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2016 George McGee Service Award: Sandra Garland

This award is given in recognition of a member who has contributed significantly to the smooth running of the Club over several years.

Sandra Garland has been involved with the OFNC for many years and in many capacities. She has been active in the Publications, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Computer Management Committees, as well as in several ad hoc groups. Her contributions have been vast; however, the Club would like to highlight four of her outstanding accomplishments.

In 1997, Sandy responded to an ad in Trail & Landscape looking for someone who was "fully conversant with HTML, and [could] surf the web in their sleep." From that point on, Sandy became known as the OFNC Webmaster. Her initial duties were to develop and coordinate committee sites, and to "perhaps provide inter-linking via an OFNC website." It began as an information hub where she would update the site with material submitted by members of the various committees. That was 20 years ago, and things change over time. She continues to update the website regularly, but she also writes and edits articles posted on the OFNC blog and the Fletcher Wildlife Garden newsletter. She routinely fields queries submitted to the OFNC and will respond directly if she knows the answer or, if not, will forward the question to the right person. Thanks to Sandy, people receive answers as promptly as possible. She has also co-administered the Club's Facebook Group which has more than 1000 members. The hope in 1997 was to have a site that was dynamic, with continuous updates and new material posted regularly. Sandy has accomplished precisely that.

Sandy is the force behind the Fletcher Wildlife Garden's annual Native Plant Sale. Her expertise and efforts to produce hundreds of native plants allow people to plant them in their gardens without destroying a patch in nature. Preparation for the sale begins in the fall when seeds are collected from Fletcher and some nearby sites. The seeds are then either stored indoors or potted and planted in the outdoor nursery. In January, the stored seeds are potted and propagated at the Interpretive Centre. From January to April, Sandy ensures that they have the proper light, moisture and temperature requirements for producing healthy plants. If conditions are not right, the plants die leaving very little for the sale.

The devastation of the Old Woodlot after the Emerald Ash Borer moved through was immense. After 57 dead trees were removed, a number of non-native plants, such as burdock and motherwort, took off. Then there is the continuous battle with garlic mustard and dog-strangling vine. The Old Woodlot desperately needed revitalizing, but it seemed like such a daunting task. Sandy accepted the challenge. She, on behalf of the Club, began by selecting nine native tree species from the Ferguson Forest Nursery, to be planted in the area. Then, on Tuesday afternoons, she coordinated the weekly volunteer duties that ranged from removing large non-native plants and invasives, to planting trees, shrubs and wildflowers, to hunting down saplings planted the previous year that were engulfed by weeds.

A new strategy for tackling large or difficult projects was recently adopted at the FWG. The strategy is to create "nodes," a place or feature where volunteers work to create, preserve or protect the flora and fauna within. A node is small enough that a volunteer can work on it independently and will be able to see results within a short period of time. Examples include: brush piles, dog strangling vine "crop circles" or the insect motel. It was Sandy who volunteered to become the coordinator of the node-nanny group where she solicited volunteers and would help them get started on their various nodes. She became the Tuesday afternoon go-to person who would welcome the node nannies, open the sheds, and chat with them about their goal for the day and a strategy of achieving that goal.

If all of the above is not enough, Sandy continues to support public outreach at the FWG and, more recently, has taken on the duties of copy editor for The Canadian Field-Naturalist.

Awarding the George McGee Service Award to Sandy Garland is a fitting response to her long and dedicated service to the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club. Congratulations Sandy!

Prepared by Karen McLachlan Hamilton

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This page was created 15 March 2017
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