Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Four local “Champions for Nature” honored at Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist’s AGM

Press Story

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

May 22, 2008

Submitted by Pauline Donaldson

Four local “Champions for Nature” honored at Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist’s AGM

On Thursday, May 15, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist’s (MVFN) Annual General Meeting was held at Union Hall. The meeting marks the 20th year of operation for the club whose mission is to encourage the knowledge and protection of the natural world.

Prior to the AGM a social hour, with refreshments and a silent auction to benefit the Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary, was held. MVFN’s President Mike McPhail welcomed back the 2007-08 Board of Directors, all of whom accepted nomination for 2008-09 (with Joyce Clinton being elected MVFN’s new Vice President). Three new Directors were also elected including new Program Chair, Cathy Keddy, Amelia Ah You as Membership Chair and Member at Large, Bob Jurmain.

The meeting was also the premiere for MVFN’s Champions for Nature Awards presented by MVFN President Mike McPhail. With these annual awards the club will be able to acknowledge and congratulate individuals or groups who make outstanding contributions to the natural world in the Mississippi Valley. The first award winner announced was Mike Jaques, for raising awareness and appreciation of nature in the area of birding. Jaques was involved in the Carleton Place Christmas bird count for an amazing 21 years, for the first six as compiler and event organizer, and as compiler right up until the 2007 count. Unfortunately Jaques could not accept the award at the AGM- he was out of town birding! MVFN plans to present his award at one of the Fall lectures.

The second award was presented to an MVFN member who has influenced countless people with his contagious enthusiasm for all things natural. Dr. Jim Bendell, former Board Chair for Environmental Issues and longstanding member of the Lanark Highlands EAC is a retired Biology professor and award winning author of “Blue Grouse”. “Let me share a key learning I contribute to hanging around with Dr. Jim Bendell. Home is where there’s habitat and what can be done to make sure that home is here for the next generation,” said Mike McPhail in presenting the award. “Jim walks the talk and as a fledgling MVFN BOD member I seldom ever attended a public meeting in Lanark Highlands where a matter impacting nature was involved that I did not find Jim in attendance.”

The third Champion for Nature was Paul Keddy, a highly cited researcher and former Professor of Biology, most recently at Southeastern Louisiana University. Dr. Keddy and his wife Cathy, one of MVFN’s newest board members, recently returned to their home ‘roost’ near Carleton Place. “We are fortunate that Dr. Paul Keddy shares our appreciation of the local area” said McPhail in presenting the award, “So much so that he authored Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological profile of Lanark County back in 1999.” “The story of the contribution of the book did not end with its publication or the wealth of information it has provided to longstanding residents and visitors to Lanark County” said Mike McPhail. Dr. Keddy provided MVFN with publishing rights for the book and funds continue to flow to MVFN from its sales.

The fourth award was presented to Paul Egginton, a former MVFN board member and driving force behind MVFN’s Climate Change Outreach committee with projects such as Alberts Tulip Gardens, and frost watch. A national expert on Climate Change, Egginton spearheaded MVFN’s two major partnership projects with MVC, including a massive surface water temperature survey of the Mississippi watershed on the 2006 August long weekend and the Sept 2007 “Weathering the Change” workshops. Those saw a gathering of national climate change experts speak in Almonte and included a set of forums for local public input on climate change adaptation.

Following the AGM the audience were treated to an enjoyable presentation “The Flora and Fauna of South Africa”, as seen by Cliff Bennett on a recent trip. Schedules for MVFN’s upcoming summer hiking and canoe trips are now posted on MVFN’s website. For information or to register please contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013.