The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists wrapped up a surprisingly (given we all stayed at home) successful year of presentations on 20 May with its Annual Member’s Night including awards, updates and the Annual General Meeting. After a packed round of Ken Allison’s Nature Sightings, sent to him by members, we were able to hear from Gord Harrison, co-coordinator of Climate Network Lanark (CNL), who provided a brief history of this group of volunteers working on climate change solutions and explained its three-pronged nature-based work.

Trish Larkin presented the Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary awards (see below), as well as offering us a glimpse of “where are they now” in an interview with one of the earlier recipients of the award, Ruth Tamas, from 2015.

The role of the online iNaturalist programme, recording sightings of plants, animals, fungi and other features through photograph uploads by amateurs and professionals all over the world was part of a presentation by Kit Muma and Bruce Smith. They are members who moved permanently to the area a few years ago, after spending many summers at the Queen’s University Biological Station near Chaffey’s Locks, while teaching at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. They gave us a bit of background on themselves, and a tour of their property on Otty Lake.

And finally, we took care of necessary business with the annual meeting and the election of a new Board of Directors:

  • President: Linda McCormick
  • First Vice President: Val Wilkinson
  • Second Vice President: George Yaremchuk
  • Past President: Patricia Enright
  • Treasurer: John Blais
  • Chair of Programs: Denis Gallant
  • Chair of Finance: vacant
  • Chair of Environmental Education: Bob Smith
  • Chair of Conservation and Habitat: Paul Frigon
  • Chair of Membership: Sylvia Miller
  • Chair of Nature Protection: Tineke Kuiper
  • Director at Large: Cliff Bennett
  • Director at Large: Stan Holloway
  • Chair of Paddling Committee: Art Solomonian

Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary

As a charitable organization Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have a mission to advance nature education and conservation. One facet of our work involves supporting local students. We have activities at all levels of education: from elementary school with our Monarch Butterfly release; through high school with sponsorships to the Ontario Nature Youth Summit and support to the Youth Centre summer camp; and at the post-secondary level with bursaries to students pursuing a career in natural sciences or environmental studies.

Each of these students is clearly on a path the Bursary is pleased to support with $1000 contribution to their post-secondary student account. Each has provided evidence of their appreciation and volunteer or paid work experiences related to the natural environment, as well as their plan for how post-secondary studies relate to, and will contribute to the preservation and improvement of the natural world.

Previous award recipients have continued their education after high school in diverse fields including zoology, ecosystem management, marine biology, environmental sciences and engineering and technology, at both the university and community college level.

It is our pleasure to announce the four recipients of the 2021 Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary.

About the Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Fund

The Nature Bursary fund, which supports the award program, was established in 2007 by Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ members and friends of retired educator Cliff Bennett, for his 75th birthday. Since 2007, more than $18,000 has been awarded to 21 deserving students from high schools in our area.

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