookout in Alpine. She was also co-founder of the Nature Program Cooperative that brings together the knowledge and resources of 17 nature centers, parks, and environmental educators in northeastern New Jersey by collaborating on environmental program activities and joint initiatives.
Flat Rock Brook was honored to host Jill’s New York/New Jersey memorial service on Saturday, July 21. It was attended by about 175 family and friends who shared wonderful stories of our cherished friend Jill. In speaking with her family, we shared that an outdoor classroom that Jill wanted built will be planned for construction and named in Jill’s memory. We’re seeking partners to fund this project, and hope to have it built by the end of 2019.
The family requested that memorial contributions may be made in her memory to United Hospice of Rockland County or to Flat Rock Brook.
The Flat Rock Brook community extends condolences to Jill’s family as they deal with her tragic passing. Jill’s spirit will live on at Flat Rock Brook. Please join us by honoring Jill’s memory by teaching others why it is important to protect the Earth we share for future generations of wildlife, and all humanity.