This month, I was proud to be part of an amazing celebration at our museum—a night to acknowledge, through the first Nature Inspiration Awards, some amazingly creative, innovative and forward-thinking people and organisations. All are making a difference in our understanding and appreciation of the natural world.
That is something that we, as Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences, have been doing for more than 150 years—whether it’s through developing galleries and exhibitions; working with partners to create programs that engage and inspire others, or contributing knowledge through our national collections and scientific research and expertise.
It’s been a whirlwind year since the museum conceived and put into place these first annual awards. We were delighted to receive 34 nominations last spring and I know that our jury had a hard time winnowing down the list to the finalists and the winners. Our national media partners, The Walrus and the Globe and Mail, helped share the buzz to collect nominations and recognize the finalists. We look forward to building on this year’s success when our second call for nominations is launched early in 2015.
But before we get there, I want to reflect on some of this year’s finalists and recipients, as they set high standards for future nominations.
The 2014 awards went to Alana Krug-MacLeod, a Saskatoon teen who advocates for action against climate change; Mylène Paquette from Montreal, an ocean adventurer speaking up for marine conservation; Evergreen, a Toronto-based not-for profit that introduces inner-city kids to nature; Earth Rangers from Woodbridge, Ontario, a group that educates schoolchildren about wildlife conservation; and Cascades Inc, of Kingsey Falls in Quebec’s Eastern townships, a company that pioneered the recycling of paper products.
We have produced videos highlighting their accomplishments. All are inspiring and worthy of the award, but they represent just the tip of the iceberg…
Consider that in the Youth category alone, the finalists, along with Alana Krug-Macleod, included Hannah Alper from Toronto, an eco-blogger and motivational speaker; Olivia Clement from Ottawa, a fundraiser and advocate for polar bear conservation; and Miranda Anderson from Belcarra, British Columbia, who makes environmental films. What’s remarkable is their age – two of them aged 11, one aged 15 and one aged 17.
And a glance at the adult finalists shows a surprising diversity of career paths and skills: biologist Christian Artuso with Bird Studies Canada was recognized for his efforts to create a bird atlas for Manitoba; entrepreneur David Katz, from Port Moody British Columbia, has created an innovative company, the Plastic Bank, that helps reduce pollution and at the same time provides income for people in developing countries; and artist Charmaine Lurch through her work with Inner City Angels in Toronto has found inspiration in the natural world with her most recent project focussing on the importance of bees in our ecosystems.
So many great stories, and I haven’t even touched on the not-for-profits! I encourage you to read more about them and all of the finalists for these inaugural awards
So, perhaps you know a corporation, individual, youth or not-for-profit that deserves a nomination for a future Nature Inspiration Award. Let us know about them—and keep an eye out in 2015 for the next round of applications.