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Conservation Awards

Ontario Nature celebrated the dedication of individuals, organizations and cities for their conservation efforts across Ontario. These conservation heroes fought to preserve Ontario’s natural beauty as they went above and beyond to protect wild species and wild spaces.

Ontario Nature's 2017 Conservation Award winners © Noah Cole, Ontario Nature

Recipients for 2017

Phill Holder, has spent 35 years working to bring Canadian birders together. Whether founding the Birders Journal, acting as a board member of Thickson’s Woods Land Trust, or putting on pancake breakfasts for birders, Holder has had an invaluable impact on nature conservation in Ontario. With the creation of the Matt Holder Educational Fund in 2014 in honour of his late son, Holder received the W.E. Saunders Natural History Award and continues to make an impact by providing opportunities for young naturalists.

Phill Holder © Noah Cole

Kim Saunders received the Richards Education Award for being an enthusiastic and dedicated leader for the Young Naturalists’ Group of Saugeen Nature since 2006. Often working single-handed to plan and lead nature expeditions, Kim has inspired and influenced countless young naturalists in the Grey and Bruce counties.

Kim Saunders © Noah Cole

Larry McDermott, a respected Elder from the Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nation, received the W.W.H. Gunn Conservation Award for playing an exceptional role in supporting Indigenous peoples and the lands on which they live. Elder McDermott has had an impact not only in Ontario, but throughout Canada and internationally, having taken on multiple positions and roles supporting conservation.

Larry McDermott (right) and his wife Nancy (left) © Noah Cole

Scott Dobson received the Carl Nunn Media and Conservation Award for his documentary, Fix and Release, on the perils of freshwater turtles in Ontario, has garnered strong online support and 12 award wins since its release last year. The success of Dobson’s documentary and his optimism and love of nature has helped educate the public and inspire conservation efforts for Ontario’s turtles.

Scott Dobson © Noah Cole

Mayor Steve Parish and the Town of Ajax received the Lee Symmes Municipal Award for having consistently shown to be advocates for nature. They were at the forefront of Ontario’s Greenbelt project and have remained consistent leaders and advocates for the initiative, implementing multiple programs to conserve and protect natural environments within and around the Town of Ajax.

Joanne Dies for Mayor Steve Parish and the Town of Ajax © Noah Cole

Kerry-Anne Charles, for the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and  students of Waabgon Gamig School received the J.R. Dymond Public Service Award for demonstrating dedicated efforts to protect the watersheds and health of First Nations Lands by playing significant roles in conservation studies and projects in the Lake Simcoe area.

Kerry-Anne Charles for Georgina Island First Nation and Waabgon Gamig School © Noah Cole

AquaHacking received the Ontario Nature Corporate Award for dedication to nature by influencing problem-solving methods in conservation. AquaHacking has provided funding and support for visible and practical solutions to pressing environmental issues, helping make the protection of Ontario’s lakes and rivers more feasible.

Kevin Thomason (right) receives award from Otto Peter (left) for AquaHacking © Noah Cole

Debbe Crandall, founding members of rare Charitable Research Reserve, received the Steve Hounsell Greenway Award. Their work ensures over 900 acres of highly sensitive lands remain protected and accessible to the public.

If you need more information or have any questions, please contact Mishelle MacDonald at 1-800-440-2366 ext. 271 or

Debbe Crandall © Noah Cole