Annual Gathering

The Annual Gathering 

The OLTA Land Trust Gathering is the annual training, skills development and networking conference bringing together land trust, conservation professionals and those in the broader environmental industry and the charitable sector from across Ontario. Conference participants benefit from workshops and plenary sessions. There is also plenty of time for informal networking and celebrating accomplishments with your colleagues!

Based on the current COVID-19 situation and feedback from a recent survey we have made the difficult decision to move the Gathering to a virtual format again this year. After the success of last year’s digital Gathering we are confident in our ability to pull off an equally engaging and successful virtual event for the second year in a row.

Make sure to Save the Date! – OLTA’s Digital Gathering will take place from Monday, October 18th – Wednesday, October 20th, 2021. This year’s Gathering will feature 7 speaker sessions, breakouts, and a digital campfire sing-a-long! Regional in-person field trips will also be available on Sunday, October 17th.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for the release of the complete schedule and registration information. We look forward to connecting with everyone soon!

As part of this year’s Annual OLTA Gathering, we will once again be hosting an online silent auction. Proceeds will support OLTA’s education and training events, improving the capacity of our members to protect Ontario’s wonderful wildlife and natural landscapes. You can help us by donating items for the auction. If you have items or questions please contact Jeff or Mikayla.

Interested in sponsoring the 2021 Gathering? Review our Sponsorship Package for various opportunities to build relationships with Ontario’s ever-growing conservation community. If you would like to become a sponsor of the 2021 Ontario Land Trust Gathering or have any questions please reach out to Phyllis Lee (OLTA’s Member Services Coordinator).Thanks in advance for supporting us!

Previous Gatherings

2020 OLTA Digital Gathering  – “Courageous Land Conservation”

Schedule at a Glance

Session Overview – Monday, October 19, 2020

Welcome / Land Acknowledgement

9:00 am – 9:15 am

1 On a Path Towards Shared Wiser Futures

9:15 am – 10:30 am

Stephanie Sobek-Swant and Mackenzie Lespérance, rare Charitable Research Reserve; Elwood Jimmy, Musagetes Foundation

The Session will be a conversation around the shared work, being done by both the rare Charitable Research Reserve and the Musagetes Foundation to imagine and work towards building wiser futures between Indigenous and Settler communities, and our collective relationship and obligations to the Earth. This conversation will highlight the necessity of interrupting unsustainable habits, desires, entitlements, attachments and expectations on that path.

Learning Outcomes

An introduction to our shared work that looks at the magnitude and complexity of ecological challenges as the motivation for starting on a path to building the stamina, resiliency and different ways of knowing and being required to face these difficulties together, without relationships falling apart. The conversation will talk about the different barriers including denial of systemic violence, denial of entanglement, the denial of the limits of the planet, that inhibit our path to wiser futures.


Breakouts – Why Are We Together

You will be placed in a breakout room with others. Your collective mission is to determine the common thread that connects you. You will have 20 minutes. The group who discovers the common link between themselves wins bragging rights!

2 Keynote: Land Trusts, Ecological Corridors and Nature Conservation That Matters

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Harvey Locke, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Beyond the Aichi Targets Task Force

The world is facing a triple crisis of biodiversity collapse, climate change and a pandemic. These are all related. Ecological corridors can play a big role in fixing these problems. Land trusts are key to creating them in southern and middle Canada. The land trust movement can thus play a vital role in creating a landscape of hope that will give us a brighter future that is equitable, nature-positive and carbon neutral.


3 OLTA’s New Strategic Plan

3:00pm – 3:20pm

This session will give an overview of OLTA’s new strategic plan

4 OLTA Member Accomplishments

3:25pm – 3:45pm

OLTA Member Accomplishments presentation that highlights the achievements of OLTA Members and Associates over the last year. Celebrate and learn from all the amazing land conservation and stewardship work happening in our community.

OLTA Annual General Meeting

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

The meeting will be via Zoom. Information will be sent out 10 days prior.

Digital Campfire Sing-a-long

7:30 pm

Join the fun around the digital fire organized by Coco Love Alcorn.

Session Overview -Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Morning Coffee

8:30 am – 9:00 am

Grab your coffee/tea and start the day with informal networking.

5 Ecological Gifts Program: Top 5 List of Lists

9:00 am – 10:15 am

Laura Kucey, Ontario Coordinator, Ecological Gifts Program, Environment and Climate Change Canada

The Ecological Gifts Program provides a way for landowners with ecologically sensitive land to protect nature and leave a legacy for future generations. Made possible by the terms of the Income Tax Act of Canada, it offers significant tax benefits to landowners who donate land or a partial interest in land to a qualified recipient.

Each donation is unique and questions come up at every point in the donation process. This session provides the EGP TOP 5 recommendations, tips and other useful tidbits in five different categories:

1. Submission and organizational tips

2. Timelines you don’t want to miss

3. EGP news and updates

4. The oops list

5. FAQs

This session will be useful for those involved in donation scenarios and contains practical takeaway tips that you can implement in your current or upcoming acquisition efforts.

Learning Outcomes

1. Practical tips for preparing EGP submissions (hint: if you follow these, the EGP completion timelines speed up considerably)

2. Strengthening organization practices

3. Greater understanding of the Ecological Gifts Program


Breakout – Have Your Say – OLTA’s Strategic Plan

10:15 am – 10:45 am

Join the OLTA Board of Governors to discuss your feedback on the strategic plan. Bring your questions and comments to assist in OLTA’s strategic direction for the coming years.

6 Communication Amidst Global Distractions

10:45 am – 12:00 pm

Tanya Clark, The Couchiching Conservancy; Jane Gilbert, Nature Conservancy of Canada; Vincent Luk

This panel will address how to get your message out during this time of global distractions.


Breakout – Board / Engaging Youth / Senior Staff

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm

Have an interest in engaging youth? Are you a board member or senior staff looking to connect with others? Join one of these breakout rooms for some informal networking.

7 S&P Best Practices in COVID Times

12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

Antoin Diamond, The Bruce Trail Conservancy; Robert Orland, Orland Conservation; Susan Walmer, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust.

The Canadian Land Trust (CLT) Standards and Practices (S&Ps) are the guidelines that describe how to operate a land trust legally, ethically and in the public interest, with a sound program of land transactions and land stewardship. Come and join the conversation on how to use the S&Ps in practice during these COVID times. The focus will be on Standards 9 – Ensuring Sound Transactions, 11 – Conservation Agreement Stewardship and 12 – Land Stewardship.


Session Overview – Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Morning Coffee

8:30 am – 9:00 am

Grab your coffee/tea and start the day with informal networking.

8 Funding Land Conservation

9:00 am – 10:15 am

Four lightning sessions focussing on different land trust funding opportunities and perspectives.

Carbon Offsets

Bob Barnett, Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy

Bob will describe how carbon offset sales to the voluntary market work and what a land trust must do to benefit.

LTCF Program Overview

Jessica Burns, Wildlife Habitat Canada

This will be a high level overview of the year 2 Large and Small Grant Programs, application process and common application errors.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Gain a better understanding of the overall Large and Small Grant Program structures.

2. Gain a better understanding of the application process for the Large and Small Grant Programs.

Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond: Co-creating a Green Future

Michelle Kanter, Carolinian Coalition Canada

In spring 2020, Carolinian Canada and partners launched the Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond, a unique cross-sector finance mechanism to accelerate healthy landscapes in the spirit and practice of reconciliation. Co-creation of the financial investment mechanism is just one story. Early results indicate that strategic collaboration can attract support for high-quality habitat with multiple environmental, economic and social returns.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Keys to success for a Conservation Impact Bond

2. Early results of Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond

3. Conservation sector’s role in a green economy

Taking Care of the Most Sustainable Source of Revenue

Kimberley MacKenzie, KMA Incorporated

Unrestricted donations from people who love your organization is the most reliable source of revenue for your land trust. Kimberley will share information about how to engage with those who love you most during these turbulent times….and beyond.

Learning Outcomes:

4. Learn how COVID – 19 is impacting giving across the sector.

5. Understand why donors give to your organization.

6. Leave with three action items to help build stronger relationships with your donors.

Breakout – Securement / Stewardship / COVID Challenges

10:15 am – 10:45 am

Have questions for experienced staff? Looking to connect with others on a specific topic? Join one of these breakout rooms for some informal networking.

9 OLTA Awards

10:45 am – 11:15 am

Join us as we recognize outstanding individuals and land trusts.

10 Closing Session: A Resilience Agenda for Protected Lands

11:15 am – 12:15 pm

Julia Baird, Brock University

We are living in an era of change and uncertainty, and ‘resilience’ is increasingly emphasized to successfully navigate this era. But, what does resilience mean in the context of protected lands? I will focus on answering this question using the perspective that the environment and society are strongly intertwined. In answering the question, ways in which protected lands are contributing to broader system resilience, and promising ways in which contributions could be enhanced, will be identified. Through the presentation, a resilience agenda for protected lands will be set out.


Speaker Biographies

Harvey Locke, Harvey Locke Conservation Inc.

Dr. Harvey Locke is the Co-founder and Strategic Advisor, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Dr. Harvey Locke is one of the world’s leading experts on parks, wilderness and large landscape conservation ( He has worked closely with many land trusts on many transactions to create ecological corridors in the Yellowstone to Yukon region of Canada and the US. He served on the board of The Nature Conservancy’s Montana Chapter for six years. He knows the Ontario landscape well. Globally, Dr. Locke chairs the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Beyond the Aichi Targets Task Force ( and is co-author of the IUCN’s global ecological connectivity guidelines. He lives in Banff National Park.

Julia Baird, Brock University

Julia Baird is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies at Brock University, and holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience. Julia is a sustainability scientist, which means that her research is purpose driven – she aims to find solutions to real-world problems. Her research interests focus on how we can improve our decision-making processes related to ecosystems for better outcomes, using resilience as a lens for her work. She is also interested in the potential of individuals and their actions to have impacts at larger scales and the role of their mindsets on this potential for change.

Antoin Diamond, Bruce Trail Conservancy

Originally from the UK, Antoin Diamond was introduced to land conservation and hiking at an early age. Now a professional land use planner in Ontario, Antoin is also VP of Land Acquisitions at the Bruce Trail Conservancy Through her 14 years tenure, Antoin has gained substantial experience in landowner relations, real estate transactions and land use planning policies and legislation needed to implement the numerous securement options available to landowners. Antoin’s experience and expertise has taken her to an international stage where she has delivered presentations and workshops to land trusts and trail organizations in South Korea, Lebanon and the UK on this subject.  Antoin holds an honours degree in Geography and Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Analysis from the University of Guelph. Antoin lives in Guelph, Ontario with her husband and family.

Bob Barnett, Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy

Bob Barnett continues to practice as an architect. After 10 years with the Bruce Trail as a volunteer, he and a few others, in 1997, decided to start a new land trust to protect the whole escarpment ecosystem. This has now grown to 183 reserves from Caledon to western Manitoulin and from Goderich to Mattawa, primarily along the Huron shore. This 60 square kilometer area protects 62 species of conservation concern. As executive director, Bob helps EBC conserve a new reserve every month or so.

Jessica Burns, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Jessica Burns is the Grant Administrator, Land Trusts Conservation Fund. Jessica has a passion for nature and a spirit for collaboration. She holds a BA in Sociology from Queen’s University and has over 10 years of extensive executive administration experience across private, government and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining WHC, Jessica spent five years with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority working in Integrated Watershed Management.

Tanya Clark, The Couchiching Conservancy

Tanya Clark is the Development Coordinator at The Couchiching Conservancy. Her role focuses on connecting with and engaging supporters to help protect the land and waters of the Lake Couchiching region. She is most proud of her work with the Gosling Foundation to expand the Passport to Nature program across Canada with other environmental organizations. She has a BA in Business Administration from Lakehead University and is a graduate of the Fundraising and Resource Development Program from Georgian College. When not at work, Tanya spends her time walking her dog Charlie, cycling and playing in the water. Tanya was the recipient of the OLTA Emerging Land Trust Leader in 2019.

Jane Gilbert, Nature Conservancy of Canada

Jane is the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) chief storyteller. This was a natural extension of her previous career as an award-winning science journalist and television producer.

Jane joined in 2008, keen to share NCC’s great stories with many more Canadians.

Before working with NCC Jane spent 10 years with the Discovery Channel as co-host and senior producer of the programs and Daily Planet. Jane was the creative force behind the kids’ science-adventure series, Sci-Q, for which she received a Gemini nomination. Prior to Discovery Channel, Jane was an anchor and producer working for Canada’s leading newsrooms, including CBC National and Newsworld, Global-TV and CJOH Ottawa.

Jane holds a degree in journalism and law from Carleton University in Ottawa and a masters degree from the University of Toronto in the history and philosophy of science and technology.

She is an active volunteer with Carleton University, as president of the Alumni Association.

Jane is based in the Toronto area, where she lives with her husband and two children and encourages them to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of our natural world.

Elwood Jimmy, Musagetes Foundation

Elwood Jimmy is a learner, collaborator, writer, artist, facilitator, cultural manager, and gardener. He is originally from Thunderchild First Nation, a Nêhiyaw community in the global north. For over 20 years, he has played a leadership role in several art projects, collectives, and organizations locally and abroad. Since 2015, Elwood has worked with the Musagetes Foundation in Guelph, and recently, with Vanessa Andreotti and Sharon Stein, co-authored the book Towards Braiding. He is the Coordinator of Indigenous Programs, Musagetes Foundation.

Michelle Kanter, Carolinian Canada Coalition

Michelle Kanter is Executive Director of Carolinian Canada. She has worked in wildlife research and conservation for 35 years from the Arctic to Australia. She lives in the Carolinian Zone where she enjoys working with local to global partners to grow a green future, together.

Laura Kucey, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Laura has worked at Environment and Climate Change Canada since 2010. She is the Ecological Gifts Program Coordinator and has been involved with over 200 donations certified through the Ecological Gifts Program. Prior to that, Laura spent several years in Peterborough working on Biodiversity and Great Lakes initiatives at the Ministry of Natural Resources (and now Forestry). Her background also includes studying Steller Sea Lions in the North Pacific for her graduate degree and working for a couple of years in Washington, DC for National Geographic Magazine.

Mackenzie Lespérance / Smiling Water, rare Charitable Research Reserve & Trent University

Mackenzie Lespérance – Shoobeegheenee Niibish (Smiling Water) – is an Indigenous Research Fellow at the rare Charitable Research Reserve, an urban land trust and environmental institute in Waterloo Region/Wellington. She has completed a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology and a Master of Science in Plant Agriculture from the University of Guelph and is now doing her Doctor of Philosophy in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. She has been a Teaching Assistant for Indigenous Environmental Sciences & Studies for the past 3 years and has a passion for learning about Mother Earth at the interface of Indigenous and Western knowledge systems.

Vincent Luk, David Coulson, Shelby Grassick, Fleming College

As graduates of the Environmental Visual Communications post-graduate program in Toronto, Vincent Luk, David Coulson, and Shelby Grassick work as visual storytellers through photography, videography, and graphic design. Believing strongly in the power of visual storytelling, they are dedicated to telling stories that educate and inspire audiences to engage with the creatures, people and world around them. Based in Toronto, Vincent, David and Shelby’s work has taken them across the globe where they have collaborated with NGOs, publications and educational institutions to help share their conservation stories.

Kimberley MacKenzie( CFRE), KMA Incorporated

Kimberley is a member of the OLTA Board of Governors and has been raising money for mostly environmental charities since 2000. Currently working as an independent strategic consultant focusing on donor relations and strategic planning.

Robert Orland, Orland Conservation

Robert founded Orland Conservation as an environmental consulting group that offers a range of services in land conservation, strategic planning and public outreach to land trusts, conservation authorities and municipalities. Acquiring over 27 years of experience in land conservation, Robert has delivered presentations and workshops as an expert on land securement across Canada. Working in partnership with land trusts for many years, Robert has facilitated and advised on the protection and creative stewardship of over 10,000 acres of environmentally significant natural heritage lands and parks in Ontario. As President of Orland Conservation, Robert is committed to making a sound contribution to the land conservation and sustainability movement in Canada.

Stephanie Sobek-Swant, rare Charitable Research Reserve

Born and raised in Germany, Stephanie is a settler guest and internationally-trained biodiversity researcher with experience administering collaborative projects involving universities, municipalities and the community. She graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Göttingen in Germany and has held research positions at the Universities of Waterloo and Western, and taught as Assistant Professor at Ryerson University. Since 2014, she has worked as Executive Director for rare, a land trust and environmental institute for Waterloo Region/Guelph/Wellington.

Susan Walmer, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust

A Certified Accountant, Sue combines her long-held enthusiasm for community engagement, deep appreciation for Canadian historical context and concern for a healthy environmental future in this challenging position. Her childhood camping trips across Canada strengthened her love of nature and inner peace. This awareness of purpose channeled her actions to lead as a ratepayer association chair during the many public walks and advocacy meetings to establish the long-term protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine. When asked what she does; she replies, “I help people’s dreams come true by protecting land forever.” Susan is the Chief Executive Officer, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust.

Coco Love Alcorn

We are delighted to have Coco Love Alcorn lead our digital Campfire Sing-a-long.

As a performer, Coco is always in the moment, joyful, and genuine. She combines diverse musical influences including jazz, R&B, pop, folk, and Gospel. Her playful and witty character, love of improvising, and willingness to engage fearlessly with the audience has made Alcorn an established presence on the Canadian music scene.

Born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and now based in Owen Sound, Ontario, Alcorn’s career has spanned more than 20 years, 12 (9 solo) albums, cross-Canada tours, collaborations, festival appearances, award nominations, and notable success in TV and film licensing. And it took someone with a spirit like Alcorn’s to navigate this path.

In most recent times Coco has embraced the digital space, leading full singing sessions on Zoom and guested on many other digital music events. To find our more about Coco, visit her website.

“Out of the hard times in life comes rebirth. Out of the hard times in life we grow.” ~ Coco Love Alcorn, lyrics from Rebirth.

How to Join the 2020 OLTA Digital Gathering on Crowdcast

Attending the 2020 OLTA Digital Gathering? Have you heard that OLTA will be hosting the Gathering on Crowdcast but you’re not familiar with the platform? Please check out our video below for a helpful guide on registering, joining, and interacting during OLTA’s Annual Gathering on Crowdcast.

For more information on the Crowdcast platform please review the resources we’ve collated in the following section.

If you have any challenges accessing Crowdcast during the Gathering, please send us an email, Slack message or call us, and an OLTA staff member will be more than happy to help you out.


How to Access the Recorded Sessions

Interested in the sessions that you were unable to attend? You can access the recordings here using the password provided to you during the Gathering.

Didn’t attend the gathering but would like to access the recordings? Please contact Phyllis Lee (, OLTA’s Member Services Coordinator.


Thank you to our generous supporters of the 2020 OLTA Digital Gathering!

2019 Gathering – A Place To Grow: Protection and Connection

Presentations from the 2019 Gathering:

Land Trust Board Members Roles and Responsibilities Demystified

Opening: Paradigm of Place

2A Ensuring Sound Transactions – Part 1, Part 2

2B CRA And Legal Issues That Matter For Land Trusts

3A Conservation Planning – Part 1, Part 2

3B Achieving Effective And Meaningful Engagement With Indigenous Communities

5A Tall Grass Awakening – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

5B Best Practice For Endowment Funds And Stewardship Funding Models

6A Tools for Climate Change Planning

6B Ecological Gifts Program ABCs And The S&Ps – Part 1, Part 2

EGP Submission Process

8A Conservation Easements Agreements

8B Youth Working In The Land Trust Community – S. Walmer Part 1, S.Walmer Part 2; S.Kelly; MC2 Environmental Consulting

9 Land Trusts Conservation Fund And The Canadian Land Trust Working Group – J. Thompson

10 Conservation In Our Challenging Times – Part 1, Part 2

2018 Gathering: Collaborating for Conservation – Strength in Diversity

2018 Gathering Program

Presentations from 2018 Gathering:

2 Canadian Land Trust S&P Update

3A Protected Areas Update

3B Relationship Building Principles and One Tribe Relationship Building Principles

4A Strengthening Conservation Easement Agreements for Securement and Fletcher Acquisition – Best Practices

4B Securing Properties Owned by Americans: Help is Here and Transaction Checklist

5A CLT Standards & Practices in Practice

5B “Mom and Dad Want to do What With Our Land?”

6A Ecological Gifts: Ecological Sensitivity and Change in Use
– EGP Submission Process
– Ecological Sensitivity Criteria (Ontario)

6B Conservation and Climate Change

7A Conservation for Healthy People and Healthy Lands
– EcoHealth Ontario
– Healthy Hikes
– Forest Therapy

7B Collaborating with Indigenous Communities

8A Keeping a Promise for Tomorrow
– Bill Lougheed
– Tanna Elliott

8B Cultural Diversity & Community Engagement
– Newcomer Leadership – Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust
– How to Engage Multicultural Audience

Thank you to our 2018 Supporters

TD Friends of the Environment

2017 Gathering: Promoting Excellence in Conservation

Gathering Program

Presentations from 2017 Gathering:

2016 Gathering: Inspiring Conservation Leadership

2016 Gathering Program

2015 Gathering: Conservation Connections

2015 Gathering Program