Conservation Foundation Honours Award Recipients, Celebrates Conservation Successes

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation has recognized two local families for their philanthropy at its Donor Appreciation and Awards, held on June 12.

“Conservation Foundation Awards have been presented since 2012, honouring those who have generously supported the conservation projects and programs that make the Windsor and Essex region healthy and sustainable,” said Foundation Executive Director Tim Byrne.

The Clifford Hatch Conservation Foundation Award was presented to the Collavino Family, who have lived in the River Canard community since 1983, and greatly appreciate all of the wildlife and biodiversity of the region. In 2005, the Collavino family purchased a wetland property in the River Canard watershed, and over the years, worked with ERCA on many initiatives to manage and improve the biodiversity of their property.

In fall 2022, the Collavino Family generously donated this 150 acre property to ERCA to become the Collavino Conservation Area. A wetland restoration and management plan has been developed and in 2022, a prescribed burn was undertaken to control invasive Phragmites.

The Collavino family clearly identified that they wanted to ensure that the public could access this beautiful and much-loved conservation property and in 2023, donated $100,000 to support creating these amenities for public access.  Future plans include adding a parking area for the public, a mowed pathway around the dyked area will provide a 2.2km walking path and educational signage.

“The impact of the Collavino family’s generosity will provide a legacy of a cleaner and healthier environment and opportunities for people to connect with nature,” said Byrne. “It is our great honour to present them with the Clifford Hatch Conservation Foundation Award.”

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation Award for Outstanding Corporate Contribution recognizes a business entity that has made significant contributions to the Foundation’s fundraising goals, and Hearn Industrial Services was presented with this award.  

Hearn Industrial Services is a multi-national leading provider of Transportation, Supply Chain and Quality Services whose success story began in 1966. Hearn Industrial Services is committed to reducing its ecological footprint to preserve the planet.  In 2017, it launched a new Container Management Program using an Energy Efficient Industrial Washing Unit, reducing waste going to landfills. In 2023, it announced that it would be making the switch to electric forklifts at all of its facilities to make a significant impact in reducing its carbon footprint and promoting a greener future.

When the changes to the Conservation Authorities Act identified Conservation Education programs as non-mandatory in 2020, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation launched the Partners In Sustainability – Inspiring Future Conservationists and Eco-Stewards program to ensure that this important program could continue.

The Hearn family, upon learning of the program’s vulnerability and wanting to ensure that this important part of a young person’s education could continue, immediately stepped in to assist, and made a five-year commitment as its Gold Sponsor. This total commitment of $125,000 ensures students can continue to connect to nature for a five-year period.  The Foundation, the Authority, and the thousands of children who continue to benefit from the Hearn family’s generosity, could not be more grateful.

“For their substantial impact in ensuring that young people can continue to connect to the natural world as part of their education, we are honoured to present Hearn Industrial Services and the Hearn family with the Conservation Foundation Award for Outstanding Corporate Contribution,” said Byrne.

The Foundation also thanked its many supporters who raised over $672,000 for conservation projects last year which the WECF Entrance to the Cypher Systems Group Greenway, planting thousands of trees, and beginning the much-anticipated restoration work at the historic John R. Park Homestead. You can read the Foundation’s Gratitude Report and watch its impact video below.

“We are so grateful to all of you – the many donors and supporters who continue to make an impact in our region, to make it the Place for Life,” said Claire Wales, the Foundation’s Chair for the past three years. Terry Patterson was appointed as the new Chair for this upcoming year, as the Foundation continues to raise funds to support tree planting, trail connections, outdoor education and heritage preservation.

Since 1977, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation has been enriching and sustaining the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region as the Place for Life.