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December 09, 2015
Zorra family named recipient of 2015 Oxford Stewardship Award
Steele family commended for commitment to land improvement and sustainability 

County of Oxford Warden David Mayberry presented the 2015 Oxford Stewardship Award to members of the Steele family from Zorra Township today. The award recognizes the family’s efforts to help protect the quality of Oxford’s soil, water and air.

Singled out by the Oxford Stewardship Award selection committee for their deep commitment to conservation, the Steele family helps protect and improve their land through a variety of measures. Their efforts include the planting of hardwood and softwood trees to reduce soil loss and erosion, and the use of grass berms, selective tilling and stream setbacks to conserve water and prevent runoff. 

The Steele family was chosen from a pool of three finalists whose environmental stewardship projects were supported by the Clean Water Program. The program promotes rural water quality improvement and woodland and wetland enhancement and is funded by the County of Oxford and administered by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. All of this year’s finalists undertook various improvements on their land to protect the environment, ranging from the planting of windbreaks and the practice of no-till farming to the maintenance of woodlands and wetlands.

In keeping with the theme of celebrating and supporting local achievement, the County of Oxford is again honouring this year’s Oxford Stewardship Award recipient with original artwork commissioned from a local artist. As the 2015 winner, the Steele family received a $500 gift certificate towards the purchase of a work of art by Bunny Warner.

The winner of the Oxford Stewardship Award is chosen by Stewardship Oxford and the Oxford Soil & Crop Improvement Association, with Greg Wilson, Soil & Crop Improvement Association, and Cher Sprague, Stewardship Oxford, leading the judging process. This year’s other short-listed nominees included: 
  • Ben Roth from East Zorra-Tavistock
  • Dave and Joyce Vanderspek from East Zorra-Tavistock 


David Mayberry, Warden, County of Oxford
“In the seventh year of the Oxford Stewardship Award, our rural landowners continue to demonstrate their commitment to maintaining and managing their land in a way that will ensure its preservation for future generations. We are privileged to have such a forward-thinking farming community here in Oxford County, and this award is an opportunity to show our appreciation.”

Gordon Hough, Director, Community & Strategic Planning, County of Oxford
“The Oxford Stewardship Award is a testament to the level of cooperation among the County’s farming communities, landowners and local conservation authorities. The County is honoured to support the great work this group is doing to protect and improve our natural environment.” 


  • 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 2014, a total of 102 Clean Water projects were funded in Oxford County. This reflected in over $593,000 in total project value and $155,000 in grants. Oxford County committed $70,000 to the program. For more information on the Clean Water Program, visit
  • The Oxford Stewardship Award was established in 2009. 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 land, water and air. The development of a stewardship award to acknowledge the role rural landowners play in preserving natural heritage was one of the recommended actions in the Oxford Natural Heritage Study.

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About Oxford County

Located in the heart of southwestern Ontario, Oxford County has a population of approximately 109,000 people across eight municipalities that are “growing stronger together” through a partnership-oriented, two-tier municipal government incorporated as the County of Oxford. 

One of Ontario’s richest areas for farmland, Oxford County also boasts a rapidly expanding commercial and industrial sector that is bolstered by its choice location at the crossing of Highways 401 and 403. The County is home to a thriving local arts, culture and culinary community, as well as conservation areas, parks, natural areas and more than 100 kilometres of scenic trails. The Oxford County Administration Building is located in Woodstock. Visit or follow our social media sites at Oxford County’s Strategic Plan is at


Brett Kelly | Strategic Communication & Engagement 
519.539.9800, ext. 3158 |

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