SSEA Partners Reception
2021/2022 Awards Event
Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) held their annual Partners Reception on March 24th, 2023, at the Coldwater Community Hall in Severn Township. Each year we recognize those who are dedicated and truly interested in improving the Severn Sound Watershed and area. At the event, SSEA presented a number of awards recognizing environmental champions.
Thank you to Mosey & Mosey, Mink Insurance Services, Pahapill and Associates, Csumrik and Associates and Coldwater Foodland for sponsoring our event this year and to Coldwater Community Arena Staff for providing outstanding support. Thanks also to Ego’s Farm Market for donating the door prizes.
The 2021/2022 Awards for this year’s event include the Severn Sound Environmental Legacy Award, the Severn Sound Student Environmental Champion Award, the Severn Sound Environmental Volunteer Champion Award and the Severn Sound Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship Award.
Severn Sound Environmental Legacy Award
The Severn Sound Environmental Legacy Award recognizes individuals who have made substantial contributions to Severn Sound and its watershed. These people inspire others through their actions, passion and commitment and have left a legacy that encourages others to become environmental champions. This year’s Evironmental Legacy Award was presented to Kith Sherman.
For decades Keith has applied his exacting science and extraordinary communications skills to advance remediation and restoration of the Great Lakes, particularly Severn Sound. It was through his determined leadership that the SSEA was created and sustained well after Severn Sound was delisted as an Area of Concern. His knowledge, professionalism and ability to build partnerships were instrumental in making the SSEA a relevant organization that was established to not only guide the watershed to being delisted, but also to sustain the progress made under the Remedial Action Plan.
Former SSEA Executive Director, Keith Sherman, is presented with the Severn Sound Environmental Legacy Champion Award. (l to r) SSEA Chair Steffen Walma, SSEA Water Scientist Aisha Chiandet, Sherman, SSEA Executive Director Julie Cayley, Midland Mayor Bill Gordon and SSEA Board Member Roberta Bald.
SSEA Sustainability and Stewardship Champion Award
The Severn Sound Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship Champion Award recognizes an individual or group that has contributed to the stewardship of the Severn Sound environment through the demonstration of outstanding leadership, creativity and innovation in forging sustainability in the watershed and ecosystem. There are two recipients this year.
Kate has been a champion in the ceaseless battle to manage invasive species within the Severn Sound watershed. As the driving force behind MTM Conservation’s Phrag Free Tiny Marsh initiative, Kate organized volunteers, secured funding, and helped create a management plan that came to fruition. Kate continually demonstrates outstanding leadership through her engagement and collaboration with groups such as the MTM Conservation, Georgian Bay Forever, Severn Sound Environmental Association and local school groups, to further the understanding and management of invasive phragmites.
Local naturalist Kate Harries is presented with the Severn Sound Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship Champion Award. (l to r) SSEA Chair Steffen Walma, SSEA Invasive Species Program Coordinator Patrick Jackson, SSEA Board Member Brian Bochek, Harries and SSEA Executive Director Julie Cayley.
As General Manager with the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce, Cathy proposed an idea to boost SSEA’s social media presence by becoming part of the Chamber’s “Did You Know?” series. Cathy’s involvement increased SSEA’s exposure to different social media platforms, helping to promote understanding of several environmental issues affecting the Severn Sound ecosystem. As well, Cathy and her Team helped SSEA access various resources during the pandemic, allowing SSEA to focus on the important work it does for watershed constituents.
The Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce and its General Manager Cathy Tait are presented with the Severn Sound Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship Champion Award. (l to r) SSEA Vice-chair Danielle Alexander, SSEA Executive Director Julie Cayley, Tait, and SSEA Board Member Barry Norris.
Long-term Board Member Recognition
Former SSEA Directors Anita Dubeau and Ron Stevens are recognized for their long-term commitments to the SSEA Board. (l to r) Dubeau, SSEA Chair Steffen Walma, Stevens and SSEA Executive Director Julie Cayley.
Gabrielle Crate & Reagan Parham
Gabrielle and Reagan attend Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School. Together these two students undertook project work with Parks Canada, developing proposals to enhance monarch butterfly and pollinator habitat locally. As well, they developed a presentation and video in support of Lakehead University’s proposed Research & Education Farm and, they developed a successful video campaign for Stop Sprawl Orillia, as well as, a city-wide digital map detailing potential vacant land sites for “smart growth.”
Environmental students Gabrielle Crate and Reagan Parham are presented with the Severn Sound Student Environmental Champion Award. (l to r) SSEA Vice-chair Danielle Alexander, SSEA Water Scientist Aisha Chiandet, SSEA Board Member Mark Taylor, Crate, Parham and SSEA Executive Director Julie Cayley.
As a student at Georgian Bay District Secondary School, Briana has helped the cafeteria to switch from single-use plastic to metal cutlery, ran the compost program, conducted an audit of the school’s recycling program, wrote a letter to Town Council challenging the grass-cutting bylaw of 12 inches to allow lawn height to be up to 3 feet to support indigenous and pollinator plants, continues to inform the school of environmental events on the announcements, and continues to incorporate environmentalism into all her courses including creating several art pieces based on conservation themes.
Local student Briana Figgures is presented with the Severn Sound Student Environmental Champion Award. (l to r) SSEA Chair Steffen Walma, SSEA Vice-chair Danielle Alexander, (accepting on behalf of Briana, her sister and dad respectively) Kendra Figgures, Chris Figgures, SSEA Manager Source Water Protection Melissa Caruthers and SSEA Executive Director Julie Cayley.
Severn Sound Environmental Volunteer Champion Award
The Severn Sound Environmental Volunteer Champion Award celebrates and recognizes an individual or group that has been involved with a volunteer initiative to help improve the Severn Sound watershed and ecosystem. This year there are two recipients.
Don has volunteered as boat captain since 1997 for SSEA’s Open-water Monitoring Program. Don has faithfully guided SSRAP/SSEA employees throughout the bays of Severn Sound, to complete bi-weekly sampling at 14 long-term stations, from April into October. This includes collecting chemistry, phytoplankton and zooplankton samples, and field parameters. Don has put in over 140 volunteer hours each year, including sampling in some less than ideal weather conditions.
Alex Seaborn has for many years worked with SSEA to organize and coordinate annual ‘ScouTrees’ planting events. SSEA would find tree plant sites, work with the landowners and source the seedlings, and Alex helped organize the volunteers to do the planting. Alex coordinated with a variety of Scout groups from across North Simcoe and even as far as Parry Sound, and in spring these groups – often several hundred youth and adults – would descend on a site and plant up to 3,000 seedlings in a single morning. Alex has helped facilitate the planting of more than 34,500 seedlings.
Don Limoges and Alex Seaborn are presented with the Severn Sound Environmental Volunteer Champion Award. (l to r) SSEA Chair Steffen Walma, SSEA Ecosystem Technologist Paula Madill, Limoges, SSEA Watershed Health Coordinator Nikki Priestman, SSEA Executive Board Member Suzanne Marchand and SSEA Executive Director Julie Cayley. (Absent – Alex Seaborn).
Environmental Champions Award Presentations
On March 24, 2023 Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) hosted the 2021/2022 Severn Sound Environmental Champion Awards and Partners Reception. It was a successful night where Environmental Champions from Severn Sound were celebrated for their commitment to improving the environmental health of the Severn Sound watershed, and beyond!
A Part of our History
Over a span of 20 years and an original part of our history, the renowned biologist and avid naturalist, Bob Whittam was celebrated through the Severn Sound Bob Whittam Environmental Award. The Award was brought to fruition by Keith Sherman, Executive Director of the Severn Sound Environmental Association in 1999 to honour Bob’s commitment to the Severn Sound ecosystem through his work at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, with the Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Program and as Severn Sound Remedial Action Plan Public Advisory Committee Chair. The Award recognizes individuals or groups who are dedicated to improving the Severn Sound watershed and who exemplify environmental advocacy and stewardship of the Severn Sound ecosystem. The Bob Whittam Environmental Award was first presented 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), Pat Woodford (2017), Ron Reid (2018), Scott Warnock (2018), and Sandy Agnew (2019).