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2 Newmarket residents recognized for environmental contributions in LSRCA awards

Tom Lewis and Aileen Barclay both received the Healthy Community award for their work in engaging locals about the environment

Two Newmarket residents are being recognized for their contributions to conservation in the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's annual awards ceremony, held on Friday morning. 

Tom Lewis and Aileen Barclay each received a Healthy Community Award in the virtual ceremony that was held at 9 a.m. on Nov. 26. 

The award recognizes projects that encourage community and connection by expanding demographic reach through events like clean-ups or fairs, sharing knowledge broadly on social media and through campaigns, or delivering innovative education programs in schools and to the community at large. 

A recently retired teacher, Lewis was awarded for his many years as the outdoor education specialist at Pickering College in Newmarket. 

"Countless children from kindergarten through to grade twelve have benefited from his knowledge and expertise, as well as his passion for the outdoors," the conservation authority said of Lewis's work. 

In his time as a teacher he led his students in hikes, made trails, planted trees, maintained the grounds at the school, tracked animals, documented invasive species and developed campsites. 

"Tom has touched the lives of many students, including international boarding students, who otherwise might not have had a chance to experience Canada at its pristine, natural core," LSRCA said. 

Meanwhile, Barclay was recognized for her work in a Facebook group called York Region Nature. 

She started the group in January 2015 and has grown it to more than 2,200 members, with hundreds of posts each month. 

"Through this group, she promotes respectful appreciation and knowledge of nature, which is key to helping restore the watershed and our planet. Social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation and Aileen not only uses this outlet to correct inaccuracies, but she is active in a variety of social spheres, helping to correct misinformation and speak for nature," the conservation authority said. 

Barclay is an ecologist and sustainable gardening expert who has been happy to share her skills with others. 

Topics discussed in the group include feeding wildlife, off-leash dogs in natural areas and even the Lymantria dispar dispar moths. 

"She's passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated to promoting the importance of our natural world and our place in it, making a difference in the lives of those in our watershed," LSRCA said. 

A total of six people were recognized with the Healthy Community Award. Other recipients were 6-year-old Ryan Marques of Bradford West Gwillimbury, The Sutton Beavers, Scouts & Guides of Georgina, Claire Malcolmson, and the East Gwillimbury Environmental Advisory Committee. 

The annual awards recognize local "environmental champions" who are making a difference in the LSRCA watershed. 

This year there were 29 recipients across the following categories: 

  • Healthy Community (six recipients)
  • Healthy Land (12 recipients)
  • Healthy Water (eight recipients)
  • Distinguished Achievement (one recipient)
  • Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist (one recipient)
  • George R. Richardson Award of Honour (one recipient)

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Elizabeth Keith

About the Author: Elizabeth Keith

Elizabeth Keith is a general assignment reporter. She graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2017. Elizabeth is passionate about telling local stories and creating community.
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