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And here’s to the next 20 years…

More than 150 people joined us at the HawkRidge Golf Club on January 26th to renew memberships,  see old friends, and hear about the past year of activities. 

We got down to business with the highlights of the 2011 AGM, the President’s Remarks and the Treasurer’s Report. Peggy did a great job of going through the financials and gave a great summary of what has happened financially this year at the Conservancy. Jamie spoke about the changes to our physical and economic environment and thanked the Board members and staff for all of their hard work this year. He talked about our strategic planning and was happy to say that we finished the year with a surplus in our operating account. Our Annual Report has more information and can be found here.

 

This is a big year for the Conservancy, as it is our 20th Anniversary! It is incredible how much has changed over the years. The Conservancy started as a volunteer driven organization with a dream of protecting land…and just look at how far we have come together. We have lots planned for the year to celebrate this milestone, so stay tuned!

 

Attendees were updated on the Heartwood Fund, which has exceeded its first year goal to receive pledges of $500,000. To date we have received pledges of $750,000 with the support of the Past President’s Council. This year, we will be looking to add 20 new pledges to our Fund.

 

Mark gave his E.D Report and we are very happy to report that we have exceeded our goal of protecting 10,000 acres. We now have over 11,000 acres under our stewardship! David Hawke, our acting Stewardship Manager, stood by our map of land protected throughout the AGM and gave people updates on our properties. He also put together great photo boards of all of the volunteer activities throughout the year.

 

We recognized three volunteers this year – Mark Powell, Ingrid VanderMarel and Sharon & Ron Hancock. Mark and his company, Davey Tree Expert Co. of Canada (formerly The Treeman) has been assisting the Conservancy for many years. As one of our long-term Corporate Sponsors, Mark is always ready and willing to provide his company’s services to help keep our walking trails safe at Grant’s Woods. It may seem a bit odd to some people that we have such a close relationship with a business involved with the removal of trees, but Mark is also very passionate about nature and understands the importance of maintaining the ecological balance in a forest.

Ingrid has served on the board of directors since 2008 and has been directly involved in various projects since then. Because she lives next to the Copeland Forest, Ingrid has a keen interest in its welfare and has been on the Copeland Forest Stewardship Initiative from its initial set up and continues to assist with this important project. Ingrid is passionate about nature and the outdoors; and enjoys helping out with field work, even pulling invasive species. Ingrid’s boundless enthusiasm and dedication contribute greatly to the success of every project she is involved in.

Ron and Sharon have been volunteers with the Conservancy for many years; helping out with a variety of tasks including Mother Earth Day, and property team assistance for Grant’s Woods. They are also eager to share their passion for nature with budding young naturalists and help out the Conservancy whenever school tours visit. They bring their almost limitless energy to whatever they are involved in and we are truly grateful for their assistance and commitment to our organization. They received Conservancy pins and a big round of applause from the audience! Also, a great big thank you to all of our volunteers and to our wonderful Volunteer Coordinator, Jane Ball.

 

In addition to recognizing our volunteers, we also took time to celebrate Isabelle and Peggy and all of their hard work, as they will be leaving the Board. We are thankful for all of their hard work through the years and look forward to continuing our partnerships with them. Jamie will also be stepping down as President and will continue to be involved with the Past President’s Committee. David Homer is our new incoming President. For 25 years, David was the Director of the Media Centre and cross-appointed to the Faculty of Fine Arts, teaching television production, at Toronto’s York University. During his academic tenure, he also taught communications courses in the Faculties of Arts and Education. Upon retirement, David and his wife, Bonnie, moved to their beloved property on Lake Dalrymple, just east of Orillia where he spends a great deal of his time. Involved in several community activities including the Carden Field Naturalists, David established and still edits the Club’s newsletter, The Prairie Smoke. In addition to our new President, we also have three new Board Members – Gord Michener, Liz Ross and Kailin Grainix. Information on our new board members is available here.

 

We were thrilled to have Dr. Brock Fenton teach us more about bats. He was very informative and also very funny! Here are some things we learned:

  • There are 8 different species in Ontario
  • A female can give birth to a baby once a year
  • They enjoy natural habitats (not bat boxes)
  • White nose syndrome is a huge problem for the bat population
  • The smallest bat weighs as much as a dime
  • They don’t eat mosquitoes
  • They hang upside down because it’s easier to fly away

 

Many thanks to Brock for joining us! We all really enjoyed this presentation.

 

Attendees were encouraged to share their passion for the Conservancy and the work we do together with their family and friends. We had membership brochures available and you can still get brochures at the Grant’s Woods office. You can also download a membership form through our website.

 

In addition to membership, there is a new way to support the Conservancy! Monthly giving has many benefits such as it helps you to plan your giving, reduces usage of paper, stamps and staff time, as well as provides the Conservancy with a consistent source of support. And since it is our 20th Anniversary, anyone that signs up for monthly giving this year will be given a ‘coveted’ Couchiching Conservancy tuque and a raffle ticket for the bird sculpture, worth $700 (to be drawn on June 1).

 

There were lots of great photos taken, thanks to David Hawke and John Challis. View a photo album from the 2013 AGM here.

 

I think that the AGM was a great success! There was a lot of business to cover and also a lot of celebration. Thank you to everyone that attended!

– Tanya Clark, Development Coordinator