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Conservation Halton Awards 2015

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Conservation Halton (CH) held its 33rd annual Conservation Halton Awards on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at the Milton Centre for the Arts. The awards are presented to people and organizations that make outstanding contributions to conservation in the Halton watershed, which includes Halton, Peel, Hamilton and Puslinch.

Every person, group, or school, in the various awards categories (except for the Parks Volunteer Award) are nominated from the community. The 2015 award recipients are as follows:

  • Citizen: Bethlehem Sahlu
  • Citizen (Youth): Simone Mantel, Aldershot District High School
  • Community: Toronto Bruce Trail Club
  • Education (Group or School): Trailhead – Bronte Creek Project
  • Education (Individual): Nick Bertrand and Kerry Sagar, Halton District School Board
  • Media / Blogger: Tourism Burlington
  • Parks Volunteer: Kirsten Phillip, Mountsberg Raptor Centre and Chuck Sweet, Kelso / Glen Eden
  • Stewardship: Andrew and Marites Lee, Milton and Field and Stream Rescue Team
  • Ralph Sherwood Honour Roll: Keith Bird, Oakville

“Thank you to our Conservation Halton Award winners and nominees for the positive impact you have had on the environmental health of our watershed. The Conservation Halton Awards are an opportunity to celebrate some of the great work being done by people and organizations,” said Conservation Halton Chair John Vice. “We are very fortunate to live in a community full of dedicated people who contribute their precious time and resources to help.”

More details about the Conservation Halton award winners and their accomplishments can be found below.

More than 150 guests and dignitaries attended the awards ceremony. In addition to the award recipients, Watershed Stewards in the Halton Watershed Stewardship Program were recognized, as well as local schools and childcare centres that participated in the Stream of Dreams education program.

A graduation ceremony was held for the 22 people who participated in the New Canadian Conservation Course. The course is for New Canadians looking to learn more about the environmental sector and consisted of a series of workshops on topics such as stormwater management, ecology, forestry, planning, and recreation management. The course participants came from 18 different countries.

2015 Conservation Halton Awards Recipients

Bethlehem Sahlu – Citizen

Bethlehem Sahlu has led three local food initiatives in Oakville. She is the coordinator of two community gardens, Share Land Share Life Community Garden (which is on privately owned land, Owner Mr. Armin Gottschling) and Clear View Community Garden. She also led a Green Your Mind Green Your Plate Presentation Series.

Share Land Share Life Community Garden and Clear View Community Garden were started as joint initiatives between Conservation Halton and FutureWatch EDEP as part of the Natural Connections Program aimed at connecting new and diverse communities in Halton to their natural surroundings, promoting food sustainability, healthy eating and Community engagement. (ODEC) Oakville’s Diverse Environmental Club Program is also a partner on Clear View.

Green Your Mind Green Your Plate is an interactive presentation with the objective to give people who are new in the area an overview of the local food market, to emphasize the importance of eating healthy and locally, and introduce them to the basic concepts of food sustainability. Bethlehem enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge about food sustainability and she believes Environmental Education is the key to success in all the community initiative she has been involved in. Bethlehem has inspired people that change is possible and it starts from the community we live in!

Simone Mantel of Aldershot High School in Burlington – Citizen (Youth)

Simone has been a true Environmental Champion for Aldershot School and the City of Burlington. She has been actively involved in her four years as a high school student, serving as President of the Aldershot School Environment Club and is a Graduate of the ECO Studies Program. Simone organized a community environmental film screening to raise funds for a school habitat restoration project. She also participated and planned invasive species removals at Aldershot School and Royal Botanical Gardens, and also organized school clean-up events for Earth Day.

Simone is involved in the community as well. She is an active member of Burlington Green, and worked to save trumpeter swan habitat at LaSalle Park Marina. She is a Burlington Transit Youth Ambassador for Aldershot School and organized several transportation-related campaigns. She also facilitated the ECO Rangers Environmental Leadership Program at RBG (grade 6 and 7 students).

Due to Simone’s dedication and commitment to the environment, Aldershot school and community, as well as the City of Burlington, have seen significant improvements in the awareness of environmental issues and improvement and protection of natural areas.

Toronto Bruce Trail Club – Community

Members of the Toronto Bruce Trail Club undertook the cleanup of downed trees and branches following the ice storm in December 2013 to reopen the Bruce Trail for hikers. Their clean-up efforts on the Main Bruce Trail in Halton Region involved more than 150 volunteers, who contributed over 600 hours and the cleanup was so extensive it took two years to fully complete.

The Toronto Bruce Trail Club encompasses the northern section of the Bruce Trail in Conservation Halton’s Watershed, this includes Crawford Lake, Hilton Falls, Kelso and Rattlesnake Point Conservation Areas.

Toronto Bruce Trail Club work parties cleared approximately 70% of the Main Trail from January to June 2014. The Bruce Trail and Conservation Halton has been extremely fortunate to have so many dedicated and interested volunteers show up so many times to get cold and dirty, and work very hard to clean up and maintain the trail for others to enjoy.

Trailhead – Bronte Creek Project – Education (Group or School)

Trailhead is a one semester environmental leadership program for 20 grade 10 students. The Trailhead class is made up of students selected from all Halton public and Catholic schools who have applied to be part of this unique and often transformative program.

Students spend every day at Sidrabene, which is located in a rural area, for the five-month high school semester. These facilities allow BCP students to have a mix of outdoor activities and indoor classroom lessons. Trailhead students teach grade 4 elementary students a one-day program called Novice Earthkeepers, where they practice and teach environmental stewardship. For the past three years, Trailhead students have participated at the Halton Forest Festival for Conservation Halton teaching grade 6 and 7 students about the importance of our local forests and the plants and animals that live within them.

Trailhead students explore current environmental issues and human impact, and discover their own relationship with nature. Hands-on learning is at the core of the program, allowing students to experience the curriculum while also learning about different career paths. The semester also involves an Adventure Trip canoeing in Algonquin Park. The program truly is a one of a kind experience for students, led by passionate and knowledgeable staff.

Nick Bertrand and Kerry Sagar from HDSB – Education (Individual)

Kerry Sagar is an Instructional Program Leader with the School Programs Department at Halton District School Board. She has been involved in Environmental and Sustainability initiatives throughout her career with a special emphasis on Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion, and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives.

Kerry has been instrumental in developing invaluable resources, as well as developing and presenting countless professional learning experiences to elementary and secondary HDSB teachers, administrators, and superintendents. Her longstanding work with environmental leadership teams at the board level has included the development of inquiry-based learning projects which are directly connected to care and protection of the environment, and include a deeper understanding of the underlying social and equity issues.

Nick Bertrand is also an Instructional Program Leader with the School Programs Department at the Halton District School Board. After a teaching career at White Oaks Secondary School, He joined the School Programs Department three years ago.

Nick has had phenomenal success in working directly to support the Ontario EcoSchools program with secondary schools. Nick Co-chairs the system level Eco Team, HELP (Halton Eco Leadership Partners), and the multiple community partner Outdoor Experiential Education Advisory Team. One of his major accomplishments has been the successful implementation of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education at both the elementary and secondary level; his connections with local First Nations and other community partners has enabled him to provide powerful support to schools in integrating First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education, Environmental Education, and Outdoor Experiential Education.

Tourism Burlington – Media / Blogger

Tourism Burlington consistently supports Conservation Halton’s recreational, educational, and environmental initiatives on their online account. They furiously share tweets about events at Halton Parks, like Maple Town or Endangered Species Weekend. By doing so, Tourism Burlington captivates the online community in regard to outdoor education and our environmental efforts. Not only does Tourism Burlington engage with Conservation Halton, but they also collaborate with other groups to promote and educate others about nature in Burlington. With over 8,000 followers on Twitter, Tourism Burlington is an industry leader in Tourism for online media.

Tourism Burlington tweets and retweets Conservation Halton’s content whether it is a blog about a baby barn owl, or a Facebook link about Endangered Species Weekend at Mountsberg.

Kirsten Phillip, Mountsberg Raptor Centre – Parks Volunteer

Kirsten volunteers at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre every Friday. She is always pleasant and excited to be at Mountsberg and is a joy for the staff to work with. She happily does whatever task is asked of her and has become a master at cleaning the flight cages. Staff don’t quite know how she does it, but Kirsten gets the Turkey Vulture flight cleaner than anyone – even the staff.

When asked to do a spring cleaning on a Wildlife Walkway pen, she remarked at the end of the day that it was her most fun day yet of volunteering! Kirsten has gone above and beyond the duties of a regular volunteer.

On her own time and with her own resources, she developed two matching card games to be used by visitors at the park and these games will be incorporated into the summer Raptor Camp activities this year. She has also started to join Mountsberg staff on offsite presentations and is a great representative of Conservation Halton both offsite and at the park. All of the Raptor Centre staff looks forward to Fridays, when they get to share their day with Kirsten.

Chuck Sweet – Parks Volunteer

During the winter months Chuck is a volunteer patroller at Glen Eden and during the summer months Chuck is a volunteer trail ambassador at Kelso.

Chuck performs at least 140 hours of volunteering per winter helping injured skiers and snowboarders. He is an inspiration to many of our volunteer patrollers through his attendance, commitment, and dedication.

Chuck is an exceptional communicator as a trail ambassador in regards to safety and offering direction. Chuck was seriously injured while on duty as a ski patroller during the 2013-14 season. He returned this season and fulfilled his responsibilities well beyond our expectations. His peers nominated Chuck as Patroller of the year at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Andrew and Marites Lee – Stewardship

Andrew and Marites were two stand-out participants of Conservation Halton’s 2014 Healthy Neighbourshed homeowner workshop program. At each week’s session, they were eager to learn and were inspired and motivated to implement a low impact landscaping project on their property.

Not only did they add to the community of the workshop series by asking questions and discussing topics with fellow participants, they took the projects they learned about home. Andrew and Marites completely revamped their backyard to incorporate low impact development principles. These include: a permeable walkway, native plants and a rain barrel.

Their efforts and enthusiasm are not only helping divert our watershed’s urban run-off, they are acting as environmental stewards to their children and their community by showing what can be done on a homeowner’s property can be both beautiful and environmentally friendly. Andrew and Marites have also demonstrated that even if you live in a suburban subdivision, you still can have a positive impact on your local environment.

Field and Stream Rescue Team – Stewardship

The Field and Stream Rescue Team is a not for profit group that works in Hamilton and Halton. They are 100 per cent volunteer based with a board of eight members and a project planning team of about the same. Their mission is to “Revitalize urban areas by restoring and rehabilitating watercourses, forests and natural areas through community education and hands on activities.”

They accomplish their mission by leading 15 to 20 volunteer workdays per year. Workdays include a variety of projects types such as invasive plant management, garbage cleanups and tree, shrub and wildflower plantings.

A niche that they have filled in Conservation Halton’s area is to clean up the nearly impossible. They rig up a system of pullies and cart garbage out of deep forested ravines that has likely been there for fifty plus years. One of their greatest achievements of late was a two day cleanup of an old dumping site in Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Tires, fridge, freezer and more were hauled out of the Bronte Creek floodplain and up a 150 foot ravine.

Keith Bird – Ralph Sherwood Honour Roll Award

Keith Bird recently served as Vice Chair of Conservation Halton and was a member of the Conservation Halton Foundation Board from 2011 to 2015. Keith served 37 years on the Conservation Halton Board, serving since 1974, except for two years when he was on the Conservation Halton Foundation Board.

During Keith’s time, the Foundation completed the Mountsberg Shrike Project breeding facility, the Deer Clan longhouse which was constructed at Crawford Lake Conservation Area, and the Foundation provided ongoing support for the Halton Children’s Water Festival and the Halton Forest Festival.

During Keith’s yeas on the Conservation Halton board there were a number of improvements at the conservation areas highlighted by the opening of the Crawford Lake Iroquoian Village and the building of the Kelly New Pavilion at Mountsberg. In addition there have been upgrades at Glen Eden to the chairlifts and snowmaking and a new pedestrian bridge built over the railway tracks to accommodate the growing demand. Another park improvement during Keith’s time was the opening of the Brock Harris Lookout at Mount Nemo.

Halton Watershed Stewardship (HWSP) Program Award Recipients

The Halton Watershed Stewardship Program award recipients are members of a group of more than 310 landowners voluntarily protecting over 12,800 acres of land, which includes over 7,800 acres of natural land, and over 160 kilometres of stream. It is important to remember that by simply enjoying these natural heritage features as they are, and conserving them for future generations, Watershed Stewards are making a significant contribution to the health of the environment, which leads to a healthy society.

Each year Watershed Stewardship Technicians assist landowners who are looking for advice and recommendations regarding activities they can undertake to restore woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and streams. The following landowners were recognized at this year’s award as Watershed Stewards:

  • Alba DiCenso and Brian Hutchison in the Bronte Creek Watershed
  • The City of Hamilton for Courtcliffe Park in the Bronte Creek Watershed
  • Wayne Terryberry, who is the first recipient of the new Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System dedicated Stewardship award

Stream of Dreams 2015

The mission of the Stream of Dreams Program is to educate communities about their watersheds, rivers and streams, while dazzling them with the charm of community art. Since its launch in 2006, Conservation Halton staff has delivered the program to 32,422 participants at 83 schools, as well as many community events, installing these magnificent murals across the watershed.

The teachers and parent volunteers at the participating Stream of Dreams schools put countless hours of work into each project to prepare their fish to be painted by the children and then install their murals on a fence at the school. Conservation Halton staff deliver the program with the message of protecting the fish and other wildlife who live in our community streams. The following schools participated over the past year:

  • Balaclava, Freelton
  • Bruce T. Lindley, Burlington
  • Glenburnie, Oakville
  • Hawthorne Village, Milton
  • Our Lady of Fatima, Milton
  • Palermo, Oakville
  • Pilgrim Wood, Oakville
  • Pine Grove, Oakville
  • P.L. Robertson, Milton
  • St. Mildred’s Lightbourn, Oakville