On June 26, 2014 Niagara residents, community groups and school programs were awarded for their contributions to the environment.
The Niagara Region Environmental Awards are one of the longest-running Environmental Awards programs hosted by any municipal government in Ontario.
Press-ready photos of the 2014 Environment Award winners are available.
Lifetime Achievement Award
For Paul Ruzycki, it's not about the spotlight but rather about sharing with everyone the importance of protecting the environment and every individual's contribution. As an active member of Greenpeace, Paul has dedicated his life to raising awareness around algae blooms, climate warming and water quality.
Through his work, Paul Ruzycki engages young people by reinforcing the importance of becoming active and voicing concerns over environmental degradation to local, municipal and federal governments. His work reaches out to young individuals who have the power to make a meaningful contribution to the environment, such as the students at Dunnville Secondary School, who hosted Paul during an environmental contest. Paul Ruzycki's work not only has meaningful impacts for communities in the Niagara Region but it also extends worldwide.
Green Non-Profit Award
For the past three years, Julie Arsenault has been working with young students at Lakeview Public School, a Gold certified EcoSchool, to educate and empower them to become stewards of the environment. Through her work, Julie has been encouraging young students to make a positive impact on their environment both within and outside of their communities. As part of her ongoing environmental contributions, Julie has actively sought out programs and initiative students can take part in. Since 2011, students have participated in the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority's Canopies for Kids initiative, planting and maintaining over 20 shade trees throughout their school yard.
Furthermore, through Julie's commitment to both environmental education and stewardship, the students have participated in shoreline cleanup initiatives, waste-free lunch challenges, fund raising for water bottle filling stations, as well as enhancing their learning environment by building an outdoor classroom for students to actively learn about the importance of their environment.
Green Business Award
Niagara College Canada
In 2011, Niagara College Canada Sustainability Committee set a goal to improve and extend existing environmental, social and economic practices through transparent decision making processes. In the Fall of 2013, this goal was successfully met. Niagara College Canada established a Strategic Plan that would establish sustainable practices while raising awareness and engaging individuals to participate in the initiative. Since its inception in Spring 2011, the Sustainability Committee has focused on environmental protection, restoration, and conservation projects.
Through these projects, Niagara College Canada has also met Bronze Level achievements in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Ranking System from the Association of Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education. Niagara College Canada's continuous commitment to the environment has shed light on the importance of sustainability in higher education and sustainable campuses.
Green Family Award
James & Simone Deboer
For the past several years, the Deboer Family has dedicated their time towards protecting, restoring, and conserving the natural environment. James and Simone have recognized the vital role the environmental plays in shaping both the natural and physical environment. As a result of this, the family has developed lowland areas for swampy plants and have witnessed the positive impact it is having for the swampy plants and flowers native to that environment.
Furthermore, the Deboer family has dedicated its time to protect and enhance farmlands by planting hundreds of native trees across several acres. Through their contributions, James and Simone have demonstrated the importance of continually enhancing the natural environment as an ongoing means of protection and preservation.
Niagara Bruce Trail Club
For the past 50 years, the Niagara Bruce Trail Club has been responsible for maintaining, stewarding and promoting the Niagara portion of the Bruce Trail. Through a series of programs and initiatives, the clubs volunteer efforts have ensured the preservation of this unique environment.
One example in particular is, the Niagara Bruce Trail Club provides bursaries to the Niagara College School of Environmental and Horticulture Studies to involve young people in protecting this unique ecosystem. With a strong and active membership, the Niagara Bruce Trail Club is able to educate individuals on the uniqueness of the Bruce Trail by focusing on initiatives that promote physical activity, such as hiking. The initiatives reinforce the trails importance of the natural environment and waterways to communities within the Niagara Region.
Young People Award - Elementary Age
Connaught Eco Team
As a three time Gold standard Ontario EcoSchool, the Connaught Eco Team has been making continuous improvements to the school through a series of programs and initiatives. In the past four years, the Eco Team has encouraged young people to take action within their community as a way to contribute to the preservation of the environment by adding three water filtration systems, subsidizing reusable water bottles as well as enhancing tree canopies and native species plantings through the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority's Canopies for Kids.
The Connaught Eco Team brings in the educational aspect of environmental preservation by hosting talks presented by greenhouses, Niagara College, Public Health, Ontario Power Generation and the Ministry of the Environment. By combining the learning with action items, the Connaught Eco Team has been able to successfully engage young people in making positive contributions to both their community and the environment as a whole.
Young People Award - Secondary Age
In pursuit of a Natural Environment Degree from Sault College, Melisa Upwards has a passion for environmental awareness. Through her initiative, "Sea the Change", Melisa looks to educate individuals on different ways to become environmentally friendly as a way to make positive contributions to communities.
Melisa dedicates her time to plant trees, street cleanup initiatives, and more recently starting a garden as a way to produce natural and local foods. Through her environmental contributions, Melisa reinforces sustainability by educating individuals on new ways to preserve, protect and conserve the environment.