OTIS Award



OTIS: OutsTanding IStewardship

Have You Seen OTIS? 
Are You OTIS?

We need help finding citizens in our watershed who are OutsTanding IStewardship!


 The OTIS Award is a way to recognize businesses, individuals and youth in the Battle River and Sounding Creek Watersheds who are OutsTanding IStewardship.  Stewardship can be defined as “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving”. To us, a steward is taking 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 the Caring for our Watersheds Contest. Otis and his friends help people take action on creating a better watershed. OTIS also is an acronym for OutsTanding In Stewardship! Otis, his authors, and the OTIS Award Winners are an example for us all. 

Fill out this form to nominate someone you know for the 2018 OTIS Award!


2017 OTIS Award Winners:

Individual Category: Tom Tomaszewski

Tom is a founding member of the Camrose and District Fish and Game Association, and lead the group to purchase Pleasure Island- 122 acres of land three miles east of Camrose. Tom's vision was a place where everyone including the youth, seniors, and people with disabilities could fish, hike, view wildlife, or just enjoy the beauty of the land.  Thanks to Tom's leadership, many improvements have been made to the property including; a 2112-foot walkway (including two bridges), a fishing dock, a washroom, benches and picnic tables, and the planting of several hundred trees. Tom has helped install purple martin houses throughout Camrose, as well as the swallow and blue bird houses at Pleasure Island. Tom's love for wildlife, his desire to make Pleasure Island accessible and open to everyone, and the hundreds of volunteer hours he has contributed have made the City of Camrose an example of land and wildlife conservation.

Business Category: MSW Farms

MSW Farms is a family-owned and operated farm located along the Battle River north-west of Ponoka. Owners Mark and Tina Stewart have undertaken a number of stewardship projects including 4 off-site watering systems and over 2km of fencing along the river. These projects help remove livestock pressure from the riverbanks, allowing riparian plants to improve water quality, protect fish habitat, and prevent soil erosion. The Stewarts have also planted nearly 7,000 trees, with the help of Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society. Trough these actions, MSW Farms has demonstrated how agricultural practices and watershed stewardship go hand-in-hand.

Organization Category: Buffalo Lake Naturalist Club

The Buffalo Lake Naturalists Club, based out of Stettler, was formed in 1973. They work to encourage local Albertans to increase their appreciation and knowledge of the natural world.  The club hosts a variety of activities which are open to the public, including monthly presentations, field trips, and outdoor activities. They also promote their message through a variety of communication channels.  The club also takes part in conservation and monitoring projects such as the Christmas Bird Count, and butterfly inventories, and are Caretakers for several Important Bird Areas. Members of the Buffalo Lake Naturalists are helping steward our watersheds, as well as educate and engage new stewards. Connect with them on their Facebook page.

Youth Category: Katelynn Cook

Katelynn is an Environmental Science student at the University of Alberta, Augustana campus. She has passion and skills to take people into the natural world and support them to connect with and appreciate nature. Katelynn has volunteered in numerous school clubs and programs, proving her commitment to stewardship. She has volunteered to take youth on multi-day canoe trips, participated in beaver monitoring project, and has designed and delivered environmental education programs for families and youth. Katelynn is helping to inspire the next generations of environmental leaders, as well as walk lightly on the earth while enjoying all its beauty.





2016 OTIS Award Winners:

 Individual Category: Susan Ellis

Susan Ellis has worked tirelessly for many years as President (and now Executive Director) of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association and member of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan Steering Committee. As a part-time lake resident herself, Susan’s love for the lake, its watershed, and its people is evident in her care and dedication in spreading the message of lake stewardship in the Pigeon Lake watershed. Susan believes that everyone has a part to play. Her efforts have been instrumental in connecting with lake residents and stakeholders, asking for their input, and giving them the tools they need to take action in their own backyards. She has played a key role in ensuring that lake stewardship actions are based on the best science and social science available, and that this information is shared with lake residents and stakeholders so that everyone is on the same page. Through Susan’s work, collective stewardship action in the Pigeon Lake watershed is encouraged on an ongoing basis.


Business/Organization Category: Chinook Applied Research Association 

CARA a non -profit society established in 1979, is a producer-directed society dedicated to expanding agricultural research activities in the Special Areas. CARA provides research, application, and extension programs that foster healthy and sustainable livestock and crop management. Theses programs include riparian health, shelterbelt workshops, off-site watering systems inventory, soil health, manure management, and biological control of weed species, and Environmental Farm Plans. CARA helps to provide landowners and producers manage their land and operations to ensure a productive business and ensure healthy land.



Youth Category: Lougheed Colony School

The students at the Lougheed Colony School have taken great pride and responsibility in planting and caring for their new trees. Through a small science grant the students were able to purchase the trees, which were planted in their playground area. The school wanted to plant the trees to help the local environment, including cleaning the air and providing homes to birds. The school also looks forward to the windbreak and shade, as well as the aesthetic value and artistic inspiration the trees will provide. The students have proven their stewardship ethic by watering and weeding the trees to ensure their longevity, and are proud of doing their part to protect their environment.



 2015 OTIS Award Winners:

Individual Category: Roy and Judy Louis

Roy and Judy Louis are members of the Samson Cree Nation. Roy is from a family of leadership and former President of the Indian Association of Alberta. Roy is a co-founding member of Peace Hills Trust Company and Peace Hills General Insurance that are now into their 30th year. Judy is a highly motivated, high-energy educational consultant with a demonstrated track record for fostering learning and promoting multicultural diversity. Both have received awards for their leadership in innovative approaches to education and the promotion of cultural diversity and cultural awareness. Roy and Judy’s dream was to host the Battle River Water Ceremony for four years. Their dream was realized in 2015 when, after four years, the Bend in the River water ceremony was complete. It represents an act of incredible cultural stewardship demonstrating how water, earth and sky are connected. 

Business/Organization Category: Blue Dot Camrose

"...the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known" - Carl Sagan

The goal of the national Blue Dot movement is to add “Right to Live in a Healthy Environment” to the Canadian constitution and creation of a shared sense of responsibility and gratitude for our home. It recognizes the belief in basic environmental rights – clean water, clean air, healthy food, sanitation, healthy biodiversity and proper waste management.

Blue Dot Camrose worked with Camrose City Council to see a declaration on the right to a healthy environment be unanimously adopted on October 5, 2015.  The City of Camrose became the first city in Alberta to do so, and one of 106 municipalities (as of January 2016) across Canada. Working together, Camrose wants to build on local initiatives to foster the community’s connection to place and to ensure a healthy environment in Camrose and Canada for this generation and those to come.


Youth Category: Mina Shin and Brooklyn Green

Avid golfers, Mina and Brooklyn from Ponoka were worried about what effects pesticides sprayed on the course would have on their watershed. As part of their Caring for our Watershed project proposal, they researched the effects of pesticides and solutions to reduce them.  They found that birds are natural insecticides, eating many of the pesky insects that golfers dislike.   To build awareness of this topic the girls were present at the golf course spa event to give away information cue cards, cash wash coupons and natural beauty products. They also held a draw for a bird house. They hoped that the information and products would help people become more aware of what they use at home.

 With help from local businesses and family, Mina and Brooklyn built 75 bird houses to put up at the two local golf courses (one house at each of the 55 holes plus extra) to encourage the natural reduction of unwanted insects.  The golf courses were happy to be involved and support these young stewards. Mina and Brooklyn are happy to see their ideas in action and look forward to enjoying a round of golf with more beautiful birds on the course, and less pesticides in their watershed. 

2014 OTIS Award Winners:

Individual Category: Midge Lambert
Midge Lambert moved to the Battle River Valley near the Ferry Point crossing 14 years ago. She has since been interested and active in helping preserve the integrity of the river and its greater watershed.  Midge was the spearhead in initiating the Ferry Point Reach Riparian Restoration project which has resulted in 8 completed riparian restoration projects, preserving the majority of the reach.  She was on the restoration project working committee and actively involved in several community events.  Midge is committed to protecting Alberta’s natural spaces and working together on a watershed scale.

Business/Organization Category: County of Vermilion River, Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS)
Since 2010, Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) have brought conservation to the forefront in the County of Vermilion River by empowering farmers and ranchers to continue to utilize beneficial land management for their specific needs and wishes.

Projects within the County of Vermilion River include the restoration of native vegetative cover, the enhancement and restoration of wetlands, planting of perennial cover on sensitive lands, establishment of native pollinating plants to increase habitat for native pollinating species, creation and expansion of riparian buffers and vegetative zones, reforestation, the establishment of nesting structures for waterfowl, and the protection of native Parkland Prairie ecosystems and existing shelterbelts.

They Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) recognizes and rewards farmers and ranchers for the role they play in creating healthy, sustainable landscapes vital to healthy human populations.

Youth Category: EcoVision
EcoVision is a club out of Lacombe Composite High School whose purpose is to grow student leaders through student led projects.  EcoVision strives to enhance the environment, education opportunities and their community.  A few of their accomplishments include building a geodesic dome greenhouse on the school grounds and installing a 6.0kW solar array. Most recently a sub-committee of the group have established a Aquaponics system to grow tilapia which will be used in the school cafeteria and sold within the Lacombe community. This sub-committee named LEAFS (Lacombe Education Aquaponics Food System) are producing local food thereby reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and are reusing the water from the tilapia tanks to water the plants in the greenhouse.


2013 OTIS Award Winners:

Youth Category: Maven Boddy and the Golden Prairie 4H club
The Golden Prairie 4H club wanted to do a stewardship project that would help the Battle River. Through conversations with staff at the Battle River Watershed Alliance they decided that they would do a riparian restoration project to plant trees along the river to reduce erosion, provide animal habitat and improve water quality.

Maven Boddy, a natural leader amongst the team entered the Caring for our Watersheds Contest using the riparian restoration project as her idea for how to improve her watershed. Maven won 1st place in the 2013 contest. Maven and the 4H club used the Caring for our Waterhseds implementation funds and the Victory Canola 4H funding to cover the costs for the tree planting and riparian health assessments.

After a canoe trip down the river to learn more about the water and the riparian area, the 4H club conducted a field day to plant over 200 trees and shrubs. They also invited local experts to the site to set-up a monitoring project so that they can see how the site changes over time.

Individual Category: Mike Black
Mike has been a committed volunteer and ecological steward of the Mount Butte Natural Area for many years.  His efforts help protect the land and water around Battle Lake, the head-waters of the Battle River, thereby improving the entire watershed. 

Mike leads many interpretive walks at Mount Butte, enhancing public understanding of, and commitment to, the area.  Mike is an active member of the Battle Lake Watershed Synergy Group and Battle Lake Natural Area Preservation Society, working to foster communication between the public, industry, and municipal and provincial governments for the preservation of the area.


Business/Organization Category:Lacombe County
Lacombe County is striving to be a leader in environmental management. In April 2013, they completed their first State of the Environment Report (SOE). This report provides a snapshot of the current condition of the environment in Lacombe County and the pressures that impact it. Using the SOE report as a baseline, Lacombe County developed their first Environmental Policy, which was adopted by the Lacombe County Council in July 2013. The next step is to develop an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the County. This document will be shaped by the data found in the SOE, the data gathered by the community, and by balancing the social and economic needs of the community with that of the environment.

There are many in our watershed deserving of an OTIS award.  We would like to provide special recognition to all of the 2013 OTIS Nominees

Mike Black ~Mount Butte Natural Area protection
Midge Lambert ~Riparian Restoration program
Rajan Rathnavalu ~Spirit of the Land conference and video series

JJ Collet Nature Centre
Battle River Railway
Battle Lake Synergy Group
County of Vermilion River
Lacombe County

Maven Boddy and the Golden Prairie 4H ~ Riparian Restoration
Ben Brunen ~Wainwright Wetlands
Daysland School ~School based stewardship education

2012 OTIS Award Winners

Youth Category: Kaitlin Lomas, Katie and Vicki Wyering, Melissa Gartner

These 4 girls created the Otis and Friends book, have had it published and distributed throughout the watershed in an effort to increase environmental awareness and stewardship amongst children.  There has also been a second book in the series called “The Problem with Pollution.”


Individual Category: Carol Wilson

Carol was instrumental in the creation of the Battle River Watershed Alliance as well as the Iron Creek Watershed Improvement Society (ICWIS).  She brought her commitment to stewardship to her work with Alberta Beef for many years.  With the ICWIS Carol found sponsorship and built partnerships to host three ‘Wetlands, Trees and Forests’ events in Flagstaff County and is very passionate about fostering stewardship amongst youth.  Along with youth events Carol and the ICWIS have hosted two riparian Health assessments, annual “Supper and Information” evenings, tree plantings, and have provided farmers and ranchers portable solar powered watering systems on a trial basis.


Business/Organization Category: Darcy and Candace Goodrich from Pure Stock County Farms.

The goal of Darcy and Candace Goodrich is to raise healthy children, healthy livestock and healthy grass by improving the health of our soils.

They operate a direct-marketing business outside of Hardisty selling hormone and antibiotic-free beef, from their purebred Galloway cattle, which are also sold for seedstock.

They consider themselves “Eco-Farmers” and start with the soil. They believe that there must be more farmers and ranchers devoting their efforts to the soil, and they must have the support of our governments.

In 2006 Darcy initiated the Prairie Roots Grazing Club where producers can get together once a month to learn from each other.  It is still going strong. 

2012 Otis Award Winners presented by BRWA staff.
Absent: Goodrich Family. 






Rolling Down the River EventWolf Creek WMP Meeting