WANTED: Nominees for our Outstanding in Stewardship Award!

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 can be defined as “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.” To us, a steward takes action in making our watershed a better place to live for all life, and the life of future generations.

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 2019 OTIS Award!


2018 OTIS Award Winners

Individual: Don and Marie Ruzicka — Leading by Example

Marie and Don moved to Sunrise Farm, northwest of Killam, with their three children in 1983. They farmed conventionally until 1995 when a course in Holistic Management changed their lives, and how they came to view the land. They believe that good land management results in healthy plant communities and nutritious farm products. There has been a resurgence of biodiversity on their farm as native grasslands and wetlands are restored, and habitat buffer areas are planted.

Don and Marie were involved in the formation of the Iron Creek Watershed Improvement Society. They have also worked on many educational initiatives to connect youth to the land and to farming. They have made a tangible difference on the land they care for, and the many people they have inspired.

The Schamber family (parents and 4 children) group together on their farm.

Business: Tin Forest Farm — Caretakers of Farm Wetlands

Alana and Justin Schamber purchased land near Wetaskiwin to start a farm and build a home for their growing family in 2010. They have maintained the farm’s wetlands, which cover about 1/3rd of the property, preserving the ecological integrity of the surface water and creek that run through this area. They have worked with ALUS to fence off wetlands to exclude livestock. They also work to raise awareness about local food and connect people to the land through farm tours and kids camps. The Schamber family see themselves as caretakers of the planet, ensuring that what happens on their farm is good for the environment, the animals, and the people.

Organization: Nica’s Hair Salon — Reduce Salon Waste

Nica’s Hair Salon is a family run business in Camrose. Owner Lori Kushnerik hated seeing the waste the salon produced, especially the harmful chemicals which would go to the landfill or down the drain and into the water system.

Working with Green Circle Salon- a beauty product waste diversion company- she is now able to send away foils, colour tubes, papers and plastics for recycling. Not only that, but hair clippings are reused to create “Hair Brooms”, which are used during oil spills to clean the water.

Nica’s is an example to businesses that we can all take steps to be stewards of our watershed.

Salon Owner holds bag of chemical waste
Girl Guides of Canada Logo

Youth: WAinwright girl guides clubs — Park clean-up and beautification

The Wainwright Girl Guides clubs help girls challenge themselves, find their voice, meet new friends, and make a difference in the world. And these Guides are certainly making a difference!

The group, which includes many units of ages 5-18, does an annual litter-pickup at Bevans Nature Park, helping to keep their town clean, beautiful, and healthy. They take regular nature hikes and study the natural world while working to protect it. In the past few years, they have helped build a Bluebird Trail near Provost, and build Bat houses for Arm Lake.

These girls are not only taking a hands-on approach to making their home litter-free, but they are supporting biodiversity and being leaders in their community

past winners

2017 OTIS Award winners

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

2016 OTIS Award Winners

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

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