By Heather Killen
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is recognizing a Valley woman with one of its highest honours.
Diana Ackroyd has been named the Stan Hodgkiss Outdoorsperson of the Year by the federation for her active commitment to conservation.
The CWF was to recognize the Lawrencetown resident and five other award recipients at its annual general meeting June 9 in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
Ackroyd said if she didn’t have the tickets to fly to Newfoundland, she would hardly believe she won the national award.
“Whenever I think of outdoor person of the year, I imagine someone hiking Mount Everest,” she said, “and that’s just not me.”
When she started her project, Ackroyd added, winning a national award was the last thing on her mind. For her it only seems natural to surround herself with beautiful gardens and to encourage the birds to visit.
“Nature is all around, why would you try to discourage that?” she said. “Of course we don’t encourage the raccoons and skunks.”
The path to Ackroyd’s award nomination began when she became involved in the federation’s backyard certification program, an initiative that encourages homeowners to plan their outdoor spaces in a way that meets the habitat needs of wildlife.
This project may have started out in her backyard, but Ackroyd was soon promoting the initiative throughout her village. She encouraged other residents to get involved so Lawrencetown could be the first community in the country to achieve a designation.
She succeeded. In January, Lawrencetown became the first Canadian CWF-certified Backyard Habitat Community
In certifying their properties, people need to ensure wildlife has access to food, water, shelter, that earth-friendly gardening practices have been used and native plants are included in the design.
“It was easy to get certified, we didn’t have to change what we did,” she said. “It’s not an effort to do this. All but a few of the property owners already had what they needed to do to qualify.”
Above and beyond
Ackroyd was determined her community could qualify for the status. She worked with the CWF and village officials to find out how Lawrencetown could lead the way for other communities and then went door-to-door in her neighbourhood, rallying for at least 30 per cent of the community to be certified, a total of 90 residential properties.
Carole Wheatley, of the CWF, said that in her opinion Ackroyd went above and beyond to encourage her neighbours to become involved.
“She was so dedicated, she took it beyond her own backyard,” Wheatley said. “She walked the properties herself, helped with applications, took the pictures, and offered whatever support was needed.
“Diana’s dedication to conservation is truly outstanding and we are so pleased to recognize her excellent work and accomplishment in the community,” said Wade Luzny, CWF executive vice-president. “We are thrilled with the depth and magnitude of all the nominations we receive. These awards are one way to pay tribute to what so many people have made their life work — to ensure our natural heritage remains for future generations.”
About The CWF
The CWF is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes, and cooperating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians may live in harmony with nature.