The OTIS Award is a way to recognize businesses, organizations, individuals, and youth in the Battle River and Sounding Creek watersheds who are OuTstanding In Stewardship. Stewardship is taking action to care for our watershed, including the land, air, water, and biodiversity. It also supports healthy communities, including our culture and economy, now and into the future.
The OTIS award is named after the star character in the book series “Otis and Friends: Environmental Adventures.” This series was written by Ponoka high-school students in our Caring for our Watersheds Contest. Otis and his friends help people take action to create a better watershed. OTIS is also an acronym for OutsTanding In Stewardship! Otis, his authors, and the OTIS Award Winners are examples for us all.
Nominate someone you know for the 2020 OTIS Award!
Pres has been an active member of the Viking community for over 50 years, where he worked as a pharmacist. His love for the Mountain Bluebird, whose prairies population had been in steady decline since the 40’s, led him to become their greatest caretaker and steward. Since 1977, Pres has built and installed over 1,000 bluebird houses on over 300 miles (482km) of country roads. Every year he cleans and repairs the houses, as well as monitoring the number of bluebirds, of eggs laid, of chicks hatched and the numbered banded. This huge service to the bluebirds has helped bring the population of the bluebirds back up, and contributed to our science and data on this beautiful bird of the watershed.
Just outside of Bawlf, Alberta, you can find a farmer doing things a little differently than status quo. Brenda Bohmer, matriarch of Brenlea Farms, was reflecting on her future on the farm and land she grew up on when she made the choice to begin restoring and reclaiming sensitive wetland and riparian areas on her farm. This land has been in Brenda’s family for generations, and she made a serious commitment to working towards making her practices more sustainable. Through a combination of taking cropland out of production, planting native trees and grasses, and amending soil in the adjacent areas, Brenda has begun the multi-year process of reclaiming some 20 acres of sensitive wetlands and riparian areas on her farm. Now, over 30 different species of plants grow on land that used to only produce one annually.
Over the past several years, the City of Wetaskiwin has undertaken several initiatives to improve the watershed.
Low impact development techniques were used on the reconstruction of Main Street when upgrades were needed in 2017. Rain gardens have since been installed in other parts of the city, with others planned for the near future.
In 2019, the Plastic Checkout Bag Bylaw came into effect in Wetaskiwin, keeping these bags out of the landfill, and out of the watershed. The City of Wetaskiwin is only the second community in Alberta to implement a plastic checkout bag ban.
The Grove Grizzlies are a Junior Forest Wardens club based out of Spruce Grove. When a rural landowner was looking for help with a tree planting project along Bigstone Creek, the Grove Grizzlies stepped up to lend a hand. Working together with the landowner, the Battle River Watershed Alliance, and the Agroforestry & Woodlot Extension Society, around 10,000 native trees, willows, and shrubs were planted at the site. This creek restoration work will help improve the health of Bigstone Creek, which is a tributary of the Battle River. Even though Spruce Grove is outside of the watershed, we think the Grove Grizzlies deserve “honorary watershed residents” status for their support of stewardship actions in our region.
Individual: Don and Marie Ruzicka – Leading by Example
Business/Organization: Nica’s Hair Salon – Reduce Salon Waste
Youth: Wainwright Girl Guides – Park Clean-up and Beautification
Farm: Tin Forest Farm – Caretakers of Farm Wetlands
Individual: Tom Tomaszewski – Conservation Volunteer
Business/Organization: Buffalo Lake Naturalist Club – Sharing their love of nature
Youth: Katelynn Cook – Environmental Educator
Farm: MSW Farms – Beneficial Agricultural Practices
Individual: Susan Ellis – Pigeon Lake Leadership
Business/Organization: Chinook Applied Research Association- Agricultural Best Management
Youth: Lougheed Colony School- Tree Stewardship
Individual: Roy and Judy Louis-Water Ceremony Leadership
Business/Organization: Blue Dot Camrose- City Declaration of Environmental Rights
Youth: Mina Shin and Brooklyn Green- Greening Golf Courses
Individual: Midge Lambert- Watershed restoration
Business/Organization: County of Vermilion River,- Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS)
Youth: EcoVision- Local Food production
Individual: Mike Black-Battle Lake Stewards
Youth: Maven Boddy and the Golden Prairie 4H club- Riparian Restoration
Business/Organization: Lacombe County-Environmental Management
Individual: Carol Wilson- Stewardship Advocate
Youth Category: Kaitlin Lomas, Katie and Vicki Wyering, Melissa Gartner-Otis and Friends Book series authors
Business/Organization: Darcy and Candace Goodrich, Pure Stock County Farms- Eco-farmers