Conservation Awards

Villanova among the winners at ERCA’s Conservation Awards


Eight organizations and/or individuals have been recognized by the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) as winners of Conservation Awards.

The award presentation followed ERCA’s annual general meeting, held last Thursday night in Essex.

“It’s always inspiring to learn more about those who have made tangible contributions to our regional environment,” said new ERCA chair Irek Kusmierczyk. “By moving forward, together, with committed organizations and individuals like those we honour tonight, we will ensure that our region remains the Place for Life.”

Among the winners of Conservation Awards were St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic High School. The school received the Education Award and was honoured for more than two decades of educating students about the environment, and inspiring them to action through greening, cleanups, invasive species removals, and Monarch protection. Villanova was also recognized this past year as a gold school under the Ontario Eco-Schools program.

“The ongoing efforts of teacher Andy Paling is the driving force behind the school’s success,” said Danielle Stuebing, ERCA’s director of communications and outreach services.

Paling stated that “it’s easy to do what we do at our campus,” noting that Villanova sits on 11 acres on County Road 8. He also said “thousands of students” have been involved in environmental efforts over the years and added that the school has developed “amazing partnerships.”

ERCA vice chair Tonia Jobin (left) and chair Irek Kusmierczyk (right) present St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School with the Education Award during last Thursday night’s Essex Region Conservation Authority’s Conservation Awards.

It is “incredibly rewarding” to see students become eager to get excited about gathering seeds, working in the greenhouse or doing some of the many other environmental initiatives Villanova undertakes.

“Kids are willing and yearning to do these things,” he said. “They just need the opportunities.”

Ceara Copat captured the Youth Award for her dedication to natural and cultural heritage interpretation and action, including tree planting, invasive species removal, and engagement. Maurice Chauvin won the Conservation Farm Award for adopting a variety of conservation and best management practices, over six generations of farming, to protect their greatest resource – the soil.

The Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment Association earned the John R. Park Homestead Award for maintaining and promoting the historic and cultural significant of the Regiment in the community, and extra efforts this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1.

In an emotional moment, Karen Batke was posthumously awarded the  Volunteer Award for more than 35 years of volunteering to protect and restore Cedar, Mill and Wigle Creeks through tree planting, cleanups, and invasive species removal.

Winners of the Conservation Awards gather for a group photo following ERCA’s annual general meeting Jan. 24 at the Essex Civic Centre.

The group Just Fishin’ Friends captured Volunteer Organization Award for their dedication in providing learn to fish opportunities to residents across the region, to help them learn more about native fish species and the Great Lakes. Tepperman’s earned the Environmental Achievement award for its “Live for Tomorrow” sustainability plan and significant achievements in waste reduction, energy consumption, innovative recycling solutions, and a shared environmental ethic with staff, suppliers and partners.

Laura Monforton won the Dennis Chase Staff Award for her dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion to colleagues, customers and partners through a variety of roles at ERCA, including tree planting and restoration, events and outreach, and protecting sources of drinking water as the region’s risk management official/inspector.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments of the past year, including forward momentum towards a regional Climate Change Strategy, restoring 143 acres of habitat, connecting nearly 10,000 kids to nature through outdoor education, releasing its five-year Watershed Report Card, and welcoming over 75,000 visitors to conservation areas and trails.

A full copy of ERCA’s Annual Report and corresponding video can be found at



ERCA holds AGM, honors Conservation Award winners



The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) held its annual general meeting (AGM) last Thursday night with a number of people from the region honoured during the evening as well.

Eight organizations and individuals were honoured with Essex Region Conservation Awards for their efforts in making the Windsor/Essex/Pelee Island region the “Place for Life.”

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) honoured its Conservation Award winners Jan. 18 in Essex. (Special to the RTT)

“It’s always inspiring to learn more about those who have made tangible contributions to our regional environment,” said ERCA chair Rick Fryer, who is also an Amherstburg town councillor.  “There are so many actions being taken to sustain our region as the Place for Life, and it is a privilege to celebrate them.”

Among the winners were Jerome Deslippe, who posthumously received the Conservation Farm Award for the use of conservation farming practices and a lifetime of dedication to agriculture in the community.

“He was very passionate about being a steward of the land,” said daughter Rochelle, who accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

Rochelle said her father was “very, very active in the community” with his biography indicating that he was past president of the Essex Soil & Crop Improvement Association and was also a director with that organization for over 30 years. He was described as “a proud supporter of his community” through many agricultural projects such as the Essex County Plowing Match, the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum and the Ontario Plowman’s Association.

Jerome was also described as being “instrumental” in the establishment of the Essex County Demonstration Farm at Holiday Beach in 1996 and was an early adopter of conservation tillage practices on his own farm and member of the Essex Conservation Club.

Jerome Deslippe was inducted into the Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1997.

Rochelle Deslippe (centre) accepts the Conservation Farm Award on behalf of her late father Jerome. Making the presentation were ERCA chair Rick Fryer (left) and vice chair Irek Kusmierczyk. (Special to the RTT)

Other winners included:

  • the Iler Family – John R. Park Homestead Award for her preservation of local agricultural history in our community.
  • Peter Berry – Education Award for educating and engaging the community to improve the health of the Detroit River and the lands that surround it.
  • Darlene Burgess – Volunteer Award for protecting, raising and releasing Monarch butterflies.  As a volunteer citizen scientist, she tracks and reports on the monarch migration.
  • Dr. Doug Haffner – Environmental Achievement Award for decades of mentoring students, teaching the next generation of scientists, and conducting significant research which continues to support the management of Canada’s Great Lakes.
  • Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) – Volunteer Organization Award to celebrate a century of service, including tree plantings, stream cleanups, global sanitation and water initiatives, support of ERCA’s outreach program and creating the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub.
  • Town of Tecumseh – Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement recognizes the Town’s leadership in protecting Fairplay Woods, tree planting efforts, creating Lakewood Park, innovative solar use and leadership in trail development.
  • Vivian Kennedy – Dennis Chase Staff Award for two decades of dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion to colleagues, customers and partners.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments of the past year, including the creation of the Place for Life policies, opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway and the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub, restoring over 92 acres of habitat and engaging over 12,000 students in outdoor education, and strengthening organizational resilience.

Fryer also highlighted the planting of “many trees” this year, with the annual report showing that number to be 92,500 trees.

“I continue to say that this is the ‘Place for Life’,” Fryer stated.

Among the other 2017 accomplishments that ERCA touted were aiding municipalities in responding to the significant rainfall event that occurred in late August, initiating steps to develop a regional climate change strategy, the opening of the new cottage at Holiday Beach, initiating a feasibility study with Ducks Unlimited to design and operate a new 70-acre controlled wetland adjacent to the Canard River and assisting five member municipalities with their Official Plan updates.

Amherstburg councillor elected as new ERCA chair



By Ron Giofu


The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) elected a new chair of the board of directors and it is a familiar face to Amherstburg residents.

Councillor Rick Fryer was elected as the chair by his board colleagues during Thursday night’s annual general meeting at the Essex Civic Centre. He ran against Tecumseh councillor Rita Ossington for the position.

“This morning when I woke up, I didn’t think I’d be the chair,” Fryer said after the meeting. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m extremely delighted to be the chair.”

The chair of the ERCA board of directors serves a two-year term. Fryer takes over from Windsor city councillor Ed Sleiman. The chair and vice-chair position alternate between an Essex County representative and a Windsor representative with Windsor city councillor Irek Kusmierczyk being elected vice chair Thursday night.

“We plan on being the new faces of ERCA,” said Fryer.

Flooding and active transportation were two issues Fryer identified as priorities for his term as ERCA chair. He said he wants to work with municipalities to gain funding from upper tiers of government to assist in the prevention of flooding.

Rick Fryer (right), the new chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA),  presented the outgoing chair Ed Sleiman a new leather jacket for the latter’s time in the position. The presentation was made as part of ERCA’s annual  general meeting last Thursday night.

Rick Fryer (right), the new chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA),
presented the outgoing chair Ed Sleiman a new leather jacket for the latter’s time in the position. The presentation was made as part of ERCA’s annual
general meeting last Thursday night.

Active transportation such as trails is another goal with Fryer believing that if kids get off the couch, it will lead to a better and brighter future.

“You get to the younger generation and they want to see pathways, they want to see avenues for them to ride their bikes to school,” he said. “I think that healthy, active living – once you institute that in a young age – I think they’ll have that for life.”

Fryer noted his involvement with ERCA during his time as an Amherstburg councillor. He said healthy environments and healthy citizens leads to a healthy economy.

“This is probably my most important position as a councillor, representing ERCA every chance I get,” he added.

Also as part of the ERCA annual general meeting were the presentation of the Conservation Awards. Ten awards were handed out as part of this year’s AGM.

Irene Moore Davis was awarded the John R. Park Homestead Award for her preservation of black history in our community while J. Brush Farms Ltd. received the Conservation Farm Award for the use of conservation farming practices to protect soil health and water quality.

The Education Award for educating agricultural and non-agricultural landowners alike about sustainable farming practices was awarded to Henry Denotter.

Tom Henderson was given a Volunteer Award for more than 25 years of volunteering to improve the Little River and Detroit River watersheds while Robert Pula and Andrew Pula also received a Volunteer Award for their continued efforts to connect people to nature and inspiring healthy and active living in the Place for Life.

Union Gas Ltd. were the recipients of the Volunteer Organization Award for more than two decades of staff volunteerism in supporting environmental initiatives in the Essex Region and beyond.

Carrie Lee earned the Active in the Place for Life Achievement Award. That award is a newly introduced recognition that celebrates an individual who has demonstrated dedication and participation in Essex Region Conservation’s roster of active events.

The Essex Region Conservation awarded ten individuals and groups as part of their annual Conservation Awards last Thursday night.

The Essex Region Conservation awarded ten individuals and groups as part of their annual Conservation Awards last Thursday night.

Caldwell First Nation were the recipients of the Environmental Achievement Award for their ongoing protection of the Hillman Marsh, restoration of Sturgeon Creek, and education of students and others about our responsibility to protect water and the environment.

The Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement was given to the town of Essex. The award recognizes that town’s “leadership in trail development, low impact design, and efforts to reduce flooding and protect water sources.”

Candice Kondratowicz received the Dennis Chase Staff Award for her dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion. Kondratowicz is the administrative associate for corporate services with ERCA.

Staff service awards were also handed out with agricultural technician Michael Dick and application support technician Bryan Schmidt being recognized for ten years of service. Finance and human resources administrator Beth Johnston was honoured for 15 years of service as was director of conservation services Kevin Money.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments from 2016, including launching a new strategic plan and visual identity, construction of the Cypher Systems Group Greenway, implementation of 88 water quality improvement projects, and the review of over 980 permit applications.

Nominees sought for conservation awards


Special to the RTT
Do you know of an organization or individual who has made a significant environmental contribution to the Essex Region?

If so, then Essex Region Conservation wants to hear from you.

“Recognition of the importance of environmental sustainability continues to grow at all levels,” explains Danielle Breault Stuebing, ERCA’s Director of Communications and Outreach Services.  “Essex Region Conservation wants to recognize and celebrate those who are making contributions at the local level.”  ERCA is calling for nominations for its 2016 Conservation Awards.  These awards honour and recognize those in the community who have made outstanding contributions towards improving our natural environment, sustaining and enriching the Essex Region as the Place for Life.
“We hope others will be inspired by the efforts being made,” Breault Stuebing adds.   The annual awards will be presented to individuals and organizations in four categories:

The Youth Award recognizes a youth leader who has undertaken habitat or conservation projects or activities and is a student in the elementary or secondary schools of our region.

The Education Award for excellence in conservation education programs or projects in schools, organizations, companies, youth groups, etc.

The Volunteer Award for outstanding effort in volunteering time and services for conservation programs and projects;

The Environmental Achievement Award for programs or projects which have enhanced the region’s environment in a significant way.  In addition to individuals and organizations, municipalities can also be nominated for environmental achievements.

Nominations can be submitted online at, or by clicking the About ERCA page and the ‘Conservation Awards’ tab, or nominators can simply write a one page summary of the individual or organizational accomplishments that merit the receipt of the award.  Please be sure to include the category, name, address and phone number of the nominee, in addition to your own name, address and telephone number.

Nominations close on Friday, December 16, 2016.

The awards, presented since 1992, will be announced at ERCA’s Annual General Meeting in January 2017.

Conservation Award winners honoured by ERCA


The Essex Region Conservation Authority recognized organizations and individuals that have made significant contributions to the region’s sustainability with 2015 Conservation Awards last Thursday night.

“It is inspiring to learn more about the many in the Windsor-Essex region who work vigilantly at creating a healthier environment,” said ERCA chair Ed Sleiman.

Award winners included Conservation Farmers Don and Neal Huber of Harrow for their dedication to environmentally sustainable farm practices. Their property is located next to a provincially significant wetland and they are credited with participating in preserving that natural feature. They have also been described as “pioneers” in the use of cover crops for soil conservation.

General Amherst High School’s eco-team won the Education Award for an organization. From left: ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Emily Sinasac, teacher Eric Campbell, ERCA vice chair Len Janisse and Anna Simone.

General Amherst High School’s eco-team won the Education Award for an organization. From left: ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Emily Sinasac, teacher Eric Campbell, ERCA vice chair Len Janisse and Anna Simone.

The Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs received the John R. Park Homestead Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of human and natural history in the Essex Region. The group is known for its accurate and enthusiastic re-enactments of early settler life in the region.

Carlos Pena, President of the Leamington District Secondary School (LDSS) eco-team, received the Youth Conservation Award. Among his list of accomplishments that was highlighted at the meeting was a Twitter campaign directed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and environment minister Catherine McKenna to encourage them to set strong greenhouse gas emissions targets at the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris.

Conservation Awards for Education were presented to teacher Lisa Jeffery who has been a longstanding inspiration to the very active and engaged students at LDSS and a community advocate, and to the General Amherst Eco-Team for their work in engaging the student population.

General Amherst’s award, accepted by teacher Eric Campbell and students Anna Simone and Emily Sinasac, came as a result of the club spearheading such initiatives as a school-wide water and energy audit, a school-wide education program, the installation of a water filling station to eliminate the use of plastic bottles, and their participation in Earth Day tree plantings and rain garden maintenance events. The Amherst eco-team is also working towards earning a gold “Eco-School” designation.

Dr. Tony Braithwaite, a veterinarian who has volunteered significantly to protect endangered snake species in the region, and the Little River Enhancement Group, which this year celebrates 25 years of protecting and restoring the Little River watershed, were recognized for their volunteer contributions. Dr. Braithwaite assists researchers by implanting radio transmitters into endangered species of snakes and it is believed, according to ERCA, that Dr. Braithwaite has performed more transmitter transplant surgeries than any other surgeon in Canada. He has volunteered at Hillman Marsh, Ojibway Park, the Herb Gray Parkway, Point Pelee, Rondeau Provincial Park, co-founded Erie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and has provided veterinary services to Wings Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Amherstburg.

Mario Sonego received the Conservation Award for Environmental Achievement. ERCA’s director of community outreach services Danielle Breault pointed out that Sonego, recently retired from the City of Windsor following a career that spanned three decades, “consistently went above and beyond that which was required to ensure that the many legacy projects he led as the Chief Building Official and City of Windsor Engineer were undertaken with the highest regard for environmental sustainability.” Devonshire Mall was also recognized for Environmental Achievement for implementing a culture of conservation throughout the shopping complex, and undertaking education and outreach to inform and engage over seven million visitors per years of their environmental efforts.

The Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement was presented to the Municipality of Leamington. Breault noted Leamington has created trails, protected waterfront land, undertaken tree planting, partnered to create a rain garden and is committed to helping improve Lake Erie. A special Conservation Award was presented to the Rt. Honorable Herb Gray Parkway project, which is precedent setting in its project scope, complex issues that required consideration, and the creative solutions that were implemented to ensure that this massive project benefited the overall environmental sustainability of the region.

Bill Tate, ERCA’s superintendent of field operations, received the Dennis Chase Staff Award for “dedication and commitment, kindness to colleagues and pride in a job well done.”