Media Release


Ontario Nature Awards Conservation Heroes

The County of Wellington, along with nine local heroes, is recognized for leadership in the protection of nature

(Elgin, Ontario, June 11, 2012) – This weekend, Ontario Nature, a leading conservation organization, recognized the exceptional contributions of nine individuals and also the County of Wellington to natural habitat protection through the organization’s Conservation Awards.
Naturalists from across Ontario came together to celebrate Ontario Nature’s 81st Annual General Meeting and Gathering.  The idyllic setting on the Frontenac Arch, with its exceptional natural diversity, set the stage for the awards ceremony.  The deserving recipients are:

Ontario Nature Achievement Award – Dieter and Marlies Schoenefeld
Awarded to an Ontario Nature member(s) who has made an outstanding contribution to the activities of Ontario Nature.

As members and leaders of the Sudbury Field Naturalists for the past 30 years, Dieter and Marlies Schoenefeld have worked tirelessly to protect their natural surroundings. The couple are active citizen scientists and contributed to both editions of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario as well as many other nature-related surveys.

W.W.H. Gunn Conservation Award –Ken Reger
Awarded to individuals who demonstrate outstanding personal service and a strong commitment to nature conservation over a number of years with exceptional results.

Ken Reger has dedicated the past 20 years to reversing the decline in Ontario’s eastern bluebird populations by constructing and putting up almost 350 nesting boxes. His efforts have helped approximately 2,600 birds reach maturity. Reger’s work has won support from local citizens and farming communities as he travels some 300 kilometres every time he ventures out to check on his boxes.

Richards Education Award – Jenny Bull Awarded to an individual who has succeeded in helping people understand the natural world and become enthusiastic supporters of conservation and environmental protection.

Jenny Bull has fostered an awareness and appreciation of nature through the creation of teaching tools for elementary and high school students, developing techniques for plant identification, editing publications for the Toronto Field Naturalists and leading numerous field trips. She is a champion for ecological restoration on the Toronto islands and played a key role in developing the plant components of the biodiversity galleries at the ROM.

W.E. Saunders Natural History Award – Harry Lumsden Awarded to an individual who has achieved a significant goal related to an aspect of natural history or natural science research, raising public awareness of natural history, demonstrating local leadership, saving a natural area, or generating conservation funds or publications.

When naturalists think about trumpeter swans in Ontario, they think about Harry Lumsden. Trumpeter swans had disappeared from the province, until Lumsden made their return his mission and launched the Ontario Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program in 1982. Today, Ontario can boast four thriving populations of these magnificent birds.

J. R. Dymond Public Service Award – Sandy Levin
Awarded to an individual or group who shows distinguished public service that resulted in exceptional environmental achievement.

Sandy Levin is a champion for woodland protection in London, Ontario. In 2006, developers launched an appeal to allow them access to 800 hectares of protected woods. Fearing that the city might not successfully defend itself, Levin hired a planner and a lawyer at his own expense to argue on behalf of conservation. His strategy paid off as the developers’ appeal was turned down.

The Lee Symmes Municipal Award – The County of Wellington
Awarded to a town, city or municipality or region that exhibits community leadership and exceptional achievement in planning or implementing programs that protect and regenerate the natural environment within a community.

Wellington County initiated its Green Legacy Program in 2004. Since that time, 1.3 million trees of more than two dozen native species have been planted by thousands of volunteers, mostly students. The program is now regarded as the largest municipal tree planting program in North America.

The Margaret and Carl Nunn Memorial Camp Scholarship Award – Fraser and Owen Darling; Bence Esztegar
Awarded to individuals who are 10 to 14 years of age, and display promise and interest in natural history interpretation or education and have the potential to take an increased leadership role in club programs.

Fraser, Owen and Bence are inspiring young naturalists who have committed countless volunteer hours to conservation in their neighbourhoods. Fraser and Owen belong to the Niagara Falls Nature Club and have done field work with at-risk snakes, assisted with bird banding and are active contributors to their school’s Eco Club.

Bence belongs to the Lambton Wildlife’s Young Naturalists. He has cleaned up trails, volunteered in community gardens and is recognized by his club leaders as an excellent role model, always willing to lend a hand to any project.


For more information on the recipients, to arrange an interview, or for photos of the presentations, please contact:

John Hassell
Communications Coordinator, Ontario Nature
(416) 444-8419, ext. 269

Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters and 140 member groups across Ontario (charitable registration # 10737 8952 RR0001). For more information, visit

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