Ontario Nature 2016 Conservation Awards recipients group photo, Credit: Noah Cole

Ontario Nature held our 86th Annual Gathering, All Creatures Great & Small, June 2 – 4 at Kempenfelt Conference Centre along Lake Simcoe. Thank you very much for joining us for a weekend to celebrate another year of protecting wild species and wild spaces in Ontario.

Highlights of the weekend included inspiring speakers.

Dr. Martyn Obbard delivered the Saturday night keynote presentation. Dr. Obbard was a research scientist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and is an adjunct professor in the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program at Trent University. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario, followed by his M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Guelph. Dr. Obbard’s research focuses on population dynamics, habitat use, movement patterns and the effects of climate change on polar bears in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of Ontario. He is one of the Canadian members of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group and is a Chair of the Canadian Federal/Provincial/ Territorial Polar Bear Technical Committee. Dr. Obbard became interested in the North in 1967 when he had the opportunity to work as a summer assistant studying Canada Geese and Snow Geese, 45km south of the village of Arviat (previously Eskimo Point) in Nunavut, formerly the Northwest Territories.

Julee Boan delivered a keynote presentation before the workshops begin on Saturday June 3rd. Julee leads Ontario Nature’s Boreal Program and will be delivering a presentation before workshops begin on Saturday. She works collaboratively with First Nations, industry and local conservation groups to seek environmentally responsible approaches to economic development in northern Ontario. She completed a Ph.D. in forest sciences with research focused on mitigating timber harvesting impacts on woodland caribou. For the past nine years, Julee has also served as a board member of Environment North. She sat on Thunder Bay’s Climate Change Adaptation Working Group, and co-chaired the Forest and Freshwater Food committee for the Thunder Bay Food Strategy. When she isn’t pounding the pavement advocating for environmental sustainability, she putters at her hobby farm and shares her love of the outdoors in northern Ontario with her son Simon Sweetwater.

Highlights also included expert-led nature workshops on the significance of vernal ponds, invasive species, freshwater mussel identification, gardening with mosses, natural restoration projects in Barrie and Ontario nature’s Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas.

We explored local natural areas in search of turtles, salamanders and snakes to report to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (ORAA) through our new ORAA App, as well as enjoying guided field trips to some incredible natural areas including the Minesing Wetland, Wasaga Beach, Carden Alvar, Wye Marsh and the Bruce Trail.

Ontario Nature also recognized the important achievements of conservation heroes at the Conservation Awards ceremony.

It was the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow nature lovers and have a weekend of fun in the outdoors.

Photo gallery

Ontario Nature's 86th Annual Gathering

We are grateful for the following event sponsors: