November 22, 2017
2017 Oxford Stewardship Award winner announced
Scotty and Jodie Zehr of East Zorra-Tavistock recognized for their efforts to protect our natural environment
Oxford County Warden David Mayberry presented the 2017 Oxford Stewardship Award to Scotty and Jodie Zehr at tonight’s meeting of County Council, in recognition of their efforts toward land improvement and sustainability.
The Zehr’s were singled out by the award selection committee for their deep commitment to conservation, including efforts to divert clean water away from a livestock yard, planting hardwood trees and wildlife shrubs and creating a two-acre wetland marsh on their farm. This wetland will reduce erosion and nutrient loss and will also improve natural vegetation and wildlife populations in the area. It will also become a key feature of a children’s summer camp, where kids get to experience activities such as horseback riding, frogging, and nature hikes.
The East Zorra-Tavistock residents were chosen from a pool of three finalists whose environmental stewardship projects were supported by the Clean Water Program. The program is funded by Oxford County and administered by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, and promotes water quality improvement, as well as woodland and wetland conservation and enhancement. All of this year’s finalists undertook various land improvements to protect the environment, ranging from tree planting and water diversion to establishing wetland marsh areas to add biodiversity.
In keeping with the theme of celebrating and supporting local achievement, Oxford County is once again honouring this year’s Oxford Stewardship Award recipient with original artwork commissioned from a local artist. As the 2017 winner, the Zehr’s will receive a $500 gift certificate towards the purchase of original artwork by Sue Goossens.
In addition to this prize, the Zehr’s will also be added to the recognition wall at the Oxford County Administration Building, designed to honour all past, and future, recipients of the Oxford Stewardship Award.
The winner of the Oxford Stewardship Award is chosen by representatives of local stewardship organizations, with Greg Wilson, Soil & Crop Improvement Association, and Cher Sprague, Stewardship Oxford, leading the judging process. This year’s other short-listed candidates included:
- The Grieve Family of Zorra Township
For retiring an area of cropland by creating a wetland marsh to reduce overland runoff during storms and adding biodiversity to the landscape.
- Jim and Carol Harrison of Zorra Township
In recognition of their efforts to retire 7.5 acres of agricultural floodplain along the middle branch of the Thames River by planting 3,900 seedlings
David Mayberry, Warden, County of Oxford
Oxford County has a proud history of environmental stewardship, and our landowners continue to demonstrate a deep respect and commitment to protecting our natural environment for future generations. I am honoured to present the ninth annual Oxford Stewardship Award in recognition of efforts to preserve and enhance natural features and areas.”
Gordon Hough, Director, Community Planning, Oxford County
The Oxford Stewardship Award brings together three partners who have a stake in protecting the quality of our land in Oxford County: individual landowners, the County, and our local conservation authorities. The County of Oxford is privileged to support the great stewardship work being done in the County.”
Scotty and Jodie Zehr in front of their wetland project. In the spring, the wetland will naturally fill up and restore, native plants and grasses will germinate, and a wildlife habitat will be created.
- Candidates for the Oxford Stewardship Award are drawn from recipients of the previous year’s Clean Water Program incentive funding. Funding is available for woodland and wetland conservation and enhancement; soil erosion prevention and remediation; protection of surface and groundwater; proper chemical and fuel handling and storage; and other environmental initiatives. In 2016, a total of 86 Clean Water projects were funded in Oxford County. This reflected in over$383,000 in total project value and $138,000 in grants. Oxford County committed $70,000 to the program. For more information on the Clean Water Program, visit www.cleanwaterprogram.ca
- Recipients of the Oxford Stewardship Award are displayed on a recognition wall at the Oxford County Administration Building.
- The Oxford Stewardship Award was established in 2009 to recognize County landowners who have made outstanding contributions to protecting our natural heritage. It builds on the legacy of the former Landsaver Award, which was granted between 1982 and 2003 to recognize outstanding contributions by the farming community toward the conservation of natural features and areas, such as woodlands, wetlands, streams and meadows. The current stewardship award serves to acknowledge the important role that all landowners can play in preserving and enhancing the County’s natural environment.
- Sue Goossens is an artist from Oxford County. For more information, visit www.suegoossens.ca
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About Oxford County
Located in the heart of southwestern Ontario at the crossroads of Highways 401 and 403, Oxford County has a population of approximately 114,000 people across eight municipalities that are “growing stronger together” through a partnership-oriented, two-tier municipal government incorporated as the County of Oxford. Oxford County is emerging as a leader in sustainable growth through the Future Oxford Community Sustainability Plan and County Council’s commitment to becoming a zero waste community and achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050. Situated in one of Ontario’s richest areas for farmland, agriculture is a key industry that serves as a springboard for some of the sustainable industries that are steadily diversifying the local economy. Oxford County offers a thriving local arts, culture and culinary community, as well as conservation parks, natural areas and more than 100 kilometres of scenic trails. The Oxford County Administration Building is located in Woodstock, Ontario. Visit www.oxfordcounty.ca or follow our social media sites at www.oxfordcounty.ca/social. Oxford County’s Strategic Plan is at oxfordcounty.ca/strategicplan.
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