Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Forest Therapy Walk

The practice of Forest Therapy was founded through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides, based in California. The founders of this mindful, healing and connective practice were inspired by the Japanese practice of “Shinrin-yoku” which translates as “forest bathing”.

Cataraqui Conservation was the first Conservation Authority to offer a Forest Therapy Program and have an accredited Forest Therapy guide on staff who was trained through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides in 2016. The program has been acclaimed by participants across a wide demographic spectrum, and all Forest Therapy walks fill up fast.

We believe the popularity of these walks is because Forest Therapy is far more immersive than a simple 'walk in the woods.’ The program is an intentional immersion in the natural environment to allow participants the opportunity to slow down and get in touch with their senses. By slowing down and getting out of focusing on their busy minds it allows participants to renew their relationship with themselves, each other and nature. A Forest Therapy walk is a slow, connective experience lasting about two hours and no more than one kilometre with special invitations and sharing circles along the way. Invitations allow participants to connect in whatever way feels right to them. There is no right or wrong way to partake in invitations and sharing; all is welcome. You might find participants sitting, standing or even lying down at different points throughout the walk experience. The benefits of this practice are multifaceted for both one’s physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well being.

Everyone can benefit from Forest Therapy Walks such as, but not limited to, people recovering from illness, youth, active military, veterans, people coping from loss, students, professionals, parents, people looking to better their mental health, first responders and seniors. Anyone who is looking to de-stress, slow down, heal and connect with nature.

Thus far in 2019 alone, more than 200 area residents and school children have benefitted from both public and private Forest Therapy Walks, which have generated more interest in the benefits of nature and the connection to protect it as well as promoting another significant role of Cataraqui Conservation within the broader community.

To learn more about Cataraqui Conservation’s Forest Therapy program visit

This blog post contributed by Katrina Furlanetto, Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, 
General Manager, Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

It can be hard to plan for change. Some changes you see coming, while others catch you off guard. This year’s conference theme, Currents of Change – Inspiring, Creating, Transforming, is very much in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. We challenged speakers to share how they are adapting to change, and they delivered. November’s program is full of examples of innovation and collaboration from conservation authorities, municipalities, Indigenous communities, private sector, environmental groups, and others. The takeaways you’ll gain from the case studies, research, and stories will have you looking at your projects and programs with a fresh eye.

Gain perspective in the session titled The Only Constant is Change, by hearing how conservation authorities and watershed management have evolved over 80+ years of changing political, economic, social, and environmental climes. Then look to the future by taking in presentations on how technology is changing the way we work – including new applications for drones and remote sensing, real-time monitoring, interactive websites, eDNA, and the “internet of things”.

In a time of fiscal restraint, demonstrating the impact and value of our work is essential. In the Measuring Impact session, hear how a municipality is using Key Performance Indicators to keep its climate change programs accountable. Then learn how three conservation authorities are using Return on Investment metrics to build the business case for ecological restoration projects. Other speakers are sharing the results of evaluations of technologies and practices in fields ranging from nutrient management to green infrastructure.

Ultimately, our ability to navigate the shifting currents of our time may depend on our ability to find common ground. In Un-complicating the Complicated, discover how to transcend polarized positions, simplify scientific messages, and update marketing messages. Case studies throughout the program illustrate how to engage familiar and unfamiliar demographic groups in everything from outdoor education to citizen science and stewardship. Two sessions share how municipalities, conservation authorities, and others are advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities through conservation.

This year’s Latornell program reflects the challenges we’re all facing this year. Scan the preliminary program yourself, and you’re sure to find sessions that will inform, educate, and inspire.

This blog post contributed by Jan Ivey, Grand River Conservation Authority, 
2019 Latornell Conservation Symposium Vice Chair

Monday, 3 June 2019

The Ripple Effect – Latornell Leadership Award Nominations Wanted

Leadership isn’t about being at the top. True leaders are driven by passion and purpose, causing a ripple effect through their words, actions and relationships with others to motivate and inspire those around them to cause change for the better.

The environmental sector is blessed with many leaders; it’s a natural fit when the preservation of our natural environment is often juxtaposed against economic growth and other human interests, requiring passionate and caring people to dedicate their personal and professional time towards the things that foster healthier and more sustainable interactions and practices.

This year’s theme, Currents of Change, emphasizes the rapidly changing world that we are living in; where technology is advancing our understanding of the world around us, and how humans both influence – and are influenced by – the natural resources that our existence depends on. Environmental leaders are at the forefront of collecting, synthesizing, and communicating information to expand our understanding of ecology, flooding and erosion hazards, climate, natural resource management, restoration, and many other specialized areas in the environmental sector. These students, community leaders and professionals are the backbone for healthy watersheds, and recognition of their contributions is an important component of our annual symposium through the Latornell Leadership Award.

We’ve been recognizing our Leaders and Pioneers at the Latornell Conservation Symposium since 1999, and past recipients have ranged from students to retirees, from all corners of the province. 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 2019 Latornell Leadership Award is June 28, 2019. You can find all the information and nomination forms on the Latornell website at

This blog post contributed by Moranne McDonnell, Toronto and Region Conservation,
2019 Latornell Leadership Committee Lead

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Growing Through Changing Times

It is often said that the only constant in life is change. With this in mind, I’m pleased to announce that the 26th Annual Latornell Conservation Symposium theme is “Currents of Change : Inspiring, Creating, Transforming”. This theme is timely in that change is happening in all facets of our lives now with greater frequency and speed. Economic, social, environmental and political changes are ever present and highlighted through technology and social media. While change can be negative, it can also be an immense positive enhancement, a way to look at things in a different light, re-examine, re-tool and move onto the challenge at hand.

The 26th Latornell Conservation Symposium will highlight how we adapt to change in our work and how adapting to change helps the people involved with conservation and our communities move the environmental yardstick forward. Through keynote speakers, presentations, case studies and tours, this year’s conference will highlight conservation programs and projects with a focus on new collaborations, new ways of working, communicating the science, Indigenous perspectives and traditional knowledge, inspirational stories, social sciences and behavior change.

The Latornell Conservation Symposium is an annual event. The forum provides an opportunity to learn from each other and provides a forum for practitioners, students, academics, politicians, and non-government organizations to network and discuss challenges and opportunities in the conservation field. It is an opportunity for you to highlight what exciting program or project you are working on or simply how you work towards conservation in an ever changing environment. It is a challenging time but the conference is an exciting opportunity to understand how change impacts on our lives, careers, programs and projects through inspiration, creativity and transformation.

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 we adapt and benefit from change. 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 2019 Latornell Chair, Scott Peck

Friday, 26 October 2018

Mentorship Matters: Building Skills through the Latornell Professional Development Program

The working world is tough. From landing your first job to the ongoing hunt for your ‘dream’ job, we often feel like it’s not easy to compete in today’s working world. This is just as true for the environmental field as for any other sector. Thinking back to the start of your own career journey, wouldn’t it have been great if someone was there to give you a helping hand? A sounding board to guide you and share advice or resources? Or perhaps having someone put in a good word for you would have been more helpful. Even those who are more senior in their roles can often benefit from a refreshing new perspective. Regardless of the specifics, we could all use a little company on the journey down our career path at some point. True to the heart of this, the Latornell Conservation Symposium continues to offer opportunities for environmental and conservation professionals to meet, network and share stories, career insights and passions. Not only do we offer events as part of the conference program, but for almost three years we have hosted events year-round in an effort to bring together environmental professionals with an interest in mentorship and professional development.

Five years ago the Latornell Symposium celebrated its 20th year, and in recognition of this important milestone we launched the Latornell Mentorship Program. Now in its fifth year, this initiative has been rebranded as the Professional Development Program. Our new name underscores our goal of being more inclusive of a diverse environmental sector which includes both new and internationally-trained professionals. However, our vision of connecting professionals within the environmental sector has not changed, and mentorship continues to be a common thread running throughout all the conference. Since the first Latornell Symposium was held in 1993 hundreds of personal and professional connections have been forged amongst dedicated conservationists working within the sector through events like our grant recipient wine and cheese receptions and dedicated professional development sessions. Building on this solid foundation, this year we are excited to announce that we will be joined by Cher Jones – a Social Media Trainer and Personal Branding Coach who will be leading our Thursday morning breakfast session to teach us how to build a professional and polished social media presence. We encourage everyone – especially those who are established in their careers – to join us and develop empowering new skills that help keep us relevant within the modern workforce.

The Professional Development Program is also feverishly working on the details of a winter 2019 snowshoeing and networking outing to be held in the Kingston area. This is the final event planned in a series this year which aims to connect conservation professionals in different parts of the province. Earlier this year, we partnered with BlueDrinks TO and the Toronto Green Community to participate in a Lost Rivers walk through the Toronto Port lands, and hosted a Careers in Conservation Lunch n’ Learn near London with representatives from St. Clair Region Conservation Authority and Credit Valley Conservation. Look out for the details of the winter snowshoeing event on our Linked In group and on the Latornell website, under “General Info/Professional Development Program”.

We hope that you will find a way to contribute to the Latornell Professional Development community, as it provides each of us with a chance to ignite a spark; a chance to grow; and to learn and inspire others. We look forward to seeing you on the 13th of November, on our Linked In group and at future events.

Yours in Conservation,

Jamie Joudrey & Bill Trenouth

Jamie Joudrey is a Natural Heritage Coordinator with Ontario Heritage Trust and Bill Trenouth is a Integrated Water Management Program Manager with Credit Valley Conservation

Monday, 10 September 2018


‘Give a Girl the Right Shoes and She Can Conquer the World’

It was a grade 7 classroom trip to Noisy River that got me hooked on the environment. When an orientation game went awry and I got displaced from my group, I quickly turned it into a survival challenge thinking to myself…..”If I simply follow the river, I will eventually find my way back to my classmates”. Despite being reprimanded for my waywardness, my teacher commended me for using my intuitive orientation skills using the landscape and suggested I might want to consider a career in the environment sector.

Following this first revelation of my love for the environment, following high school I completed a degree in Geography at Brock University hoping that it would land me in some sort of position where I could work with nature. Planner, cartographer, field technician… My options were endless. There was only one challenge. At the time, I was entering a field that was still predominantly filled by men.

So you can imagine my surprise when I was chosen to work as an “Environmentalist” (yes that was my title) with the Federation of Ontario Naturalists to work on a number of different conservation projects. I loved my first job. I got to work with everyone from politicians to biologists to consultants. It was very fulfilling and I knew I had found a career that I was very passionate about and would stay in for some time.

I was a little bit of an oxymoron. I loved the conservation field and getting my hands dirty but I also loved pretty clothes and makeup. I questioned if I would be taken seriously if I entered the room wearing pantyhose, heels and pastel blush. Despite my internal questioning, it didn’t take long before I realized that I did have a place in this sector, heels or flats!

My career over the last almost 30 years has been very diversified….from restoration, to project management, to fundraising to government relations. As each year passed and as I took on new positions I also started to see a diversification in the sector. The meetings I attend now have more women at the tables. The conferences I attend have more women keynotes, and the organizations I work with today have a higher percentage of women than men working for them.

I have many people to thank for my involvement and evolution in this line of work….both men and women….but I can confidently say that working as a woman in this sector has been exceptionally rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

Kim Gavine is the General Manager of Conservation Ontario and has been working as a Conservationist since 1989.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Latornell Steering Committee Member, Kerry Ann Charles, Finds Her Passion

Growing up l lived both on and off reserve, always being proud of who I was but never really knowing what that meant. I have always had a passion for nature and the outdoors and a certain curiosity about how things are all connected. I never would have thought that my inquisitiveness and the connection that I felt to nature would lead me down a path that would present such amazing opportunities for me to learn about my history, my culture and my traditions while also creating a setting for me to share that knowledge with others and embed it in my work.

I have had the privileged of working in my Community for several years and have worn many different hats. This has allowed me the opportunity to learn a wide variety of knowledge and skills and meet a range of interesting and intelligent characters, one of those being Andee Pelan. Andee is a former Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority employee and Latornell Steering Committee Member. She is someone for whom I have a great deal of gratitude and respect. It’s because of her passion as an environmentalist and conservationist and her persistence that I am now writing this blog and sitting as a part of the Latornell Steering Committee.

It was almost a decade ago that I started my environmental career and I met and worked with Andee saving butternut trees and other flora and fauna from the fate of the 407. Not long after this work she provided me with one of my first speaking engagements when she invited me to speak at the Latornell Conservation Symposium in 2010. Being new to the environmental field with little experience and no academic background, I was unaware of the magnitude of this Symposium and what kind of a platform had been presented to me. Intimidated and nervous I muddled my way through my presentation and fled the Nottawasaga grounds. Unbeknown to me at the time, my presentation sparked a great deal of interest in delegates who attended the session and it initiated my networking with non-indigenous governments and organizations. On a couple of occasions, I have since attended this event as both a speaker and a delegate but am one of a handful of Indigenous peoples who have.

Andee often expressed to me over the years that she felt the Indigenous voice was an important component missing in the content as well as the audience at the Latornell Symposium. This coupled with my newfound knowledge about myself and my cultural connections to Mother Earth throughout my Environmental career finally convinced me to give into her requests to become a member of the steering committee. In the Spring of 2017 as a new steering committee member she encouraged me to take advantage of the opportunity to bring the Western Science Conservation World together with the Deep Ways of Knowing and Brilliance of Our Indigenous communities.

As the Latornell Conservation Symposium celebrates its 25th year anniversary and in this time of truth and reconciliation I am honoured to have been offered such a huge platform to invite members of the Indigenous communities out to share our knowledge, traditions and culture with the non-indigenous communities. I also am humbled, grateful as well as hopeful that with the indescribable support that has come from the committee and all of my Networks in the organization of this event it will prove to be meaningful and a ripple effect will be created that will ignite positive change for our seven generations of all Nationalities.

I am super excited to be a part of the 2018 Latornell Conservation Symposium. As a proud Anishnabe Kwe (Frist Nation Women) working in the Environmental field I look forward to the new friendships that will be made, and the opportunity for real reconciliation that will be built on respect, trust, understanding and reciprocity.

Happy Indigenous awareness month and see you November 13-15th at the Nottawasaga Inn, in Alliston, Ontario. Come listen, learn, share, make new friends and be part of history in the making.

Kerry-Ann Charles is a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and an employee of Cambium Aboriginal. She has been working in the Environmental field within her own community as well as with other First Nations Communities since 2009. Kerry-Ann became a member of the Latornell Conservation Symposium organizing committee in the spring of 2017.