|The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club
This award is given in recognition of members who have contributed significantly to the smooth running of the Club over several years.
Gretchen and Tony Denton have been volunteering at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (FWG) for at least 12 years. Their dedication to the project is remarkable and there is little that they have not turned their hands to over this time. Soon after retiring, Tony was inspired to begin volunteering after participating in a spring birding tour of the garden led by Jeff Harrison. Gretchen joined him as a volunteer very soon thereafter.
Gretchen is a mainstay of the volunteer force at the FWG. When we need FWG volunteers to help out with events, be it the Wildlife Festival exhibit at Billings Bridge, the Annual Christmas Party at the garden, or any other similar event, Gretchen is the one who contacts and coordinates the volunteers. She is also a regular part of the Backyard Garden (BYG) group. Tony is the lead on buckthorn control, as well as being generally, a very handy person who helps out with tool maintenance, building, and repair jobs. Take a look at the bench dedicated to Dale Crook in the BYG and the bench in the Butterfly Meadow. Tony is largely responsible for the design and creation of both.
Some little while after joining the FWG volunteers, Tony began working with Dale Crook to remove the invasive buckthorn shrubs. When Dale became too ill to continue, Tony took over and has been working on this from spring through fall for at least 9 years. Thanks to his efforts we have seen a great reduction in this species at the garden. Tony is very good at rounding up willing volunteers and he often has a good group on Friday mornings to help him. He also comes in at other times to work on the buckthorn project, sometimes for long hours alone. Visitors often stop to ask what he is doing and Tony is always willing to take a break and explain. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing this serious invasive shrub and has used his hands-on knowledge of buckthorn control to help others, such as community groups, in tackling this problem.
Gretchen too, has learned a lot about invasive species through her work at FWG, and like Tony, has taken this knowledge and helped others to respond to the threat of problem species. She has commented that in her own neighbourhood she has spread the word about the problems presented by species such as garlic mustard, dog-strangling vine, and of course, buckthorn.
We maintain two bird feeders at FWG during the winter and Tony ensures that they are always filled so no bird has to go hungry. He also performs regular maintenance on the feeders, and when one was vandalized, he built and installed a new one.
With all that Gretchen and Tony do for the FWG, it is good to know that they believe they receive as much as they give. One of the perks of volunteering at the garden is listening to birds and watching wildlife as they work. They definitely enjoy the good company of fellow volunteers at the garden, and appreciate the relaxed atmosphere the FWG provides.
We believe that both Tony and Gretchen have made remarkable contributions, both in terms of service to the club through their work at FWG, and to the furthering of knowledge of invasive species through their outreach work in their neighbourhood and beyond.