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A Season of Thanks: Recognizing KLT’s Volunteers

Kawartha Land Trust volunteer and staff group photo at annual Thanks.Giving volunteer thank you event at Viamede Resort in North Kawartha

Kawartha Land Trust’s recent Thanks.Giving event was an opportunity to reflect upon the impact of volunteers on conservation in the Kawarthas and highlight legacy volunteer Al Sippel

Over the past 21 years, volunteers have made conservation in the Kawarthas possible. Every year, Kawartha Land Trust (KLT) volunteers – new and returning – donate their time, expertise, and dedication to protecting the natural and working lands we love in the Kawarthas.

On October 26th, at our annual Thanks.Giving event we came together at Viamede Resort in North Kawartha to recognize the many achievements of our volunteers in 2023.

Whether it’s creating maps using GIS software, contributing to stewardship guides, maintaining public trails, serving as Board Members or Trustees, planting trees and more, our volunteers are making a difference for nature, for wildlife, for the future of Kawarthas. And for that, we’re extremely thankful.

The event kicked off with a guided hike along KLT’s Stony Lake Trails network led by Richard Raper, volunteer Lead Property Steward at the Ingleton-Wells Property. This 10-kilometre community trail winds through a variety of habitats and is popular among walkers, birders, and those looking for the peace and tranquility that being immersed in nature can provide.

How does a trail network like this one come to be? Through the generosity of the people who donated the land – Norman Cowan and the Ingleton and Wells families – the donors who support KLT’s work to protect nature, the private landowners we have established trail agreements with, and the volunteers who dedicate themselves to maintaining the trails and helping to care for the lands year after year.

Viking Oak on Kawartha Land Trust's Stony Lake Trails Blue Trail
“Viking Oak” on Kawartha Land Trust’s Stony Lake Trails network. (KLT)

Part of the guided hike at our Thanks.Giving event involved a stop at what’s known by many as the “Viking Oak.” This majestic, sky-reaching, White Oak is always a highlight when hiking the Stony Lake Trails, and this day was no different.
Later on, KLT staff and volunteers gathered together inside Viamede Resort where KLT staff highlighted the many contributions of our volunteers this year.

A lot goes into protecting and stewarding land. Our Board Members ensure that KLT’s mission is at the forefront of all decisions. Our Trustees actively champion KLT in the community. Our event ambassadors and Passport to Nature volunteers connect with the community.

Volunteers conduct site visits and inventories and assist with map-making and stewardship guides. Once a property is protected, it’s volunteers who help improve habitat for wildlife, conduct species surveys, remove invasive plant species, and maintain any public trails.

From the field to the office, KLT staff, donors, and volunteers work together as a team to conserve ecologically important lands in the Kawarthas.

“Kawartha Land Trust was started by volunteers and a diverse and committed community of volunteers is the key to KLT’s continued success into the future,” says Chris Ferguson, KLT’s Volunteer Programs Specialist. “It’s volunteers who will help drive the next 20 years of the organization and beyond.”

Recognizing Legacy Volunteer Al Sippel’s Ten Years of Volunteer Service

Thanks.Giving was also an opportunity to recognize one of our amazing legacy volunteers – Al Sippel. At the event, Anna Lee, Director of People and Operations, thanked Al for his service, highlighted his significant contributions, and welcomed him into the very special KLT Legacy Volunteer circle.

“KLT’s legacy volunteers provide a wonderful continuity to the organization that extends beyond the tenure of most of our staff,” said Anna Lee, Director of People and Operations.

Al Sippel at Kawartha Land Trust 2021 Thanks.Giving Event at Sheidow Farms Conservation Easement Agreement
KLT Board Member Al Sippel at Kawartha Land Trust’s 2021 Thanks.Giving event at Sheidow Farms CEA.

A familiar face to many at KLT, for the past ten years Al has dedicated himself to creating a natural legacy in the Kawarthas through the gift of his time, knowledge, and experience.

Former Vice-Chair and a KLT Board Member since 2019, Al has assisted with matters of governance, stewardship, and fundraising. He’s also served on several working groups and committees, including our recent Strategic Planning Committee. There are few areas of KLT’s work that Al has not contributed his efforts to.

When asked why he first started volunteering with KLT, Al noted that a friend, Evan Thomas, invited him to join KLT’s former Stewardship Committee saying it was a great organization to volunteer for.

“KLT’s objectives meshed with my interests in protecting the environment, but in particular, it acted locally,” said Al. “It didn’t take long for me to get engaged with what was happening at the land trust.”

Al relayed that volunteering with Kawartha Land Trust has been an incredible learning experience for him.

Al Sippel receiving legacy volunteer recognition from KLT Chair Paul Downs at KLT's 2023 Annual General Meeting in Burleigh Falls
KLT Chair Paul Downs (L) and Executive Director John Kintare (Centre) recognizing legacy volunteer and Board Member Al Sippel (R) at KLT’s 2023 AGM in Burleigh Falls.

“The other volunteers and staff have been absolutely great people to work with,” said Al. “In the beginning, I was inspired by people like Evan Thomas, Ian Attridge, and Ralph McKim. In recent times, it is the young staff who are so highly motivated that impresses me most. And to make it even better, the land trust has been extremely successful in its objective of protecting lands. The last few years have seen a growing number of properties being protected.”

In his ten years of volunteering with KLT, Al noted that KLT’s acquisition of Big (Boyd/Chiminis) Island was a particularly memorable moment. “A beautiful property with a strong community involvement and ongoing commitment to protect the property.”

We offer our immense gratitude to Al for his past and continued volunteer service to protect the land we love.

“Al has been involved as a core volunteer on our Land Stewardship Committee as a member and Chair, as well as volunteering in both governance and advisory capacities,” said Lee.

“To have Al share his expertise, his incredible eye for detail, and time with us in such a committed and dedicated way is invaluable to ensuring KLT stays true to our mission and continues to uphold the high standard of work that we do. Plus, we just really enjoy Al’s company. Thanks, Al and looking forward to the next 10 years!”

Learn more about Al in this volunteer highlight from 2017 written by Marnie Clement.

Thank you, KLT Volunteers!

In 2022, 161 volunteers donated over 3,400 volunteer hours to KLT. To date in 2023, 139 volunteers have donated over 2,500 hours and the year is not done. We thank you for caring for the natural and working lands of the Kawarthas. We could not have achieved all we have this year without your dedication and help.

If you’re interested in volunteering with KLT and joining a dedicated group of volunteers who love the Kawarthas, visit our volunteer page to learn more.

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