Lands to Great Lakes

Lands to Great Lakes

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Latornell Provides Lots of Benefits for Former Student Moderator

From November 21-23, 2017 I had the pleasure of attending the Latornell Conservation Symposium in Alliston, Ontario. From start to finish, it was an incredibly action packed and fulfilling few days. I had been to a Latornell conference during my undergraduate days and loved every minute of it. However, as work brought me to Eastern Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador), I lost touch with this incredible world. I say a world, because being at Latornell feels like you have stepped into a special universe…kind of like COMICON for conservation nerds!

After learning a little bit about the instigator of the Latornell Conservation Symposium, Arthur Latornell, I can see why such a wonderful atmosphere has been fostered. Arthur Latornell believed strongly in the mentorship of students and young professionals involved in natural resource activities. This commitment can be felt within the conference, where there is a deliberate focus on the mentorship of students and young professionals.

I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as a student moderator for the symposium. This role opened up a plethora of experiences that I would have otherwise missed out on. Being a student moderator allowed for unique opportunities to network with presenters and delegates, which facilitated professional development discussions, and the of meeting new friends. In fact, one of my peer student moderators (Cameron Curran, University of Guelph), and I have embarked on a new research study together.

This research study is exploring successes, challenges, and lessons learned with septic maintenance programs in rural municipalities in Ontario. The collaborative research team working on this project is made up of experts from the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations, Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association, Canadian Environmental Law Association, University of Guelph, and Memorial University of Newfoundland. This project has also received endorsement from the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, as well as funding from the Rural Policy Learning Commons. Latornell 2017 served as an important venue where this team was able to connect and discover our mutual interests in the role septic system maintenance has on surface and groundwater supplies in Ontario.

Many other great experiences were had at the 2017 Latornell Symposium, including presenting during the student poster competition. I was able to relay my findings related to source water protection in rural Ontario to a wide array of practitioners and academics in the conservation field. I even won third prize in the competition.

I am excited to come back next year for the 25th Annual Latornell Conservation Symposium. As a student of interdisciplinary studies, I look forward to a holistic discussion on initiatives to understand, protect, and restore water, and land resources.

Thank you to the 2017 Latornell Conservation Symposium Steering Committee for giving me the opportunity to participate!

Sarah Minnes is a Doctoral Candidate at Memorial University of Newfoundland, a graduate of the Rural Planning and Development MSc program at the University of Guelph, and a registered professional planner with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute. Her doctoral research explores the implications of source water protection policies in Ontario for rural areas.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Announcing the 2018 Latornell Conservation Symposium Theme

Welcome to Our 2018 Latornell Conservation Symposium

The 25th Annual Latornell Conservation Symposium theme is “Lands to Great Lakes - Relationship Status: It’s Complicated”. I have lived my life in southern Ontario and have gone to school, worked, raised two children, camped, canoed, windsurfed and enjoyed all that the Lands and Great Lakes have to offer. I love it here and I bet you do too. The theme of this year’s symposium is intended to examine our relationship with the lands and lakes, how we live with them and address the associated environmental challenges.

At the international, federal, provincial and municipal government levels, a great deal of effort is ongoing to protect and improve the environmental features of the Lands and Great Lakes. These initiatives to understand, protect and restore water and land resources include, as examples; land use, natural heritage and infrastructure planning, watershed and subwatershed planning, stewardship, stormwater management and low impact development and adapting and mitigating climate change. How are we progressing on these issues and what else needs to be done and how can we do it to ensure we all live with healthy Lands and Great Lakes.

The Latornell Conservation Symposium is an annual event that provides a forum for practitioners, students, academics, politicians, and non-government organizations to network and discuss challenges and opportunities in the conservation field as well as learn about new tools, techniques and strategies for natural resources management in Ontario.

We are very excited about this year’s symposium and we hope that you and your colleagues are just as excited and respond to our call for presentations. The Latornell Conservation Symposium website and newsletter provide a range of details on this year’s symposium and topics and how our relationship with these issues can be, well, complicated. Submit your proposals via the website and we are looking for presentations, workshops, training and tour proposals.

To stay up to date on all the Latornell Conservation Symposium details, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in November

Scott Peck,
Latornell Symposium Chair

Blog provided by the 2018 Latornell Chair, Scott Peck

Friday, 20 October 2017

Are We on Track to a Water Crisis in Ontario?

There are two important conditions influencing water in Ontario today  – climate change and rapid urbanization.

Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns in Ontario have already reduced river flows, warmed surface waters and impacted wetlands. These impacts will continue, and other threats to environmental and public health are expected to materialize including increased flooding and reduced quantity and quality of drinking water.

Managing impacts on water, water infrastructure and water related natural features as we adapt to a changing climate will be a significant challenge.

As well, Ontario – particularly in the Greater Toronto Area - continues to grow  necessitating watershed planning to guide this growth to lessen the impact on both surface flows and groundwater recharge as well as natural systems.

This leads us to ask - are we on track to a water crisis here in Ontario?

We’re going to explore this topic in a discussion panel on Day 3 of the 2017 Latornell Conservation Symposium which takes place November 21 – 23 at the Nottawasaga Inn near Barrie, Ontario.

Moderated by popular TVO Host, Steve Paikin, the panel will explore questions we all need to be asking:

What is the state of our water in Ontario – there are many partners in our watersheds monitoring and reporting on water quality and quantity. Where are we at today? How is water allocated? Who controls it?

Do we value water enough? Compared to other regions, Ontario seems to have quite a bit of water however Canadians are the second biggest water users next to the USA and as a result, are we pricing water the way we should be?

Over the past year or so there has been quite a debate about the level of fees being applied through the provincial Permit to Take Water (PTTW) program. Water charges should encourage water conservation and fairness among all water takers. Does the current cost do that?

Another question we need to ask ourselves is:

What more do we need to do to protect it for the future?

Sustainable water resources are needed daily for personal use, for use in all economic sectors and, of course, to ensure resilient ecosystems which help us to adapt to the impacts of climate change and rapid urbanization.

As our population continues to grow, will we have enough water for all our uses?

We hope you’ll join us at the Latornell Conservation Symposium later this fall and hear what water experts and major users have to say.

This blog post contributed by Deb Martin-Downs, CAO Credit Valley Conservation, Latornell Steering Committee Member

Monday, 25 September 2017

Come for the Conference, Stay for the Food!

It’s fair to say that the Latornell Conservation Symposium is built on a foundation of three solid pillars - information sharing; networking; and great food! Each year, our host facility, the Nottawasaga Inn and Conference Centre in Alliston, creates a delicious and delectable menu that never ceases to please. This year will be no exception, with their continued commitment to source locally grown food and deliver new meal ideas and flavour combinations. 

Perhaps for lunch, the broccoli and cranberry salad with red onions and pumpkin seeds will catch your interest, followed by a corn crusted pork loin with caramelized onions and arugula pesto sandwich. And maybe for dinner, you’ll be queuing up to enjoy the carved, slow roasted beef with a side of vegetable succotash. Or if seafood is more your thing, how about white fish cakes with garlic aioli or a fillet of roast salmon with carrot and leek julienne and maple glaze?

And don’t think our vegetarian and food sensitive delegates have been left out in the cold. In our survey feedback we’ve heard a growing demand for more substantial vegetarian and gluten/dairy free dishes, and the Nottawasaga Inn has responded! A few of the items lined up this year include vegan rice paper salad rolls filled with a delectable array of flavour combinations; baked corn pasta with spinach tomatoes and mushrooms; and layered vegetables with refried beans and a corn tortilla crust! If it’s cold out, you could always warm up with some freshly made leek and potato soup too.

The Gala Banquet evening this year has produced a menu that showcases a variety of indigenous recipes you’re sure to enjoy. A veritable buffet of delicious options, including sumac rubbed smoked pork loin; three sister soup; summer squash with red onions and fresh herbs; as well as roasted yams and potato salad with Prairie mustard. Top it all off with delectable desserts, including pumpkin pie, maple pecan flan, wild rice pudding, carrot and walnut cake, and the list goes on!

Come for the conference, stay for the food! Supporting local growers and reducing our environmental impact is important to the Latornell Steering Committee, and we’re thrilled with the Nottawasaga Inn’s commitment to pursue these same ideals.

If you can’t wait to enjoy what the Nottawasaga Inn’s is offering up this November, here’s a teaser!



1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium yam, peeled and chopped
40 oz vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot on medium heat cook the onions in the oil.
When the onions are translucent add the garlic, and ginger. Lower heat, cook about 4 minutes.
Add carrots, yam and vegetable stock, bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer. Cook until carrots are nice and soft, about 25 minutes.
With an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot!

This blog post contributed by Katie Jane Harris, Kawartha Conservation and Latornell Symposium Committee Member

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Do You Want to Attend Latornell for Free? Apply for a Grant!

The Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant was established in the memory of Art Latornell to help students and active members of the conservation community attend the symposium.  Grants include registration for the symposium, meals and up to two nights’ accommodation at the Nottawasaga Inn.

Grants are available for students, individuals who work for, or are affiliated with, an Ontario not-for profit/community conservation organization (e.g., intern or contract employee), and people who are looking for employment in the conservation field.

Since 2002, almost 300 people have received a grant to attend the Latornell Conservation Symposium. Smera Sukumar from Ontario Nature was one of those lucky people; she received a grant last year.  Smera happily agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her experience with the Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant Program.   

Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your position at Ontario Nature?
I completed a BSc. Zoology at the University of Guelph, followed by a MSc. Biodiversity & Conservation at the University of Leeds, England. My thesis focused on foraging strategies of bats along urban waterways. My role at Ontario Nature as a Conservation Science Technician includes involvement in citizen science programs, as well as assisting with management of our nature reserves across the province.

What initially interested you in the Latornell Conservation Symposium and its grant program?
I heard it was a great event to attend to network with other environmental professionals, as well as learn about a wide variety of topics in this sector. Working for an environmental charity, opportunities for professional development are encouraged, and are made possible by grant programs like this.

After successfully applying for a grant, are there any tips or tricks for the application process that you can provide to those interested this year?
I would recommend including how you will apply what you learn from the Symposium in your job and how you can educate others in your organization, or through public outreach. With only two essay questions, you really need to make yourself stand out. Be sure to highlight how the theme of this year’s conference is applicable to your job and/or interests, referencing sessions you would like to attend.

Aside from the obvious financial perks, what benefits do you feel like you received as a grant recipient?
The grant recipients attend a wine and cheese with other recipients as well as board members of the Conservation Symposium. This is a great opportunity to network one-on-one with high ranking members of various organizations including non-profit, conservation authorities, private consultancies and the provincial and federal government.

Let’s say someone is attending the Symposium for the first time this year, how can they make the most out of their ‘Latornell experience’?
Networking can be very nerve wracking, be sure to take advantage of the ample networking opportunities offered at the Symposium! One goal I had for myself was to connect with 5 people per day. Don’t forget to network with people from a variety of sectors and different levels of experience. Peers can be valuable connections, especially when organizing events and campaigns.

Finally, how has attending the Symposium, either as a grant recipient or as a delegate, helped to further your career and/or the work of Ontario Nature?
The Symposium made me more confident with networking and helped me build the connections I have in the environmental sector today. It also exposed me to new ideas and research being done across Ontario. Various partner organizations with citizen science projects presented at the Symposium, allowing me to learn more about their work and sparked ideas of new ways we can work together in the future.

Don’t miss this excellent opportunity and apply for a grant today! We are accepting applications for the 2017 Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant Program until September 22, 2017. For information on how to apply for a grant or the program itself, visit our website:

Blog post contributed by Smera Sukumar, Ontario Nature

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Insights From A Past Grant Recipient, By Bernadeta Szmudrowska

"From November 15-17, 2016, I had the honour of attending the Latornell Conservation Symposium thanks to the support of the Latornell Three Day Grant. As a recipient, the grant provided me the opportunity to participate, network and exchange knowledge with like-minded conservation professionals. Furthermore, attending the symposium allowed me to apply my educational background, as well as reconnect with past classmates, professors and coworkers.
The presentations delivered by the keynote speakers were substantive, engaging, and inspired the audience about the possibilities of green infrastructure implementation to enhance our watersheds. The forum enabled attendees to network, discuss and reflect upon the various challenges and opportunities pertaining to green infrastructure in Ontario.
Attending the Latornell Conservation Symposium was a priceless experience and has helped me feel more confident about networking and sharing knowledge with others. If you are interested in applying for the symposium grant, I recommend working closely with colleagues so that they may give you advice and help refine important details to include in the grant application. I also recommend preparing the grant application well in advance to allow for the time necessary to make modifications and improvements.
The opportunity to attend the Symposium as a grant recipient allowed me to surround myself with environmental professionals that have devoted their lives to the type of conservation work I enjoy and admire. Participating in 2016, attending the sessions and networking with professionals led me to a job opportunity in the Integrated Water Management department at Credit Valley Conservation Authority.
By spending an intense three days at the Symposium learning about conservation challenges, new research developments and techniques, and participating in innovative idea sharing, you will make new professional connections, and you never know who you are going to meet and where those associations will lead you in the future.
Thank you Latornell Conservation Symposium Steering Committee for giving me the opportunity to participate in the 2016 symposium".
Blog post contributed by Bernadeta Smudrowska

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Take Us To Your Leaders – Latornell Leadership Award Nominations Wanted

We’re very lucky in the environmental sector. We’re surrounded by more than our fair share of committed and passionate colleagues and volunteers tackling some of the biggest environmental problems facing Ontario. They are monitoring conditions, building the science, developing strategies, and spreading the word.

They’re on the frontlines of flooding, stewardship and biodiversity protection. They’re working with swans, turtles, frogs and fish. And, many hours are spent by both professionals and volunteers teaching kids and teenagers as well as mentoring young professionals in the field.

These professionals and volunteers are the building blocks for healthy watersheds and we feel it’s important that our conservation community recognize their efforts with the annual Latornell Leadership Award.

We’ve been recognizing our Leaders and Pioneers at the Latornell Conservation Symposium since 1999. Their ranks include professional and volunteer biologists, educators, ecologists, scientists, interpreters, watershed managers, birders and photographers.

Our oldest recipient is Lou Wise, who - well into his 90s - was still flying over and photographing disappearing landscapes in order to promote greater stewardship. Our youngest is Scott Gillingwater, a species at risk herpetologist whose work includes some of the longest term research in Canada on the spiny shoftshell, blandings and spotted turtles, queensnake and other declining reptile species.

The Latornell award recipients have come from all corners of the province and have been nominated by Conservation Authorities, Ministries, nonprofits, businesses and volunteer groups.

We value the work these professionals and volunteers are doing and we want to thank them. But we need you to tell us who they are. The deadline for nominating someone for the 2017 Latornell Leadership Award is June 23, 2017. You can find all the information and nomination forms on the Latornell website.

Help us to find and thank our next Latornell Leaders.

This blog post contributed by Jane Lewington, Conservation Ontario, Latornell Steering Committee