Citizen Advocate Awards

Citizen Advocate Awards

It is award season—Golden Globes, Grammies, Oscars—but the best awards of all (ok we’re biased) are Freshwater Future’s Annual Citizen Advocate Awards. May the following individuals and organizations give you hope and inspiration that by working together we CAN protect and restore our precious Great Lakes.

Amy Jo Smith
You know what Lucille Ball had to say, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” Amy Jo Smith is living proof of Lucille Ball’s words: she is the Executive Director of Environment Erie, CEO of Eco-Cheeks (a cloth diaper business) and a full time Mom.

Amy Jo was a Freshwater Future board member for six years, and when she was asked to do something, Amy Jo always followed through quickly and thoroughly. She was a great ambassador for Freshwater Future, promoting our services and pro­grams and connecting other groups working in Pennsylvania. Thank you Amy Jo serving on Freshwater Future’s Board, both as a member and our secretary.

Stacey Smith
Energetic, enthusiastic, and wom­an of action is what comes to mind when Freshwater Future staffers think of Stacey Smith— and this impression was made just over phone conversations. Stacey Smith has channelled her positivity to restore the health of Onondaga Creek in Syracuse and revitalize her community.

The grassroots group she helped organize, Onondaga Creek Conservation Council, is transforming a decrepit urban park into an oasis with climate savvy plantings. Stacey led the charge by asking for help and input from everywhere she could. Several universities, Roots & Shoots club, and 100 Black Men from Syracuse have all helped. What matters most to Stacey, though, is when the children from the neighbourhood help with planting projects and take pride in their accomplishments and enjoy the restored park. Stacey’s work has helped many reconnect to the natural world in their neighborhood.

Concerned Citizens of Big Bay
Persistence is a key attribute for environmental advocates and Concerned Citizens of Big Bay has just that. This small group of dedicated individuals in the U.P. continues to be involved in the unfolding story of Eagle Mine in Marquette County. While the permits have been is­sued for the mine, there is still a great deal of work yet to be done.
Concerned Citizens of Big Bay has been instrumental in shedding light on the dealings between the mining company and local authorities in the construction or improvements of mine haul roads. Members of CCBB dug deep into the notes of meetings and found that the “improvements” were actually plans to build brand new sections of road through the watershed. They began organizing and alerting fellow activists about public hearings, meetings, and comment opportunities. CCBB was successful in getting the Marquette County Board of Commissioners support because of their persistence and desire to protect this beautiful area of the U.P.
With a limited budget and no staff, it is amazing to see how much power we all wield simply through our actions. Freshwater Future is pleased to present this award to these unsung heroes and we hope they keep their persistence up.

Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources (POWER)
Since 1987 POWER has worked in Ontario, formed by concerned citizens, worried about using the Acton quarry as a waste dump. Through their citizen engagement and community awareness, the dump was stopped, helping save the Niagara Escarpment. Their efforts were emboldened and continue to this day.

POWER realized there was a lot more work to be done to promote environmental protection and preserve, protect, restore and improve their natural resources. Freshwater Future applauds POWER for their continuation and development of more projects beyond their original goal, like informing their community of the importance of biodiversity and increasing recycling to prevent more waste from entering their landfill. Thank you for keeping up the good fight!

Mike Layton
mike-laytonMike Layton is a dedicated environmental and community leader in his home-town of Toronto. Commitment to the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes has led him to serving on the Boards of Freshwater Future and Great Lakes United, acting as a member of Environment Canada’s Great Lakes Canadian Advisory Panel and working at Environmental Defence as Deputy Outreach Director where he championed initiatives such as the Green Energy and Green Economy Act.

Most recently, Mike was elected as one of Toronto’s youngest Councillors. He brought his experience and commitment to the Great Lakes to city council. In the summer of 2013, Mike spearheaded the “Cut the Carp: Taking Action on Invasive Species in the Great Lakes” campaign to raise awareness on the threat Asian carp pose to the ecological and economic health of the Great Lakes. Mike’s motion to call on governments on both sides of the border to take action to fight the invasive species in the Great Lakes was passed by the city council of Toronto.
Thank you Mike for your dedication to keeping the Great Lakes clean, healthy, and Asian carp free!



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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.