Conservation Foundation celebrates donors and award recipients

Thursday, March 24, 2022

image of a glass conservation award

Essex Region – The Essex Region Conservation Foundation hosted its Virtual Annual General Meeting on March 23, thanking its many donors and recognizing two award recipients.

The Stephanie & Barry Zekelman Foundation, whose philanthropy has supported dozens of important causes in the Windsor-Essex community and beyond, was awarded the Clifford Hatch Conservation Award.  In addition to supporting the Earth Day Travelling Road Show, the Stephanie & Barry Zekelman Foundation was the lead contributor to the new accessible Heritage & Conservation Centre at the John R. Park Homestead with a gift of $100,000. Then, to ensure the building could be completed to the highest standards, they supported The Stephanie & Barry Zekelman Foundation Creative Commons – the Centre’s main interior teaching space.

“Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Zekelman, not only for your incredible support of conservation in the region, but all you do to make this world a better place,” said Claire Wales, who was acclaimed as the Foundation’s President for a second year.

The award for Outstanding Corporate Contribution was presented to Families First. Families First has been a longstanding supporter of conservation efforts. In particular, since 2016 they have sponsored, provided design and printing services and golfer gifts to for the ERCF’s Fundraising Golf Tournament. With this support, the tournament has elevated to a new level of success, and since that time, has raised nearly $164,000 dollars for conservation. This year, Families First is partnering with the Town of LaSalle and ERCA to create a Healing Forest for all whose lives have been impacted by COVID-19.

In thanking all of the donors and supporters of conservation efforts, Wales cited the opening of the Heritage & Conservation Centre at the John R. Park Homestead, the continuation of Conservation Education programs thanks to the Partners in Sustainability, and the addition of thousands of trees to the region’s landscape among the year’s top conservation successes. “Thanks to hundreds of supporters, nearly $583,000 was raised for conservation projects and programs in 2021,” he said. “Thank you, thank you.”

The 2021 ERCF Gratitude Report and the 2021 ERCF Gratitude Video are available at

Since 1977, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation has been enriching and sustaining the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region as the Place for Life.

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