On June 14 we connected with some of our dedicated partners and neighbours at our annual ‘Friends of the Credit’ Conservation Awards. We celebrated those who are inspired by nature to do important environmental work across the watershed.
We kicked off the night at BraeBen Golf Club in Mississauga, were we unveiled our new awards program. After more than 30 years of awards history, we redesigned the program to recognize conservation efforts under eight categories: Youth Achievement, Outstanding Volunteer, Environmental Awareness, Landowner Stewardship, Corporate Leadership, Green Cities, Legacy Donor and Watershed Excellence.
This year, we received 26 nominations across seven categories. Each nominee demonstrated a passion for environmental work and was inspired by nature to take action that helps protect, connect and sustain the Credit River Watershed. Here’s a little more about our winners:
Youth Achievement Award – Aalia Khan (back row, furthest left)
Mississauga’s Aalia Khan is an active environmentalist working with our Conservation Youth Corps and Frontline Program. She taught her peers about the importance of stream restoration through workshops she organized at Rick Hansen Secondary School. She contributed over 150 volunteer hours towards environmental work in the watershed. Aalia is also a member of the Creditview Wetlands Stewarship Committee and an executive member of Ecosource’s Peel Environmental Youth Alliance.
Outstanding Volunteer Award – Suzanne Leblanc (back row, second from the left)
Mississauga resident Suzanne Leblanc is a leader dedicated to The Riverwood Conservancy’s (TRC) education program and helps with stewardship activities. She has contributed more than 1,150 volunteer hours at TRC in the last four years. Suzanne has taken action on the ground through the Garlic Mustard Task Force, removing hundreds of pounds of garlic mustard over the course of one season. She inspires a deep appreciation for nature and her support has increased TRC’s ability to educate the community.
Environmental Awareness Award – Gregg Reekie (back row, third from the left)
Orangeville resident Gregg Reekie introduced the Maple Syrup Program at Island Lake Conservation Area and engaged park visitors for 25 years. As a teacher with the Upper Grand District School Board’s Outdoor Education Centre, Gregg developed the program and introduced it to the whole community. He’s known as the resident ‘Sugar Master’ who continued to teach at the sugar shack for ten years after his retirement. Gregg inspired over 100,000 people to appreciate the wonder of nature through making maple syrup.
Corporate Leadership Award – HL Blachford (Staff representative: back row, third from the left)
HL Blachford made a committed to complete substantial ecological landscaping and forest management on their property. The Mississauga-based company embarked on a five-year plan to remove invasive species and damaged ash trees. They also planted native species to increase forest cover on the property. The project created additional habitat for migratory birds and enhanced trails on their property for staff to enjoy.
Green Cities Award – Certified Fusion Landscaping Professional Program (Staff representatives: back row, fifth and sixth from the left)
Landscape Ontario, Region of Peel and York Region were recognized for their Certified Fusion Landscaping Professional Program. In 2017, the partners launched the program to train the landscape industry on design, installation and maintenance of fusion landscape. The program incorporates the art and science of horticulture with the science of hydrology so property owners can design, install and maintain beautiful, water efficient landscapes.
Landowner Stewardship Award – Dave Choat (back row, furthest right) and Helen Choat (not pictured)
Caledon’s David and Helen Choat created and implemented an action plan to enhance natural features on their property. As new landowners of a 33-acre property, the Choats worked with CVC to complete several projects. They planted 13,000 seedlings, almost 250 trees and shrubs, and installed five habitat structures. In total they will restore approximately 25 acres of their property by the end of 2018. This environmental work is preserving and protecting nature.
The program has received overwhelming interest across Ontario. The partners’ overall goal is to expand across the province this year.
Legacy Donor Award – Roger Spriggs (not pictured)
Roger Spriggs is a property owner in the Town of Erin who donated 90 acres of forest and wetland. The land is part of the Alton-Hillsburgh Provincially Significant Wetland Complex. Spriggs’ donation is important because natural landscapes help reduce flooding and maintain high water quality. It also provides much needed habitat for wildlife, including trout habitat in Shaw’s Creek.
Additional award nominees included: Alnasir Bhanji, Elizabeth Bosman, City of Mississauga (Environmental Services, Transportation Works Department), David and Faith Clarkson, CRH Canada Group Inc., EcoSpark, Jordan Graham, Maggie Janik, Cathy Jazokas, Savia Souza-Marques, Niagara Escarpment Views, Ontario Streams, Renan Orquiza, Grant and Heather Peters, Daisy Radigan, Region of Peel, Fiona Reid, Wendy Morley and Sid Vander Veen (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs).
The Conservation Awards program began in 1986. Awards are given by our Board of Directors to honour those who demonstrate our core values of leadership, collaboration, innovation and integrity through environmental practices. Learn more.