Annual Gathering

OLTA’s Annual Gathering is an annual conference for Ontario land trusts and other like-minded conservationists. It is a time for sharing experiences and learning from others.

The Annual Gathering serves as an opportunity for hundreds of passionate conservation advocates, that work and volunteer to conserve natural heritage, to gather, share, learn, and celebrate our collective accomplishments.

Save the date! as the 2024 Gathering will be October 28 – 30, 2024 at the isaiah tubbs, 1642 County Road #12, Picton ON K0K 2T0 in the Prince Edward country area.

We are looking for volunteers to join the Gathering Committee! The committee helps to determine session topics and speakers; sometimes helping to organize sessions. They assist in promotion and sponsorship as appropriate. The committee also helps with logistics at the event such as introducing and thanking speakers.

The committee meets once a month by Zoom from April to October. We are looking for a few volunteers to join the committee, which will include OLTA staff, board members, and representatives from our community. Please join us! 

To volunteer, please contact

2023 OLTA Annual Gathering

The 2023 Gathering was held in-person on November 1-3, 2023 at the Bayview Wildwood Resort . The theme for the Gathering was “Nurturing All Our Relations – Connections with the Land and People”. The Gathering sessions focused on a range of topics, including Indigenous land stewardship practices, using record keeping and engagement practices effectively to deepen community connections, and the importance and complexity of conservation easement agreement enforcement amendments and disposition. 

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the Gathering. We had a great turnout with over 100 participants who gathered to share their passion for land protection and to celebrate our community’s accomplishments.  

A highlight was the keynote speech by Jacqueline L. Scott, founder of Black Outdoors, entitled “Land Trusts: Building A Bridge Between Conservation and Social Justice”. Jacqueline challenged everyone present to consider who the outdoors is accessible to, and how we can all collaborate to bring more people in.   

During the gathering, we had representation from the Ontario Parliamentary Assistant John Yakabuski, who commended land trusts during his speech and encouraged the land trust community to reach out and connect more often to their local MPs and MPPs. 

From left to right: Ontario Parliamentary Assistant John Yakabuski, Executive Director Alison Howson, and Ian Attridge – Chair OLTA Board hold the OLTA sign. Speaker Jacqueline L. Scott of Black Outdoors stands at the podium. A group of workshop participants meet. People gather at the evening campfire.

Amidst a surprise snowfall, participants enjoyed an energizing and fun hike along the Kahshe Barrens Trail, led by Amanda Porter of the Muskoka Conservancy. Workshops and discussions focused a wide range of topics, including how we can build on the work of volunteers, financial issues for land trusts, and Indigenous approaches to land conservation. We had fun, gathering together, staying warm, and making music at the evening bonfire.  

Participants hike the Kahshe Barrens Trail. Light snow is on the ground and a body of water is in the background. 


The Annual General Meeting was held as part of the Gathering. We are excited to welcome our new Board Governors Terra Duchene (not pictured), Samantha Whiteye, and Katie Akey! 

The OLTA Board of Governors 2023-2024


Gathering Overview




Speakers Corner





2023 Annual Gathering Presentations
2022 Canadian Land Trust Summit

2022 Canadian Land Trust Summit

Thank you to everyone that joined us at the 2022 Summit of Canadian Land Trusts. Over 165 participants gathered in Ottawa from October 24 to 26, 2022 to share their passion, collaborations, and key learnings for land protection, as well as to celebrate the creation of the Alliance of Canadian Land Trusts (ACLT).With representation from land trust practitioners across the country, we heard from over 50 speakers! Land trusts, Indigenous communities, and government representatives presented and participated in 22 incredible presentations and workshops. This conference gave us many opportunities to connect with other land trust practitioners face-to-face, and we are grateful for the opportunity to connect with others in the field in-person.

During the Summit, the interim Board of ACLT and the Canadian Land Trust Working Group had breakfast with the House of Commons Environment Committee and MP Leah Taylor-Roy who commended land trusts during the daily parliamentary session. OLTA’s staff members presented a few of our programs and partnerships at the Summit, as well as organized an incredible in-person 20th anniversary event to celebrate the past 20 years!Materials from the Summit can be found on the ACLT website.

The Ontario Land Trust Alliance collaborated with the Land Trust Alliance of BC, Le Réseau de milieux naturels protégés, and the Alliance of Canadian Land Trusts to organize and present this Summit.We would like to thank all the sponsors for supporting this event, Environment and Climate Change Canada, MapleCross, and Fondation de la faune du Québec. We are incredibly grateful for all the land trust practitioners that made this event great. We look forward to building on momentum from the conference to strengthen our programs and partnerships.

2021 OLTA Digital Gathering

2021 OLTA Digital Gathering  – “People Need Nature – Nature Needs Us”

The Annual Gathering 

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

Thank you to all the supporters, speakers, volunteers and attendees for another successful Gathering!

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 Digital Gathering 2021 but would like to access the recordings? Please contact Phyllis Lee (, OLTA’s Member Services Coordinator.

Check out the tabs below for more information on our “Digital Gathering 2021: People Need Nature – Nature Needs Us” and resources from the sessions!


Schedule at a Glance – 2021

Session Overviews


Session Overview – Monday, October 18, 2021

Welcome / Land Acknowledgement

9:00 am – 9:15 am

Keynote – Biodiversity loss in Canada and Ontario: An Urgent Priority

9:15 am – 10:15 am

Justina Ray, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada


10:15 am – 10:45 am

Get to Know Your Funding Partners

10:45 am – 12:00 am

Erinn Todd, Ontario Land Trust Alliance; Jessica Burns, Wildlife Habitat Canada; Isobel Ralston, MapleCross Foundation

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

Ontario Land Trust Alliance – Annual General Meeting

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Digital Campfire Sing-a-long

7:30 pm

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


Session Overview – Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Morning Coffee – Informal Networking 

8:15 am – 8:45 am

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


8:45 am – 9:00 am

Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership and Indigenous Land Trusts

9:00 am – 10:15 am

Robin Roth, University of Guelph; Ian Attridge, Lawyer (Barrister and Solicitor), and Instructor and Associate at Trent University, School of the Environment; Lisa McLaughlin, Nature Conservancy of Canada; Megan Pagniello, The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

This session will provide an update on leading activities of the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership (CRP) and new developments around Indigenous Land Trusts. CRP is an Indigenous-led national network comprised of Indigenous thought-leaders, Elders and knowledge holders, academics, environmental not-for-profits, Crown governments, and students united in the goal of supporting Indigenous conservation leadership. Robin Roth will outline CRP’s leading initiatives over recent months. Ian Attridge will share on Indigenous consultation requirements for land trusts and exciting developments arising from the Indigenous Land Trust Circle. Lisa McLaughlin and others will explore how national and local land trusts are engaging with Indigenous communities.



10:15 am – 10:30 am

OLTA Programs & OLTA Member Accomplishments

10:30 am – 11:00 am

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.


11:00 am – 11:15 am

Breakouts – Board / Youth / ED & Senior Staff

11:15 am – 12:00 pm

Looking to connect with your peers – youth, board or senior staff? Join one of these breakout rooms for some informal networking.

Lunch Break

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Ontario Climate Action Panel

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Gary Pritchard, 4 Directions of Conservation Consulting Services; Kerry-Ann Charles, Cambium Indigenous Professional Services; Dan Kraus, Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada; Janet Sumner, Wildlands League 

This is the final session in OLTA’s Climate Change Adaptation Series. Panelists will discuss climate change in Ontario, its impacts on our ecosystems and communities, and ways to increase the resilience of conservation lands. The session will include short presentations by each of the panelists followed by a facilitated discussion and Q&A.

Learning Outcomes 

Gain knowledge of climate change in Ontario

Increased understanding of the impacts climate change has on ecosystems and communities

Tangible actions conservation practitioners can take to increase resilience and adaptation of conservation lands and the communities they support


2:30 pm – 2:45 pm

Wildlife Monitoring

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Justin Kestler, Kestler Wildlife; Liv Callo, Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy; Brittney Vezina, Ontario Nature; Toby Rowland, The Couchiching Conservancy

Wildlife monitoring with autonomous recording units (ARUs) in EBC Nature Reserves 

Autonomous recording units (ARUs) are quickly becoming an important tool and component of wildlife monitoring. Understanding their importance and how they function as a way to collect and interpret data in the field is key for avian monitoring – especially for species at risk in remote locations. Justin Kestler and Liv Callo discuss this area in depth and share their findings from the monitoring work in 2020 and 2021.

Learning Outcomes 

Exploring the advantages, limitations and possibilities of autonomous recording units in a wildlife monitoring application with an emphasis on targeting species at risk.

Monitoring snakes using Ontario Nature’s Long-term Monitoring Protocol

More than 50% of Ontario’s 15 snake species are provincially at risk, however, a lack of information about population trends makes it difficult to effectively assess their conservation status. In 2018, Ontario Nature developed a Long-term Monitoring Protocol (LTMP) to help gather baseline information and fill knowledge gaps about Ontario’s snake populations. During this session, Ontario Nature’s Conservation Projects Coordinator, Brittney Vezina, will discuss the methodology behind Ontario Nature’s LTMP, how it can be applied to help conserve snakes, and how individuals and organizations can get involved.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will learn how to use artificial cover board transects to collect data on snake abundance using Ontario Nature’s LTMP. Specifically, participants will learn why cover boards are important, how to select a monitoring site and set up a transect, when and how to monitor cover boards, what data is collected, and how data can be applied to benefit the conservation of snakes and their habitat.

The secret lives of animals

There are certain species that are hard to monitor in the field. They can be elusive, active at night, or very wide ranging. Generally, we rely on tracks, scat, or rare sightings to confirm their presence or absence at a site. For the most part these are mammals such as fisher, flying squirrels, and moose. For these species we have turned to trail cams, which have allowed us to get a glimpse into the lives of these animals when we are not around, and provide concrete evidence of their presence on the nature reserves.

Session Overview – Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Morning Coffee – Informal Networking 

8:15 am – 8:45 am

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


8:45 am – 9:00 am

Best Practices for Managing Risk in Conservation Easement Agreements

9:00 am – 10:15 am

Kathryn Gold (Enders), Ontario Farmland Trust; Jake Tibbles, Thousand Islands Land Trust; Jamie Joudrey, Ontario Heritage Trust

Conservation Easement Agreements are a very useful conservation tool in Ontario, particularly the south where most land is privately owned and sky-rocketing real estate prices make it difficult to purchase land outright. This session will cover some potential issues and risks associated with CEAs including encroachment, managing the transition to a new landowner, and actions land trusts are taking to reduce risks and manage problems that arise. This panel session will include short presentations by three panelists on their experiences followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A.

Learning Outcomes: 

This session will increase awareness of the potential risks associated with holding Conservation Easement Agreements and provide participants with some best practices that organizations use to minimize them.


10:15 am – 10:30 am

Tribute to Bill Dickinson & OLTA Awards Presentation

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Join us as we recognize outstanding individuals.


11:00 am – 11:15 am

Breakouts – Securement / Stewardship / Communication

11:15 am – 12:00 pm

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

Lunch Break

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Risky Business: Defining and Managing Risk in your Organization’s Operations and Programming

1:00 pm – 2:15 pm

Ross Fraser, Cade Associates Insurance Brookers Limited; Connie Manes, Land Trust Alliance/Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative/Kent Land Trust

Have you worried about potential legal challenges, whether or not your land trust is sufficiently safeguarding its assets, or what may happen to your protected lands years from now? How can you best ensure the continued impact and sustainability of your conservation work?

This workshop will help land trust board members and staff understand and identify risk in their organizations; and introduce risk management strategies including mitigation of financial risk through insurance coverage.

Land trust consultant Connie Manes will introduce the discipline of risk management and provide an overview of common areas of risk within land trusts’ governance, financial management, land protection, and stewardship functions.

Ross Fraser of Cade Associates Insurance Brokers Limited will provide an overview of the OLTA insurance program, some of the key coverage considerations and some new exposures to consider.

Ample time will be provided for comments and questions, sharing of resources and recommendations for post-workshop action.


2:15 pm – 2:30 pm

Key Biodiversity Areas: Engagement Organizing Opportunities for Land Trusts

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Stan Kozak, Gosling Foundation; Renata Woodward, Renata Woodward Consulting

In this session we will look at KBAs as a context for applying tried and true organizing practices to become better land trusts for nature. The Key Biodiversity Area (KBA)project is identifying sites essential to sustaining plant and animal populations based on a global standard.  This work will be of critical relevance to land trusts and provide them with an opportunity to enhance their approach and resource base through engagement organizing.


3:30 pm – 3:45 pm


Speaker Biographies 

Justina Ray, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Dr. Justina Ray has been President and Senior Scientist of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada since its incorporation in 2004. In addition to overseeing the operations of this non-governmental organization, Justina is involved in research and policy activities associated with conservation-based planning, environmental assessment and biodiversity conservation. She has been appointed to numerous government advisory panels related to species at risk and land use planning in Ontario and Canada.  She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Department of Ecology and Evolution; Graduate Department of Forestry) and Trent University (Environmental & Life Sciences Graduate Program).

Jessica Burns, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Jessica is the Project Manager, Land Trust Conservation Fund at Wildlife Habitat Canada and has a passion for nature and a spirit for collaboration. She holds a BA in Sociology from Queen’s University and over 10 years of extensive executive administration experience across private, government and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining WHC, Jessica spent 5 years with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority working in Integrated Watershed Management.

Isobel Ralston, MapleCross Foundation

Isobel Ralston holds B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Alberta, respectively, and worked as a Research Associate at the Universität Zürich, Switzerland. Isobel has approximately 30 years’ experience in global drug development. She held senior management positions in established international pharmaceutical companies, directing clinical research and regulatory affairs. She also consulted to the emerging pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, assisting in the overall strategic development and project management of novel pharmaceutical products from proof of concept through all stages of clinical research.

Erinn Todd, Ontario Land Trust Alliance

Erinn is OLTA’s Grant Administrator. She holds a Master of Environmental Science from the University of Toronto, specializing in Conservation and Biodiversity. She also completed a BSc. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. Before coming to OLTA, Erinn worked as the Operations Manager at Green Venture, managing residential energy efficiency programs, bookkeeping, and their demonstration EcoHouse.


Coco Love Alcorn

Recently awarded the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Contemporary Singer Of The Year, Coco Love Alcorn combines diverse musical influences including jazz, R&B, pop, folk, and Gospel. Her love of improvising, and willingness to engage fearlessly with the audience has made Alcorn an established presence on the Canadian music scene. Alcorn’s career has spanned more than 25 years, 9 solo albums, cross-Canada tours, collaborations, festival appearances, award nominations. Coco also leads the Wonderland Singers, an online community choir and creative singing workshop series with over 200 regular members from around the world.

Kerry-Ann Charles, Cambium Indigenous Professional Services

Kerry-Ann Charles is a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. She’s been a Team member of Cambium Indigenous Professional Services (CIPS) since 2017 as the Environment Partnership Co-ordinator. She has worked on by-law development, implementation and enforcement, waste management, housing and various environmental projects including the development, co-ordination and management of such, including the development of community climate change adaptation and implementation plans not only for her community but other First Nation as well. Kerry-Ann has gained International recognition and has been asked to speak across Canada, in the US and Mexico in the area of Indigenous perspectives on environmental initiatives.

Dan Kraus, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Dan is the Director of National Conservation for the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS Canada). He supports and manages WCS Canada’s portfolio of national initiatives including Key Biodiversity Areas, One Health, biodiversity policy and natural climate solutions. Prior to WCS Canada, Dan worked for the Nature Conservancy of Canada for over 18 years. He has authored reports on topics ranging from Great Lakes islands to freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas to natural capital. Most recently he led an initiative to develop Canada’s first list of nationally endemic wildlife and published papers on Canada’s “crisis” ecoregions and approaches to endangered species recovery. Dan is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group, and the Committee on Species at Risk in Ontario.

Janet Sumner, Wildlands League

Janet has more than 25 years’ experience as an environmentalist. She has been the Executive Director of Wildlands League since2003. In 2017, Janet was appointed co-chair of the National Advisory Panel (NAP) with a mandate to provide recommendations on how Canada can meet the Aichi Target 11, protecting 17%terrestrial lands and inland waters in Canada. Janet has led the Wildlands League team in the achievement of substantial legislative reforms in Ontario and federally, notably, for Ontario a new Provincial Protected Areas and Conservation Reserves Act (2007);Mining Act (2009) Reform; Far North Act (2010); and; federally, amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act (2017). Janet is an expert negotiator, strategist and communicator with considerable policy reform experience.

Gary Pritchard, 4 Directions of Conservation Consulting Services

Gary Pritchard ~Giniw (Golden Eagle) is a Conservation Ecologist & Indigenous Engagement/Placemaking Specialist from Curve Lake First Nation, Ontario. Gary has had the privilege to work on behalf of Indigenous peoples throughout Ontario and Canada. He has brought a wealth of knowledge to both his Indigenous and non-Indigenous cliental performing a wide variety of services including: Indigenous Community Planning, land-use/traditional knowledge studies, Indigenous lead conservation and restoration, Ecological Monitoring using Two-eyed Seeing, Indigenous Place-making, capacity building, expert testimony, mediation between western science and traditional science and subject matter expert on behalf of Indigenous communities. One of Gary’s greatest strength is that he is often able to act as the bridge between the Indigenous Community and the western style of governance.

Kathryn Gold (formerly Enders), Ontario Farmland Trust

Kathryn Gold is the Executive Director of the Ontario Farmland Trust. She completed a Masters of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo and a Certificate in Management and Leadership at Laurier University. Prior to her role at the Trust, she spent eight years working for Green Venture in Hamilton, a not-for-profit organization that teaches others how to live more sustainably every day. She is currently on the Board of Governors of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance. Kathryn believes that protecting farmland is one of the most important and pressing environmental issues of our time, and she is excited to be part of the land trust movement.

Liv Callo, Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy

Liv Callo is the Conservation Coordinator at EBC. For the last 2 years, Liv has conducted research into protected areas and species at risk in EBC Nature Reserves which are located along Southern and Northern Ontario. She has developed relationships with key stakeholders including consultants, landowners and other conservation organizations to monitor, understand and emphasize the biodiversity value in EBC land. Liv obtained a master’s degree in Environmental Science at University of Toronto (2019) specializing in Biophysical Interactions in Terrestrial and Aquatic System with focus in Climate Change Adaptation. Back home, she got a BSc in Environmental Engineering (Peru, 2011).

Justin Kestler, Kestler Wildlife

Justin Kestler is a wildlife technician and outdoor educator. He graduated from Sault College’s School of Natural Environment and earned a communications degree from the University of Toronto. He’s been involved in various wildlife monitoring projects and worked as a field technician for Natural Resources Canada, McMaster University and the University of Alberta. His first identification field guide, The Hair Scale Identification Guide to the Terrestrial Mammalian Carnivores of Canada will be released with Pelagic Publishing in 2022.

Brittney Vezina, Ontario Nature

Brittney Vezina coordinates Ontario Nature’s Community Science Program, including projects such as the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas and the Long-term Monitoring Protocol (LTMP) for Ontario’s Snakes. She has been facilitating long-term data collection on Ontario’s snakes since 2019 in collaboration with multiple partners across the province, including provincial and national parks, conservation authorities, land trusts, research stations and private landowners. She also leads data collection for a prescribed burn research project using the LTMP in Norfolk County. She holds a B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Guelph and an M.Sc. in Conservation Biology from the University of Kent.

Stan Kozak, Gosling Foundation

Stan Kozak is Executive Director with the Gosling Foundation.  For the last six years he has been working within the nature sector to enhance capacity through the foundation’s Better Organizations for Nature project.



Renata Woodward, Renata Woodward Consulting

Renata has worked 12 years of working in private land conservation and currently practices as independent  consultant to help charitable organizations with operational and cultural changes such as implementation of engagement organizing.

Jake Tibbles, Thousand Islands Land Trust

Jake Tibbles has worked for over 15 years to conserve and manage some of the most treasured landscapes in the Thousand Islands & St. Lawrence River Valley region.  Appointed Executive Director of the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) in 2012, he has overseen TILT’s Renewal of Accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission, and TILT’s growth in conserved lands, educational programming and staffing.  Jake has presented at both the Land Trust Alliance National Land Conservation Conference and at the New York Land Conservation Summit.

A native of Northern New York, Jake has a life-long passion for the outdoors and a keen appreciation for the importance of the greater St. Lawrence River Valley.  This appreciation has led to his co-ownership in Green Meadow Consulting, which provides capacity support to nonprofits, specializing in the development of baseline documentation reports and land management plans for land trusts.


Jamie Joudrey, Ontario Heritage Trust

Jamie Joudrey is a natural heritage coordinator at the Ontario Heritage Trust, managing a portfolio of 84 properties across Ontario. The properties are protected through a mix of fee-simple Trust ownership and by Conservation Easement Agreements, giving her a breadth of understanding and experience working with landowners and property stewards. Before joining the Trust in 2017, Jamie worked at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as a policy advisor in the Climate Change Directorate for several years. She also worked as a consultant undertaking bioenergy research with international partners such as the International Energy Agency and Environmental Defense Fund. She has a Master of Forest Conservation degree from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Bishops University. Jamie is originally from Nova Scotia but has called Toronto home since 2010.

Lisa McLaughlin, Nature Conservancy of Canada

Over 20 years of progressive leadership within the not-for-profit sector with core expertise in: implementing and managing voluntary, conservation solutions with private landowners and all levels of governments, fundraising, policy and program development and strategic planning. Specific areas of expertise include the application of private land conservation tools, conservation management planning and land stewardship. Significant success in negotiations, conflict resolution and sound decision making when initiating, executing and evaluating programs that meet the needs of donors, stakeholders, funders, citizens and internal partners.

Toby Rowland, The Couchiching Conservancy

Toby Rowland is the Citizen science field coordinator for The Couchiching Conservancy. He has a BSc and diploma in ecological restoration. Toby has worked in Guyana, South America, monitoring for mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. He also has experience surveying for bicknells thrush on the east coast with Birds Canada, and has tracked blandings turtles with the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre. Toby is a wildlife photographer who enjoys getting outside everyday to capture nature.

Robin Roth, University of Guelph

Robin is the principal investigator and member of the leadership circle for the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership. She and her students conduct community-based and ethical research on the impacts of colonial conservation practices and in support of Indigenous-led conservation. She is a Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics at the University of Guelph and coordinates the Master of Conservation Leadership program.

Ian Attridge, Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership 

Ian Attridge is a settler living in Nogojiwanong (Peterborough), Michi Saagiig Anishnaabe territory. As an Associate at Trent University, ecologist and lawyer,  he practices and teaches environmental and non-profit law and has authored numerous publications and policy submissions. Ian has advised diverse land holders, land trusts and governments at all levels, including the Ontario Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment.  Over a 35 year career, Ian has played key roles in developing and applying the legal framework for creative land securement, related tax incentives, protected areas and trails in Ontario. He co-chairs the Indigenous Land Trust Circle of the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership and is part of Indigenous ally groups. He is most at home on the land and waters of the Kawarthas, fostering community.  

Connie Manes, Land Trust Alliance / Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative / Kent Land Trust

Connie Manes lives in Kent, Connecticut and provides organizational consulting services to nonprofit conservation organizations throughout the northeast, with a focus on Land Trust Standards & Practices and Land Trust Accreditation. She is the Executive Director of the accredited Kent Land Trust, and the Director of the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, a Regional Conservation Partnership of 34 land trusts in northwest Connecticut. Since 2013, she has also served as a Circuit Rider for the Land Trust Alliance, providing direct assistance to small and all-volunteer land trusts.  Connie holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Pace University and a Juris Doctorate from New York University School of Law. She chairs Kent’s Conservation Commission. In her free time, she can be found at the hockey rink with her sons, running or hiking, or searching for critters in local streams.

Ross Fraser, Cade Associates Insurance Brokers Limited

Ross began his career working for Wilfrid Laurier University at their growing campus in Brantford, Ontario. Tasked with building local programming for student development, Ross’ primary focus was helping small student non-profit groups deliver big results to the communities they serviced. In 2012, Ross joined Cade Associates Insurance Brokers as a licensed broker with a specific focus on commercial liability insurance for the not-for-profit sector. With the benefit and pleasure of working with hundreds of non-profit organizations, including those participants in the OLTA Insurance program, Ross specializes in liability issues related to organizations acting to protect Ontario’s natural spaces. Ross spends his summer weekends dockside at his family’s cottage on Crane Lake and his winters enjoying the ski hills of Collingwood.

Megan Pagniello, The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Megan is of settler decent and lives and works in Mi’kma’ki, the unceded, traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Political Science and Environment, Sustainability and Society and a Masters degree in Resource and Environmental Management, both from Dalhousie University. Megan joined the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) project in April of 2020 as the Sespite’tmnej Kmitkinu Conservancy Coordinator, which is a shared position between Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Eskasoni Fish and Wildlife Commission and Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources. In her role, Megan is supporting the development and establishment of a Mi’kmaw-led land trust as one mechanism to support IPCA development in the province.

Thank you to our generous supporters of the 2021 OLTA Digital Gathering!


Thanks to all our Auction Donors, including:

2020 OLTA Digital Gathering

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!

2019-2015 Gatherings

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