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2017 SSEA Partners Reception

Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) held their annual Partners Reception on November 9th at the Oakwood Community Centre in Victoria Harbour.

At the event, SSEA acknowledged the many contributions made by landowners, partners and volunteers to various SSEA programs and projects, and presented a number of awards recognizing environmental champions.

   The SSEA 2017 Partners Reception was well attended.   

   Golder Associates Ltd. Grounded Coffe Co.    Township of Tay

Thank you to Golder Associates Ltd. for sponsoring our
event this year. Thanks also to Grounded Coffee Co. for supplying
the coffee and Township of Tay for providing the venue.

Severn Sound ​Bob Whittam Environmental Award

Bob Whittam is a biologist and an avid naturalist who is well known in the Severn Sound area. He has been instrumental in ensuring the continued success and presence in our community of the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre. One of Bob’s many accomplishments was his work in facilitating the public involvement program of the Severn Sound Remedial Action Plan (RAP). He was Public Advisory Committee Chair for many years through the development of the RAP.

Bob Whittam Award Recipients

In 2000 the Severn Sound Bob Whittam Environmental Award was started in order to honour Bob by recognizing those individuals or groups who are dedicated and truly interested in improving the Severn Sound ecosystem. All nominations are reviewed by Bob. The Bob Whittam Environmental Award was first awarded by Bob Whittam and SSEA in 2000 to Fran Westman. Other Bob Whittam Award Recipients include Brian Jones (2001), Margaret Killing (2002), Peter Dupuis (2003), Sara Knight (2004), Dr. Si Lowry (2005), Bob Bowles (2006), Stephen Ogden (2007), André Claire (2008), Huronia Woodland Owners Association (2009), Andy Fletcher (2010), John Boucher (2011), Wendy and Jeff Bumstead (2012), Bill Sweenie (2013), Peter Andrews (2014), Terry Breckenridge (2015), Lynn Short (2016) and Pat Woodford (2017).



  • Brian Jones (2001)Brian Jones (2001)
    2001 Recipient Brian Jones (left) with Bob Whittam (Right)
  • Margaret Killing (2002)Margaret Killing (2002)
    2002 Recipient Margaret Killing (Right) with Bob Whittam (Left)
  • Peter Dupuis (2003)Peter Dupuis (2003)
    2003 Recipient Peter Dupuis (left) with Bob Whittam (Centre) and SSRAP PAC Chair Rob Coulas (Right)
  • Sara Knight (2004)Sara Knight (2004)
    2004 Recipient Sarah Knight (left) with Bob Whittam (Centre) and Rob Coulas (Right)
  • Bob Bowles (2006)Bob Bowles (2006)
    2006 Recipient Bob Bowles (left) with Rob Coulas (Right) Chair of the SSRAP PAC
  • Steve Ogden (2007)Steve Ogden (2007)
    2007 Recipient Steve Ogden (Centre) with MPP Garfield Dunlop (Left) and SSEA Chair Keith Sherman (Right)
  • Huronia Woodland Owners Association (2009)Huronia Woodland Owners Association (2009)
    2009 Recipients Huronia Woodland Owners Association with Bob Whittam (Centre-Right) and Keith Sherman (Left)
  • Andy Fletcher (2010)Andy Fletcher (2010)
    2010 Recipient Andy Fletcher (Centre) with SSEA Chair Greg Sutcliffe (Left) and Keith Sherman (Right)
  • John Boucher (2011)John Boucher (2011)
    2011 Recipient John Boucher (left) with SSEA Executive Director Keith Sherman (Right)
  • Wendy and Jeff Bumstead (2012)Wendy and Jeff Bumstead (2012)
    2012 Recipients Wendy (Left)and Jeff (Right) Bumstead with SSEA Chair Bob Jefferies (Centre)
  • Bill Sweenie (2013)Bill Sweenie (2013)
    2013 Recipient Bill Sweenie (Centre) with MP Bruce Stanton (Left) and Keith Sherman (Right)
  • Peter Andrews (2014)Peter Andrews (2014)
    2014 Recipient Peter Andrews (Left) with MPP Garfield Dunlop (Right)
  • Terry Breckenridge (2015)Terry Breckenridge (2015)
    Severn Sound Bob Whittam Award recipient Terry Breckenridge at the 2015 SSEA Partners Reception.
  • Lynn Short (2016)Lynn Short (2016)
    Severn Sound Bob Whittam Award recipient Lynn Short at the 2016 SSEA Partners Reception.
  • Pat Woodford (2017)Pat Woodford (2017)
    2017 Severn Sound Bob Whittam Award recipient, Pat Woodford (Right). Presented by SSEA General Manager, Julie Cayley (Left).

2017 Severn Sound ​Bob Whittam Environmental Award

The 2017 recipient of the Bob Whittam Environmental Award is PAT WOODFORD.   

Pat is a retired science teacher having taught chemistry, biology and environmental science. She is an avid naturalist and was president of the Orillia Naturalists’ Club.

Pat Woodford, recipient of the 2017 Severn Sound Bob Whittam Environmental Award 

Pat is the chair of the ecology and sustainability committee of the Copeland Forest Friends Association. In this capacity, she has led the committee's involvement   in water testing in the critical headwater streams in the Copeland Forest. She has recruited volunteers, planned the observation sites and testing, engaged her volunteers in training, and partnered with the Orillia Fish and Game Cons Club, Couchiching Conservancy and SSEA.

This initiative is a model of how to engage citizens in science and monitoring of the environment. This project is also significant in the SSEA region as two of the three rivers flowing out of the Copeland Forest are headwater rivers in the Severn Sound.

Message from Bob Whittam:

"I first met Pat Woodford on a Friday night in downtown Port Rowan or just outside at nearby Long Point in May 1968. She and her husband Jim were volunteer bird banders for the Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO).

The Observatory was located at the tip of Long Point on Lake Erie. As the Warden of the station, on Friday nights I would drive an old Land Rover into town to pick up the volunteers who would assist with a variety of tasks from fixing the roof to banding birds. The drive along the Long Point beaches and dunes was an adventure.

A few years before, Pat had banded the first bird Long Point, a Song Sparrow. Just last year the one millionth bird, also a Song Sparrow was handed at the station. Pat was a key player in the establishment of the Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO) and the Ontario Bird Banding Association (OBBA).

After a year at Long Point I visited Pat and Jim at their house in Toronto where there was always a menagerie of natural history highlighted by their pet rabbit, Thumper.

Pat was an early proponent and mentor for many volunteers who today we call Citizen Scientists. It is so wonderful to see that Pat s still training Citizen Scientists with stream water monitoring, sampling and testing as chair of the ecology and sustainability committee of the Copeland Forest Friends Association. Two rivers flow out of Copeland Forest into Severn Sound.
I am very proud that this award goes to Pat Woodford.


Bob Whittam

Please download the Nomination Form if you would like to nominate a person or group for the 2017 Severn Sound Bob Whittam Environmental award.


Individual, landowners and partners who were recognized for their exceptional contributions to the Severn Sound environment were presented the following awards.

2017 SSEA Student Environmental Award 1

SSEA Student Environmental Awards recognize outstanding students in the Severn Sound area that have displayed a passion for the natural world demonstrating a keen interest in nature, the environment, conservation, stewardship and sustainability. These awards are being received by students who have aligned their environmental beliefs with their actions at school and at home.

Five of this year’s recipients of the SSEA Student Environmental Award are, from James Keating Elementary School … Marina Clarke, Meadow Eadie, Krisily Geldart-Gillespie, Paige McIntyre, and Taylor Richardson.

This group of students from James Keating Elementary School has been working hard to raise awareness of the plight of pollinators such as bees, as well as working to improve pollinator habitat.

These five young people ran colouring contests for their whole school; raised more than $200 through a school bake sale, donated some of the money to the local ‘Protecting Our Pollinators’ project and used the rest of the funds to purchase and plant bee-friendly perennials in the school flower garden. They also wrote letters to local councils asking for support for the Protecting our Pollinators project, and provided suggestions for pollinator-friendly actions in the community.

Please download the Nomination Form  if you would like to nominate a person or group

2017 SSEA Student Environmental Award 2

​Another local student has been very involved with local environmental initiatives. Courtney Lockhart, from Georgian Bay District Secondary School, is the recipient of a Severn Sound Environmental Association Student Environmental Award.

Courtney Lockhart receives the 2017 SSEA Student Environmental Award

Left to right: Laura Baldwick (Township of Tiny Pollinator Project Coordinator), Steffen Walma (Township of Tiny Deputy Mayor and SSEA Board Chair), SSEA Student Environmental Award winner Courtney Lockhart, Avery Bassett (representing MP Bruce Stanton), Jill Dunlop (representing MPP Patrick Brown)

Courtney has a passion for the environment and native wildlife. She started volunteering at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre when she was 12 years old, and at 15 she became the Junior Naturalist Coordinator, where she was responsible for organizing and leading a program to encourage a passion for natural science and studying in an environmental field. Courtney has continued to run the Junior Naturalist program for the past three summers, and she has also attended two Youth Summits for Leadership & Bio-diversity where she has continued to develop her knowledge about the environment and new ways to engage youth.

2017 SSEA Environmental Stewardship Award 1

The Severn Sound Environmental Associations Stewardship award recognizes an individual or group for their meaningful achievements in the restoration and protection of the Severn Sound area.       

Two of the recipients of the 2017 SSEA Environmental Stewardship Award are Town of Penetanguishene’s Emily Agar and Jeff Hamelin.

 Emily Agar and Jeff Hamelin receive the 2017 SSEA Environmental Stewardship Award

Left to right: Jill Dunlop (representing MPP Patrick Brown), Mike Lauder (Town of Penetanguishene Councillor and SSEA Board Member), SSEA Stewardship Award winners Jeff Hamelin and Emily Agar, Anita Dubeau (Town of Penetanguishene Deputy Mayor), Avery Bassett (representing MP Bruce Stanton), Carl Lesperance (SSEA Lead Monitoring Technician)

With Emily and Jeff’s leadership, the Town of Penetanguishene was selected to participate in the Great Lakes Climate Change Adaptation Project led by ICLEI Canada and supported by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change under the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes.

As part of this program, Jeff Hamelin, the Town’s Manager of Capital Projects and Emily Agar, the Asset Manager/GIS Technician, coordinated a vulnerability and risk assessment workshop with local stakeholders such as Sustainable Severn Sound, SSEA and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

The workshop, held in Penetanguishene on February 14, 2017, brought together people with a common interest in Climate Change, its future impacts and site-specific risks; it allowed local municipalities and stakeholders to share their knowledge and perspective, and was an opportunity to foster new relationships.

Since the workshop, Sustainable Severn Sound and the Sustainability Committee have announced a new project to develop a local, collaborative community Climate Change Action Plan for Penetanguishene, Midland, Severn, Oro-Medonte, Georgian Bay, Tiny and Tay. The information gathered at the workshop that Jeff and Emily organized will be of great importance as this Climate Change Adaptation Strategy is developed.

2017 SSEA Environmental Stewardship Award 2

Another recipient of the 2017 SSEA Environmental Stewardship Award is the Friends of Tiffin Pond & Tiffin Homeowners Association.

Friends of Tiffin Pond & Tiffin Homeowners Association receive the 2017 SSEA Stewardship Award 

Back row, left to right: Steffen Walma (Township of Tiny Deputy Mayor and SSEA Board Chair), Jill Dunlop (representing MPP Patrick Brown), Avery Bassett (representing MP Bruce Stanton), Mike Ross (Town of Midland Deputy Mayor), Patricia File (Town of Midland Councillor and SSEA Board Member); front row, left to right: Anna McClymont (SSEA Invasive Species Program Coordinator), SSEA Stewardship Award winner Sonya Hudson (Friends of Tiffin Pond & Tiffin Homeowners Association)

The Town of Midland owns a stormwater management pond that has been adopted by the Tiffin Homeowners Association, who formed a committee called the Friends of Tiffin Pond.

Over the past several years, the Tiffin Homeowners Association and the Friends of Tiffin Pond have participated in meetings with the Town’s Engineer and SSEA to discuss how to maintain and improve the function, health and aesthetics of the pond. When SSEA proposed planting native trees and shrubs in the upland buffer around the pond to provide wildlife habitat, the group enthusiastically agreed, and volunteers have planted 100 trees and 400 shrubs over the past two years. Volunteers from the group were also involved in mapping the occurrence of invasive Phragmites around the pond, and organizing a work crew to properly cut and bag the plant under the direction of SSEA staff. The Friends plan additional work to manage Phragmites over the next few years, as needed.

2017 SSEA Environmental Stewardship Award 3

Another recipient of the 2017 SSEA Stewardship Award is Tracy Roxborough.

Tracy Roxborough is the Sustainability Coordinator for Sustainable Severn Sound, a collaborative, multi-sector sustainability program created in 2011 to provide leadership on the Severn Sound Sustainability Plan.

Tracy Roxborough receives the 2017 SSEA Environmental Stewardship Award 

Left to right: Avery Bassett (representing MP Bruce Stanton), Steffen Walma (Township of Tiny Deputy Mayor and SSEA Board Chair), SSEA Stewardship Award winner Tracy Roxborough, Patricia File (Town of Midland Councillor and SSEA Board Member), Jill Dunlop (representing MPP Patrick Brown)

Tracy has guided the organization and helped it achieve a number of ambitious goals. She has assisted Severn Sound communities with capacity building, and facilitated further refinement and follow-through on the Sustainability Plan. Tracy has developed a number of key communications tools, including a website to share case studies, success stories, funding opportunities and resources; she has worked in partnership with other groups to coordinate workshops and a speaker series, as well as leveraging engagement and funding on issues such as invasive plants, climate change, and nature in communities. Tracy has also been successful in securing critical funding to move a local Climate Change Action plan forward.

Tree Program Recognition

Tree Planting

In 2017, through the SSEA's habitat enhancement tree planting program, 5,100 tree seedlings were planted in spring. This brings the total seedlings planted to date through our community tree plants to more than 233,000.  We are grateful to the County of Simcoe Forestry Department, who funded seedling costs for our community tree plants.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Ron Stevens, SSEA member for the Township of Severn will present certificates to recognize and thank the following landowners who hosted 2017 community tree plants:

  • Liz and Kurt Frost
  • Charlie and Karol Gratrix
  • Cecil Hambly & Stephanie Francoeur
  • The Pape Family
  • Town of Midland: Tiffin Pond (Mayor McKay)
  • Robert Wiggins 

The SSEA also wants to acknowledge & thank our wonderful community partners & volunteers who help us implement these projects. Our 2017 tree plants would not have been possible without the participation of:

  • Scouts Canada and Alex Seaborn
  • James Keating Elementary School
  • Georgian Bay District Secondary School
  • Warminster Elementary School
  • Coldwater Public School
  • Mundy's Bay Public School
  • St. Theresa's Catholic High School
  • Friends of Tiffin Pond and the Tiffin Homeowners Association
  • Volunteers Sarah and Scott Buckingham
  • Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma, SSEA member for the Township of Tiny, his son Ronin, his sister Jocyln Van Velzen, and Ronin's grandma Dana Loughran

Tree Distribution

This spring, SSEA coordinated the municipal Tree Seedling Distribution Project for the eleventh year. The goal is to promote planting native trees & shrubs in the Severn Sound area. Well over 100,000 trees have been distributed through this initiative to date.

The SSEA was very pleased to have all nine SSEA municipalities participate again this year. In addition to municipal staff support, we had several volunteers and council members assisting with the sorting and distribution of 8,690 seedlings in 2017. Councillor Barb Coutanche, SSEA member for the Township of Oro-Medonte, will present certificates of recognition. Thank you to:

  • Oro-Medonte Councillor John Crawford and Doris Crawford
  • Georgian Bay Councillor Kathy Kay (ask Mayor Larry Braid to accept on her behalf)
  • Margaret Killing
  • Jack McFadden
  • Mary Skinner
  • Alan Waffle

   Township of Tay Mayor, Scott Warnock welcoming the audience to the SSEA 2017 Partners Reception 

Award Nomination Forms are available for download.