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Martha Camfield, George McGee Service Award 2004

The OFNC George McGee Service Award is given in recognition of a member who has contributed significantly to the smooth running of the Club over several years.

Martha Camfield is a very worthy recipient of this award in recognition of her extraordinary service over many, many years as a dedicated volunteer with the Macoun Field Club. Martha has also readily volunteered to assist with numerous plant surveys and inventories in the Ottawa area, and has served on Council.

For many years - as long as many of today's young Macouners remember and longer - Martha has been a dynamic force with Macoun Field Club and the committee that manages it. She has readily volunteered in many capacities with the young naturalists, frequently serving as a leader for meetings, workshops and field trips, and also working to find speakers and leaders for weekly meetings and field trips.

Martha's great "hands on" discovery workshops are a particular favourite of the Macouners. Each workshop is uniquely researched and supported by plentiful plant materials that Martha has collected for dissection or identification - whether it be a variety of roots, seeds, wild flowers, leaves, fruits, shrubs, sedges, exotic plants, and more.

Martha commands instant respect from the young people, who respond to her curiosity and whole-hearted enthusiasm to share and impart some of the truly amazing nature of her subject. Interesting materials coupled with good basic instruction on how to use a hand lens or microscope leads to ready involvement of the young people so that by the end of a workshop everyone has dirty fingernails and a much better idea of how leaves and seeds and roots function. At one session on horsetails, she burned the ends of the plant stalks to show how the silica inside would form "glass-like beads" on the ends. When studying seeds, the air became delightfully filled with cattail fluff! A testimony to Martha's impact is most appropriately captured in the words from one of her workshop participants, who said: "I think that the most important thing that Martha taught us was the wonder that can be in just one seed. Thank you Martha! We all had a fantastic time."

As a Macoun field trip leader, Martha's genuine interest in what each young person was finding would further spur their curiosities and interests. One of her gifts is to help wake people up to the world around them by making the outings and information imparted relevant to them.

Another facet of Martha's long-time volunteerism for the Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club has been through her ready assistance on botanical surveys and inventories of natural areas around Ottawa, most notably with Albert Dugal. Martha's love of the outdoors, of nature and of plants in particular, and her remarkable energy make her a natural at this. Martha has spent many days helping Albert Dugal - walking, collecting and listing plant species as part of inventories or surveys of a long list of natural areas, including the Leitrim wetlands, Spring Hill Bog, Poor Quarry Woods, Canadian Museum of Nature lands in Aylmer, Fern Bank Wetland, and the woodlands east of the Ottawa Hospital complex at Smythe Road, and most recently working on an inventory of old growth species in Emerald Woods, and wetlands that are part of the historic Leitrim Complex.

This truly remarkable service over many years is most deserving of the George McGee Service Award. Thank you, Martha.

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This page was revised on 23 May 2005
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