Hearn family supports conservation education

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Windsor/Essex, ON– October 20 marks national Take Me Outside Day, a day which encourages children and youth to spend more time outside through various projects and initiatives, like outdoor education.  Upon learning that conservation education programs that have been provided by ERCA for more than 40 years were vulnerable due to the changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, the Hearn Family immediately stepped in to assist, making a five year commitment as the Gold Sponsor of the Conservation Foundation’s Partners in Sustainability – Inspiring Future Conservationists and Eco-Stewards program.

“When we learned that outdoor education programs were at risk due to the recent changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, we were compelled to do what we could to ensure the continuity of this crucial element of a young person’s education,” said Mr. Steven Hearn. “We are a huge outdoor family, and grew up exploring all of the natural places in Essex County. Some of our best childhood memories are connecting to the outdoors, and we want to ensure that other children can continue to have these experiences.”

With a history dating back to 1966, Hearn Industrial Services is committed to quality, excellence, superior business performance and continuous improvement, and have developed a diverse portfolio of companies that continue to strengthen the region’s economy for the next 50 years.

“We value the importance of outdoor learning and providing opportunities for young people to connect with nature,” Mr. Hearn added.  “We were particularly impressed to know that even when school was being conducted remotely, ERCA provided virtual field trips to ensure students were being educated about conservation and natural resource management.”

A compelling body of evidence clearly shows that introducing kids to nature has numerous health benefits, including increased physical activity, healthier body weight, better concentration, reduced symptoms of ADHD and anxiety, and improved energy.  More than 350,000 students across Windsor and Essex County have participated in ERCA’s outdoor education programs since 1974.

Curriculum-based experiential learning opportunities are provided at four conservation areas across the Essex Region, and over this past year, have continued to be provided virtually. Topics range from watershed management, Great Lakes protection, ecosystem health, flooding and erosion, natural resources and sustainability, and natural and cultural heritage.

Traditionally, municipalities have supported this programming through levy allocations. However, recent changes to the Act will require agreements with each municipality for this and other programs classified as ‘non-core’ to continue. Maximizing private donations provides assurance that this important education program can continue as these changes are navigated.

John & Shannon Omstead and Family, long-time sponsors of conservation education programs, have made a five year commitment as the Silver Sponsor of this effort.  Enbridge Gas. Ltd, Manz Contracting, the Margaret & David Reid Nature Fund, the Rosati Group, the Scott Family Foundation and Timberland Homes have invested in the children of this region as Bronze Sponsors of these important programs.

“The Essex Region Conservation Foundation is incredibly grateful to the Hearn family and all of the remarkably generous sponsors for this investment in outdoor education for the young people of the Essex region,” said Claire Wales, President of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation.

For more than 40 years, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation has been raising funds to enrich our region as the Place for Life.


“In our family and business , we like to focus on the three pillars of sustainability: social, environmental and economic. Conservation education programs help youth – our future decision makers –  understand that all elements of sustainability are connected, and we are pleased to continue to support these important learning opportunities.”  ~John & Shannon Omstead

“Enbridge Gas recognizes that environmental education and stewardship are key to creating healthy and vibrant communities, and we wanted to ensure these programs can continue to inspire and engage young people in the Windsor-Essex region.” ~Brian Chauvin, Enbridge Gas

“Conservation and education go hand in hand in protecting our planet. The Scott Family is fully supportive of all of your efforts!” ~ Jim Scott, Scott Family Foundation

“Our parents would be very happy to know that the fund they established continues to support youth in connecting with nature, and we are pleased to contribute to the good work ERCA does providing outdoor education for our youth.” ~Dr. Chris Reid, Margaret & David Reid Nature Fund

students dipnetting in water from a pier

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