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November 12, 2014
2014 Oxford Stewardship Award winner announced
Winner recognized for respect for farm and the environment

County of Oxford Warden Don McKay presented the 2014 Oxford Stewardship Award this morning at Council to honour Dawn Dennison for her voluntary efforts to help protect the quality of Oxford’s soil, water and air.

Singled out by the Oxford Stewardship Award selection committee for her deep commitment to conservation efforts, Dennison helps protect soil, water and air quality through a variety of measures, including the planting of a mix of hardwood and softwood trees on five acres of highly erodible land on her property to prevent soil loss, adding biodiversity and protecting the Thames River, and the installation of bird boxes to help attract bluebirds to the area. The recipient represents a rural landowner with considerable respect for both her farm and the environment.

The recipient was chosen from a pool of three finalists whose environmental stewardship projects were supported by the Clean Water Program, a program to promote rural water quality funded by the County of Oxford and administered by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. All of this year’s finalists undertook various improvements on their farms to protect the environment, ranging from the installation of innovative systems to treat farm run-off and restricting livestock access to streams to the planting of trees and native vegetation on fragile lands.

In keeping with the theme of celebrating and supporting local achievement, the County of Oxford is again honouring this year’s Oxford Stewardship Award recipient with original artwork commissioned from a local artist. As the 2014 winner, the recipient received a $500 gift certificate towards the purchase of a work of art by local artist, Rhonda Franks.

The winner of the Oxford Stewardship Award is chosen by Stewardship Oxford and the Oxford Soil & Crop Improvement Association, with Cathy Dibble, Soil & Crop Improvement Association, and Cher Sprague, Stewardship Oxford, leading the judging process. This year’s other short-listed nominees included:

  • Gerrit and Margriet Wensink of Hoenhorst Farms from East Zorra-Tavistock
  • Ryan and Jayne Green from Zorra Township





Don McKay, Warden, County of Oxford


“Oxford County is proud of its agricultural heritage and is especially proud of its farming communities that think to the future to sustain both farming and the land. In the sixth year of the Oxford Stewardship Award, we continue to see how our community is committed to creating a sustainable Oxford.”


Gordon Hough, Director, Community & Strategic Planning, County of Oxford


“The County of Oxford is honoured to support the great work completed by our farming communities, individual landowners and our local conservation authorities and partner agencies through the Oxford Stewardship Award.”





  • Candidates for the Oxford Stewardship Award are drawn from recipients of the previous year’s Clean Water Program incentive funding. Funding is available for sustainable woodlands conservation and management; soil erosion prevention and remediation; protection of surface and groundwater; proper fuel handling and storage; and other conservation initiatives. In 2013, a total of 112 projects were funded through the Clean Water Program in Oxford County. For more information on the Clean Water Program, visit
  • The Oxford Stewardship Award was established in 2009. It builds on the legacy of the former Landsaver Award, which was granted between 1982 and 2003 to recognize outstanding contributions by the farming community toward the conservation of land, water and air. The development of a stewardship award to acknowledge the role rural landowners play in preserving natural heritage was one of the recommended actions in the Oxford Natural Heritage Study
  • Rhonda Franks is an artist from South Western Ontario. For more information, visit  

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