Lighting the Tree in Celebration of Outdoor Education
Forests Ontario joins The Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to ring in the holiday season at Queen’s Park
TORONTO, ON, December 4, 2017 – A Christmas tree, a seasonal icon from Ontario’s north, illuminated the halls of Queen’s Park last Friday. The annual lighting of the Lieutenant Governor’s Christmas tree, a 14 foot Balsam fir provided by Forests Ontario and grown by our partners at Somerville Nurseries in Alliston, Ontario, was adorned with lights and baubles.
The lighting ceremony was hosted by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Forests Ontario’s President Steve Hounsell thanked Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell for her support and pledged to plant a tree in Her Honour’s name this spring.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Tree Ceremony is a longstanding tradition for Forests Ontario. The Ontario Forestry Association (OFA), which merged with Trees Ontario in 2014 to form Forests Ontario, has presented the LG’s official Christmas tree since 1999, the year of the OFA’s 50th anniversary.
The ceremony also honoured the accomplishments of students who excelled in Forests Ontario’s education programs in the past year. Students from St. Aidan Catholic High School and Wismer Public School were recognized as the champions of last year’s TD Tree Bee for the Toronto and York Regions respectively. The TD Tree Bee is a program that introduces students in grades 4-6 to Ontario tree species and culminates in a friendly competition during which students test their knowledge through a tree-identification competition.
The 2017 Ontario Envirothon Champions, University of Toronto Schools, were also honoured. Since 1994, the Ontario Envirothon has offered Ontario high-school students the opportunity to experience our natural landscapes first hand and work alongside experienced professionals in forestry and related fields to develop and test their skills in sustainably managing our natural resources.
“These students have inspired us throughout the year,” said Steve Hounsell, Forests Ontario’s President. “They’ve participated in our forest education programs and have learned more about the importance of our trees and forests and their role in healthy, natural landscapes. These students have started on a lifelong path of stewardship and today, we are honoured to recognize their achievements at this wonderful seasonal event.”
Forests Ontario would like to extend our gratitude to Her Honour for including us during the Christmas festivities at Queen’s Park. Finally, we are grateful to the thousands of students who took part in our education programs throughout the year representing every level in the K-12+ range. With more than 10,000 Ontario students reached through our various programs, 2017 was a landmark year for forest education and we look forward to growing the programs in 2018.