Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

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

Monday, 24 April 2017

Latornell Mentorship and ELB Field N' Meal Day

Are you a budding young professional and still waiting to meet that person who will inspire you, ignite a spark in you, or help you open that crucial first door for yourself as you embark upon a long and fruitful career path?

Maybe you have been in the field for a while. Think back; did somebody teach you something, take a chance on you, or share with you something invaluable: their time? Perhaps they shared their experience. Imagine being given the opportunity to do that for a newcomer to your profession. Would you seize such an opportunity if it presented itself? As someone who has benefited personally from the rich legacy of Art Latornell, I know that he would have, and now I would like to do the same.

Four years ago, we launched the Latornell Mentorship Program. Mentorship has always been a common thread running throughout all Latornell Symposia. Since the first event was held in 1993 hundreds of personal and professional connections have been forged amongst dedicated conservationists working within the sector. Indeed; the Latornell logo itself depicts both a tree - symbolic of conservation and the environment – and within it, the silhouettes of a young professional listening to what appears to be a more experienced mentor. Personally, I consider the tree to also represent knowledge, and as I transition from the left to right side of this image over the course of my own career, I place hope in the idea that this tree will bear the fruits of wisdom for me to share with successive young professionals.

In the spirit of Art Latornell – our conference namesake – we strive to provide young professionals in the conservation and environmental sector with career networking and mentorship opportunities. We welcome partnerships with external groups that share our overarching goals and passion for youth professional development.

We are excited to announce our upcoming Field N’ Meal Day, a joint effort between the Latornell Mentorship team and the Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity (ELB). It will feature free food, a guided tour of some local pond restoration projects, and fantastic networking opportunities for the full spectrum of career professionals.

What: Latornell Mentorship and ELB Field N’ Meal Day. Guided tour, FREE BBQ, and great networking!
Where: Terra Cotta Conservation Area (14452 Winston Churchill Blvd, Terra Cotta, ON)
When: Sunday, June 11th, 2017. 2:00 – 6:00 pm (approx.)
Why: To meet great, like-minded professionals and to build bridges throughout the conservation and environmental community!
Who Should Come: Anyone interested in the environmental, conservation or related sectors
How Much: Zip. Zero. Zilch. Absolutely free.

While the event is completely free, we do ask that you pre-register by June 4th so that we can make sure we have enough food! Registration can be done through the following link:

We hope that you will recognize and seize this opportunity for what it is: a chance to ignite a spark; a chance to grow; a chance to bear fruit. See you on June 11th.

Yours in Conservation,
Bill Trenouth

Bill Trenouth is a Water Resources Specialist at Credit Valley Conservation

Monday, 27 March 2017

Sharing the Wealth

One of the best things to come out of Latornell is the sharing of information. In our conference surveys, delegates tell us that when they're back at the office, they share new tools, techniques and strategies for natural resources management that they heard about at the conference, and often incorporate changes based on this new information.

But more than just the learning from the sessions, Latornell offers the opportunity to start new collaborations. When you consider that our audience is about 40% Conservation Authority staff, 10% students, 13% consulting, 13% Province and 9% NGOs, Latornell provides a forum for practitioners, students, academics, government, and non-government organizations across Ontario to, network. How many LinkedIn requests do you get after the conference?

However, sharing information is easier said than done, when we return to our work and are not the originators of the information. At CVC we debated ways and means of sharing, including running a mini-Latornell with the CVC presentations given at the conference. Given that CVC often has many presentations in the program we could be looking at a half day or full day of presentations which is a bit too much additional time.

One of our staff developed a conference report-back form to document key messages and links to resources. It is valuable but lacks the interactive component and relies on the audience making time to read it.

The most successful method we have found is our “CVC Presents” – a series of lunchtime seminars where Latornell (and other) presentations are given again to a varied audience. Here we have the opportunity to hear the whole presentation, ask questions and staff can attend during their lunch hour and then get back to work. Information overload does not occur and the cost remains reasonable.

How do you share? Tell us what works for you.

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

Friday, 3 March 2017

Exciting Latornell 2017 Announcement

Welcome to our 2017 Latornell Conservation Symposium

This year Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, and to reflect that, the theme for the 2017 Latornell Symposium is Succession. In the environmental field, we all identify succession with natural or ecological succession as one species changes to another species in a field or forest, or a particular area of habitat. But we also see succession in other aspects of our industry: succession of employees as they enhance their knowledge, and fill the roles of retiring colleagues; policy and legislation that evolves over time with new research and new realities; and changing attitudes of the public, policy makers, and scientists that lead to changing efforts of protection, or enjoyment. These are all real aspects of succession that we are seeing in our daily work, and this year for Latornell we want to explore and share them.

We hope people respond enthusiastically to our call for presentations. Check out our website and newsletter for more details on the wide range of Succession topics we are hoping to include at the symposium. Submit your proposals via the website. We’re looking for presentations, workshops, training, and tour proposals.

And to stay up to date on symposium details, program, speakers, etc., sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Stay tuned!

Blog provided by the 2017 Latornell Chair, Sean Watt