QUEENS PARK – A seasonal icon from Ontario’s north illuminated the halls of Queen’s Park. The annual lighting of the Lieutenant Governor’s Christmas tree, a 14 foot Fraser fir provided by Forests Ontario and grown by our partners at Somerville Nurseries in Alliston, Ontario, was decorated with lights and baubles.
The lighting ceremony was hosted by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell. During the ceremony, Forests Ontario recognized the Ontario government’s continued support for our forests and forestry sector. 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 Holy Spirit Catholic School were recognized as the champions of last year’s Tree Bee, 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 2014 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 programs in addition to their every day academic commitments and in doing so have learned more about the importance of our forests and played a role in enhancing our natural landscapes. These students have started on a lifelong path of stewardship and today, we show our appreciation by honouring them at this wonderful seasonal event.”
Forests Ontario would like to extend our gratitude to Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell for including us during the Christmas festivities at Queen’s Park and to the Ontario government for its commitment to the future of our forests. 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, 2014 was a landmark year for forest education and we look forward to growing the programs in 2015.
About Forests Ontario
Forests Ontario was created in 2014 as a result of the merging of not-for-profit organizations Trees Ontario and the Ontario Forestry Association (OFA). Forests Ontario is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas as well as the renewal and stewardship of Ontario’s forests through restoration, education and awareness. Visit www.forestsontario.ca or follow us @Forests_Ontario.