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February 22, 2017
2016 Oxford Stewardship Award winner announced
Mike Eckert of Zorra Township recognized for his efforts to protect our natural environment

Oxford County Warden David Mayberry presented the 2016 Oxford Stewardship Award to Mike Eckert of Zorra Township this evening, in recognition of his efforts toward land improvement and sustainability.

Mr. Eckert was singled out by the award selection committee for his deep commitment to conservation, including his efforts to retire fields through the planting of seedlings, potted conifers and large hardwoods, and for ongoing maintenance of hardwood lots.

The Zorra Township resident was 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 reduced tilling and the planting of windbreaks to improved storage and handling of manure to optimize nutrient use.

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 2016 winner, Mr. Eckert receives a $500 gift certificate towards the purchase of a work of art by Gracia Wassink.

In addition to this prize, Mr. Eckert’s name will also be added to the newly constructed 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 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 candidates included:

  • The Frazer Family from Zorra Township
  • Mike Hawkins from South-West Oxford


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 eighth annual Oxford Stewardship Award in recognition of efforts to protect our land, water and air.”

Gordon Hough, Director, Community & Strategic Planning, County of Oxford

“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.”


Left to Right: Peter Crockett, CAO, Oxford County  |  Mike Eckert, 2016 Oxford Stewardship Award recipient  |  Gordon Hough, Director, Community & Strategic Planning, Oxford County  |  Cher Sprague, Stewardship Oxford  |  Gracia Wassink, artist


  • 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 2015, a total of 106 Clean Water projects were funded in Oxford County. This reflected in over$318,000 in total project value and $140,000 in grants. Oxford County committed $70,000 to the program. For more information on the Clean Water Program, visit
  • 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.
  • Gracia Wassink is an artist from Oxford County. For more information, visit

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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 or follow our social media sites at Oxford County’s Strategic Plan is at


Donna Kemp | Strategic Communication & Engagement
519.539.9800, ext. 3158 |

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