Canadian Museum of Nature announces winners of the 2020 Nature Inspiration Awards

OTTAWA, Nov. 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- During an online ceremony this evening, the Canadian Museum announced the winners of its national Nature Inspiration Awards for 2020. These annual awards, which began in 2014, recognize individuals, groups and organizations whose leadership, innovation and creativity connect Canadians with nature and the natural world.

The recipients include a young girl who wrote a book to empower her peers to follow their passions; a dedicated conservationist guiding the stewardship of forests on Prince Edward Island; a not-for-profit engaging Canadians to create habitats for butterflies; a small not-for-profit facilitating conservation projects in the tropics; and an urban farm business that is innovating practices to support local food production. They join other honorees recognized by the museum, which is Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences.

The 2020 awards covered seven categories: Youth (aged 17 and younger), Adults, Not-for-Profits (small to medium), Not-for-Profits (large), Businesses (small to medium), Businesses (large), and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We’re grateful to recognize these Canadians who inspire a connection to the natural world through the efforts of their organisations, businesses and individual commitment,” says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “This year we are all coping with the challenges of a pandemic. The inspiring stories of the honorees are a timely reminder of the importance of living in balance with nature and working towards a sustainable future.”

The 2020 winners include:

  • Eleven-year-old Sophia Spencer, a bug enthusiast and author from Sarnia, Ontario, for inspiring youth to be confident in sharing their passions;
  • Gary Schneider from Stratford, Prince Edward Island, for advocacy and leadership in the conservation and protection of the province’s forests and its botanical diversity;
  • Father Charles Brandt (posthumous), from Vancouver Island, for his decades of leadership as a spiritual mentor and environmentalist, encouraging citizens to take action for local conservation;
  • The International Conservation Fund of Canada, based in Chester, Nova Scotia, for the preservation of threatened ecosystems and wildlife in tropical countries;
  • The David Suzuki Foundation, for inspiring Canadians to volunteer in creating and preserving habitat for butterflies through its Butterflyway project;
  • ULAT Dryer Balls, from Parksville, British Columbia, for developing sustainable business practices and creating the world’s first, wool dryer balls.
  • And urban agricultural producer, Fresh City Farms, for innovative practices and leadership in sustainable, local food production.

Videos about each of the 2020 recipients can be viewed at

A jury selected the winners after paring down the applications to a shortlist of finalists. Winners receive $5,000 that they can designate to a nature-related program of their choice. The 2020 awards were supported by presenting media sponsors The Walrus and The Globe and Mail. Category sponsors were the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada (NSERC) for the Youth award, and Ontario Power Generation the Not-for-Profit (small-to-medium) award.

Winners of the 2020 Nature Inspiration Awards:

Youth category (aged 17 and under) – Sophia Spencer, Sarnia, Ontario
Sophia Spencer, now aged 11, was teased at a young age for her interest in insects. With support from her mother, she co-authored a children’s book, The Bug Girl. She empowers other children, and shares the book’s message of following your passion, via readings and online outreach. Her work is being amplified by scientists who encourage her interest through the social media campaign, #BugsR4Girls.

Adult category – Gary Schneider, Stratford, Prince Edward Island
Gary is one of one of the province’s most respected environmentalists, a champion of biodiversity and a committed advocate for trees, wildlife habitat, and watersheds. He co-founded the Environmental Coalition of P.E.I., a key priority of which is the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project, dedicated to the restoration and propagation of the province's native flora.

Lifetime Achievement Award (posthumous) Father Charles Brandt, Black Creek (Vancouver Island), British Columbia
Charles Brandt, who passed away at age 97 in October 2020, was a teacher, author, and spiritual mentor for the importance of nature in our lives. He devoted decades to protecting and preserving natural habitats on Vancouver Island. Notably, he galvanized citizens, scientists and politicians to clean up the Tsolum River, revitalizing the river’s salmon population after decades of decline due to pollution from an abandoned mine.

Not-For-Profit category (small to medium organization) International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC), Chester, Nova Scotia
The ICFC recognizes that global biodiversity loss is a shared responsibility. It supports conservation projects to protect tropical ecosystems that are most under threat, and has now invested over $27 million in 32 countries. The ICFC’s Mali Elephant Project was recognized in 2017 with the Equator Prize from the United Nations.

Not-For-Profit category (large organization) David Suzuki Foundation, Butterflyway project, Vancouver, British Columbia
This project was founded to create local wildflower, plant and shrub patches across Canada that provide food and shelter for butterflies. As of 2019, this project had enrolled 255 Butterfly Rangers from across Canada who have planted 24,098 plants and established 407 pollinator-friendly patches, including installations at 86 schools and 30 golf courses.

Business category (small to medium organization) ULAT Dryer Balls, Parksville, British Columbia
ULAT is a Canadian wool dryer-balls manufacturer and distributor. It was founded in 2011 by Jennifer LeBrun, as the first wool dryer-ball brand in the world. ULAT is an eco-friendly company – its dryer balls provide an environmentally safe way to replace single-use dryer sheets and the company’s processes contribute to energy conservation efforts and the reduction of water pollution.

Business category (large organization) – Fresh City Farms, North York, Ontario
Canada's largest commercial, urban farm encourages a sustainable and locally focussed relationship between the buyer and food producers. Among its innovations, the business has developed an e-commerce platform that predicts demand to minimize food waste. Fresh City Farms partners with about 75 other farmers who are contributing to organic practices.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature:
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6-million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site,

Information for media:

Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613-698-9253 (cell)

John Swettenham
Director, Marketing and Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613-868-8277 (cell)