Kawartha Lakes recognizes local environmental changemakers with annual awards

From a Coboconk resort that features native flora and eco-friendly cabins to a Fenelon Falls duo that installed recycling bins in a local park, the City of Kawartha Lakes is recognizing its environmental “heroes.”

The City of Kawartha Lakes environmental advisory committee (CKLEAC) recently presented the 2023 “Environmental Hero Awards” to local residents, businesses, and organizations for their environmental stewardship and commitment to improving their local communities.

The annual awards provide a chance for residents to nominate environmental changemakers in Kawartha Lakes and “bring attention to the amazing work they’re doing to help the environment in our community,” noted Kawartha Lakes in a media release.

This year there were three winners of the environmental business hero award, four winners of the environmental hero award, and three environmental student hero award recipients, listed below.

Environmental business heroes

Green Side Up Environmental, Omemee

Green Side Up Environmental is an ecological contracting firm specializing in landscape construction, natural resource management, and sustainable agriculture. Its services cater to a diverse clientele including government, private sector firms, and various organizations.

Green Side Up Environmental also provides a variety of services including forestry services, sustainable agriculture, biological services, ecological restoration and a native plant nursery.

“With a commitment to sustainability and innovation, Green Side Up Environmental continues to set industry standards through their dedication to ecological integrity,” Kawartha Lakes noted.

The Marina at Happy Days, Bobcaygeon

The Marina at Happy Days has been in operation since 1978 on Pigeon Lake, Bobcaygeon in the territory of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg. “This family-owned business exemplifies a dedicated commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability,” Kawartha Lakes noted.

The Marina at Happy Days “takes proactive steps, collaborates with partners, and engages the community to protect and enhance the environment. This effort greatly benefits the health of Pigeon Lake and the surrounding areas.

Inspire Beach Resort, Coboconk

Inspire Beach Resort “offers a peaceful escape where guests can unwind amidst untouched natural beauty.” The Inspire team envisioned a place where the harmony between comfort and nature could be preserved. Developing the resort took into consideration the integration of their structures into the landscape ensuring minimal disruption to the environment, the release noted. Large trees and native flora were preserved and serve as a backdrop for their eco-friendly cabins.

“Inspire Beach Resort’s commitment to sustainability stands as a testament to what can be achieved when passion for nature meets thoughtful hospitality.”

Environmental heroes

Sharon Britton and Linda Hibbert

Sharon Britton and Linda Hibbert have been dedicated volunteers at the Garnet Graham Beach in Fenelon Falls for the past three years, championing recycling efforts to keep the community cleaner and greener. Concerned about providing recycling options at Garnet Graham Beach Park, they took action by placing 90-gallon blue bins next to the regular waste bins.

“Sharon and Linda regularly visit the park multiple times each week to combat contamination of non-recyclable items ending up in recycling bins. To combat this, the duo diligently sort through the blue bins, removing any items that can’t be recycled and ensuring everything is disposed of correctly,” Kawartha Lakes said.

“Sharon and Linda are true environmental heroes, embodying the spirit of community service and environmental stewardship.”

Amanda Renee Samson

Amanda Renee Samson is the founder and organizer of a popular “Buy Nothing” Facebook group serving Fenelon Falls and surrounding areas. With more than 1,000 members, the group facilitates the giving away of clothing and household items that people no longer need, allowing others to request items they are looking for, all for free.

“By promoting a culture of giving and reuse, the group not only reduces landfill waste but also helps residents save money and participate in a circular economy.

“Amanda’s initiative not only fosters environmental sustainability but also strengthens community bonds by encouraging philanthropy and resource sharing.”

Randy Beacler

“Randy Beacler embodies the spirit of volunteerism and dedication to environmental stewardship through his longstanding commitment to the Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Reserve and beyond. For years, Randy has quietly and tirelessly contributed to the preservation and enhancement of this vital sanctuary in Norland,” Kawartha Lakes said.

His volunteer efforts involve monitoring and understanding local wildlife. He has tracked amphibians, birds, and forest vegetation, “providing invaluable data that informs conservation efforts.” Beyond data collection, Beacler ensures the safety and accessibility of the sanctuary’s trails by clearing debris in spring and maintaining winter access.

As a member of the Kawartha Field Naturalists, he participates in meetings and outings, “enriching discussions with his insights and anecdotes from years spent in the field.

“Randy’s dedication to conservation and environmental education is a testament to his character and values. His selfless contributions to the Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Reserve and the community have earned him the admiration and gratitude of all who share his passion for nature.”

John Kintare

John Kintare, a resident of Bobcaygeon, has been Kawartha Land Trust’s (KLT) executive director since 2019. During this time, KLT has experienced significant growth, expanding its efforts to safeguard natural and working lands across Kawartha Lakes for future generations, the release noted.

He has helped KLT safeguard more than 3,000 extra acres of land. Other key achievements have included purchasing the Christie Bentham Wetland in 2020 and the Hammer Family Nature Preserve in late 2023, which covers 1,400 acres. Several properties totaling 376 acres have been conserved within Kawartha Lakes.

Kintare has led several projects at KLT including working together with private landowners in the Partners in Conservation program to manage landscapes. His work has also focused on protecting working lands such as farms and woodlots, and making sure everyone in the community can easily enjoy natural spaces.

“Beyond his role at KLT, John is a co-founder of a consortium of regional land trusts operating within Williams Treaties First Nations territory, emphasizing meaningful engagement with Indigenous rights holders.”

Environmental student heroes

Frost campus window mitigation initiative

Up to one billion birds die in North America every year because of window collisions. Inspired by the conservation biology program at Fleming College’s Frost campus and motivated by an international effort to save native bird populations throughout North America, the Fleming bird conservation committee set forth to have the Lindsay, Frost campus at Fleming College be designated as Canada’s first bird-friendly college.

“The group has completed two phases of a multi-year collaborative research project to investigate the efficacy of feather-friendly products (decal patterns) on the deterrence of avian window collisions. The project had participation from 93 students, for a total of 443 human hours to get the mitigation decals installed and to complete baseline monitoring.”

“Frost campus has taken a leading role in the community for making positive action to mitigate threats to birds.”

Rebecca Wood for her Seed Library Project

Wood has been active in environmental projects and initiatives in Kawartha Lakes. She spearheaded the Seed Library Project from start to finish, which involved researching ethical methods for native seed collection, ways to ensure continued genetic variance and biodiversity, and seed processing methods. She also designed multiple seed library prototypes using repurposed materials, with plans to open them at various locations.

In addition to her work with the Seed Library Project, Rebecca has a strong background in beekeeping and pollinator education. “She joined the Kawartha Junior BeeKeepers at a young age, and has since represented Canada internationally in beekeeping forums. She founded “Bee-Friend Pollinators” to educate children about pollinators and distributed pollinator seed kits to local schools. She’s also involved in her high school’s Green Advocates Group, supporting various environmental causes like turtle conservation and community clean-up events.

“Rebecca’s activism spans a wide range of environmental efforts, showcasing her dedication to sustainability and community engagement.”

I.E. Weldon Green Advocates Team

The I.E. Weldon Secondary School Green Advocates Team includes a variety of students ranging from grades 9 to 12 who share a passion for environmental change.

The Green Advocates Team meets weekly to address various environmental issues and strategize on ways to make positive change. Throughout the 2023 to 2024 school year, they undertook several impactful projects, including:

Organizing a “change for change” fundraiser, collecting more than $600 to plant trees at I.E. Weldon through the canopy project.

Collaborating with SCAN! on a letter-writing campaign, leading to local government action on environmental policies.

Initiating a recycling program at school, including educational sessions on waste reduction.

“Through their various activities, the Green Advocates Team has discovered that collective action can drive significant change and foster community engagement.”

Kawartha Lakes asks residents to keep an eye out in their communities for environmental heroes. Nominations for 2024 will begin in the spring of 2025.

KLEAC recognizes individuals, businesses and students who have made outstanding contributions towards helping the environment.

For more information about the awards and nomination criteria, see the Environmental Hero Awards section at www.kawarthalakes.ca/environment.

Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, KawarthaNOW

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