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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

ERCA gets a new chairperson, hands out Conservation Awards

submitted to EFP

by Julianna Bonnett 

The Essex Regional Conservation Authority’s (ERCA) Annual General Meeting was hosted at the Essex Civic and Education Centre last Thursday. During the meeting, a new Chairperson was elected for its Board of Directors, and a multitude of awards were given out for environmentalist of all ages.


Windsor City Councillor, Kieran McKenzie, has been on ERCA’s Board of Directors since he was elected to represent Ward 9 in early 2019. On Thursday, McKenzie was elected as the new Chairperson for ERCA and looks forward to working towards the new 2020 goals for ERCA.

“Thanks to all of you for your confidence in electing me the new Chair of ERCA,” McKenzie said to a crowd of around 100 people during the Annual General Meeting. “I look forward to serving this Board and doing the work for the community [as] a whole. I know there is a lot of environmental work we can do for Windsor.”

  McKenzie continued on to say he knows there are a lot of decisions that need to be made that could potentially affect children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as they strive to create a future of environmental sustainability in the region.

  During the meeting, 10 organizations and individuals were also honoured with the Essex Regional Conservation Awards for their efforts in making the Windsor-Essex Region a place for life.

“One of the biggest highlights of the night is to recognize all of the Conservation Award winners,” Danielle Breault Stuebing said, who is the Director of Communications and Outreach at ERCA.

  Breault Stuebing added ERCA has been hosting the annual award ceremony since 1992. Community members are invited to nominate who they think has had an environmental impact on Windsor and Essex County leading up to the awards night.

  “I think this is one of the best parts of the general meeting because it’s always incredible for people in the community to see who really is doing their best to serve and help Windsor grow into something even better,” Breault Stuebing said.


Conservation Award winners include:

Abby Meloche – The Youth Award went to this Tecumseh Vista Student. She is a member of the Ecoteam and the Minister of Environment. She has initiated a school-wide battery drive, community E-waste event, and litter cleanup. She helps maintain the school’s community garden, and has supported a Community Fridge to aid hungry students, while reducing waste.  

Paquette Farms of Malden Ltd. – The Conservation Farm Award went to this local farm for use of red clover cover crops, minimum till and no-till cropping; precision soil sampling; variable rate fertilizer application; water and sediment control structures and rock chutes to reduce soil erosion; planting windbreaks, and maintaining buffer strips along watercourses.

Dr. John C. Carter – The John R. Park Homestead Award went to this widely published Ontario museum expert, author, and historian. He was the Homestead’s first Curator, and he has written many scholarly articles and maintained a keen interest in the Park family and its involvement in Great Lakes maritime commerce. His newest book, “The Perils and Pitfalls of the Steamer Ploughboy: A Story of Its Construction to Destruction,” details the intriguing history of one of the Park Brothers’ merchant ships.

Tim Shortridge – The Volunteer Award was presented to an individual who has provided significant contributions in community tree planting, citizen science, and monitoring tree health.  He is a member of the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club and has adopted an amphibian route within the Marsh Monitoring Program.

David D’Hondt – The Education Award went to this individual who has contributed 16-years of environmental education to students at St. Peter Elementary School. His duties have included leading the Ecoteam, initiating innovative recycling programs, composting, and undertaking cleanups and wildlife data collection in the school and its surrounding community.  As well, Mr. D’Hondt is the lead for the Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board’s environmental education programs on Fighting Island.

Anderdon Public School – The Education Award went to this Amherstburg elementary school for educating and engaging students in litter-less lunches, plastic water bottle reduction, and schoolyard greening; and achieving platinum EcoSchool status. As well, the Eco-team has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in engaging municipal Councils and the Greater Essex County District School Board in banning single use plastics. 

Ric Coronado – The Environmental Achievement award went to an individual who has dedicated over three decades to environmental advocacy. Ric established the environment committee at Local 444, and went on to push for the contract language for joint workplace environment committees that became the model for all Canadian ‘big three’ manufacturing facilities. He founded the Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, advocated tirelessly for the Detroit River, and has inspired generations of environmental advocates. This award was presented posthumously.

City of Windsor –The Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement went to the City of Windsor for its significant work in climate adaptation and mitigation, leadership in adopting a Climate Emergency declaration, the completion of the Sewer Master Plan to reduce flooding risks, and the significant engineering studies to protect the Riverside area from flooding. The City has also made tree canopy one of its top priorities, and committed $2.5 million to protected Pêche Island from erosion while undertaking the largest habitat restoration program on the Canadian side of the Detroit River to date.  

Ray Renaud – The Special Recognition for Environmental Leadership Award was presented to an individual for his tenure as the ERCA Chairperson, and his longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability. Accomplishments included his advocacy to create Petite Cote as a publicly accessible Conservation Area in LaSalle, and his leadership in supporting the development of the Clean Water ~ Green Spaces initiative.

Danielle Breault Stuebing – The Dennis Chase Staff Award was presented to this ERCA staff member for being a dedicated ambassador of the Place For Life, and leading ERCA’s Community Outreach Team in executing countless events, and reaching thousands of citizens of all ages on many important environmental and educational topics. Recognized for 20-years of service, this award honours kindness, spirit, and appreciation for others.

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