Andrés Jiménez Monge

Andrés joined the Weston Family Foundation in May 2022. He is responsible for managing the Foundation’s Conservation programs.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Andrés worked as an Urban Program Coordinator, and later Manager, with Birds Canada. In his time with Birds Canada he led and scaled their national urban program to enrich urbanites’ experience of nature and deepen urban engagement in bird conservation across Ontario and Canada. Andrés also worked for several years in his home country of Costa Rica as a conservation manager for national and international organizations.

Andrés holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Costa Rica, a Masters in Environmental Studies and Environmental Problem Solving from York University, and a Business & Sustainability Diploma from Schulich School of Business. He was also awarded the Caribbean Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leader International Fund for Animal Welfare and USA Wildlife and Fisheries Service.

Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook joined the Weston Family Foundation in January 2022 as a Grants Coordinator. She is responsible for supporting the operational needs of programs related to the Weston Family Microbiome Initiative and Northern Science and Knowledge.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Sarah worked on the Operations and Finance teams for a number of Canadian and international non-profit organizations including the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation.

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Development Studies and a Postgraduate Certificate in International Development Management.

Letters of Intent now being accepted for the Weston Family Soil Health Initiative

Loss of biodiversity on agricultural lands is occurring at an unprecedented rate due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss. But research shows that Canada’s agricultural lands offer an immediate and large-scale opportunity to mitigate further biodiversity losses, and by promoting and increasing soil organic matter, we can help support more adaptive and resilient agricultural lands.

The Weston Family Foundation is proud to be launching its first Weston Family Soil Health Initiative to expand the adoption of ecologically-based beneficial management practices (BMPs) that increase soil organic matter in order to improve biodiversity and resiliency in agricultural lands.

The initiative’s goal will be supported by the Foundation’s longer-term strategy which is comprised of catalyzing and shepherding ‘winning approaches’, to ultimately scaling projects with the greatest opportunities for impact.

Important dates

Information Webinars: April 18, 2022 @ 1 pm ET (register here) and April 25, 2022 @ 1 PM ET (register here)

Letter Of Intent deadline: May 11, 2022 @ 8:00 PM ET / 5:00 PM PT

Proposal deadline (for invited applicants): July 18, 2022 @ 8:00 PM ET / 5:00 PM PT*

Anticipated award announcement: Early October 2022*

*Subject to change

Fore more information about the Weston Family Soil Health Initiative, please visit our Grant Calls page and follow us on Twitter @westonfamilyfdn

Weston Family Soil Health Initiative

Program Overview

Loss of biodiversity on agricultural lands is occurring at an unprecedented rate due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss. Research shows that Canada’s agricultural lands offer an immediate and large-scale opportunity to mitigate further biodiversity losses, and by promoting and increasing soil organic matter, we can help support more adaptive and resilient agricultural lands.

Goal: The initiative seeks to expand the adoption of ecologically-based beneficial management practices (BMPs) that increase soil organic matter in order to improve biodiversity and resiliency on agricultural lands across Canada. The LOIs will allow the Foundation to understand the opportunities and comprehensive project ideas that currently exist, in order to build an informed framework for the proposal phase.

The initiative’s goal will be supported by the Foundation’s longer-term strategy which is comprised of catalyzing and shepherding ‘winning approaches’, to ultimately scaling projects with the greatest opportunities for impact. Successful applicants who meet the defined selection criteria within the LOI will be invited to submit full proposals.

Strategy: The initiative aims to increase the number of agricultural producers using BMPs that are scientifically proven to help increase soil organic matter on farmland. Through multi-year investments, the initiative aims to promote a behavioural shift towards the wider acceptance and adoption of the following BMPs:

  • Cover Cropping;
  • Nutrient Management (4R Principles); and
  • Crop Diversification/ Rotation.

Project Eligibility: Our strategy is designed to test which of the following approaches maximize the adoption rate of the desired BMPs in an efficient and scalable manner. Eligible approaches include:

  1. Incentivizing Stewardship: Projects which incentivize producers to adopt one or more of the identified BMPs (e.g. reverse auctions, community-based models).
  2. Outreach/Education and Training: Projects which increase access to, share technical knowledge of, and train producers on the identified BMPs.
  3. Sustainability Certification/Standard: A project which aims to establish a sustainable farmland management certification/standard at scale.

Funding: The timeframe for this ‘spark phase’ will run 3-5 years in length with a total funding envelope of $10M.

Project Roundup: The Great Lakes Challenge

When our Foundation connected with non-profit organization Swim Drink Fish in 2017 to launch the Great Lakes Challenge, we did so to champion projects with several key goals in mind.

As part of a larger commitment to protect freshwater that included a separate Nature Conservancy of Canada initiative on Lakes Superior and Erie, we wanted the Challenge projects to focus on conservation of Great Lakes waters, wetlands, and key tributaries. We wanted to invest in efforts that would make major, sustainable impacts over the long term but start delivering results in the short term, alleviating threats such as polluted water and loss of habitat for species at risk. We wanted to create tangible outcomes that the citizens of the Great Lakes could recognize, experience and enjoy — building on the idea that people who are connected to the water are more likely to protect it.

Thanks to the dedication, drive and vision of many, these goals have been achieved.

Click here for the full story.

The Great Lakes Challenge

When our Foundation connected with non-profit organization Swim Drink Fish in 2017 to launch the Great Lakes Challenge, we did so to champion projects with several key goals in mind.

As part of a larger commitment to protect freshwater that included a separate Nature Conservancy of Canada initiative on Lakes Superior and Erie, we wanted the Challenge projects to focus on conservation of Great Lakes waters, wetlands, and key tributaries. We wanted to invest in efforts that would make major, sustainable impacts over the long term but start delivering results in the short term, alleviating threats such as polluted water and loss of habitat for species at risk. We wanted to create tangible outcomes that the citizens of the Great Lakes could recognize, experience and enjoy — building on the idea that people who are connected to the water are more likely to protect it.

Thanks to the dedication, drive and vision of many, these goals have been achieved.

In all, our Foundation provided $2.25 million to the Great Lakes Challenge, with an additional $9 million leveraged from other sources. These grants funded nine individual initiatives, resulting in 22 kilometres of fish habitat restored, 37 hectares of coastal wetland protected and 43,000 plants added to the Great Lakes shoreline. The collective work continues our Foundation’s long history of conservation work in Canada, protecting and restoring water, forests, and farmland critical for ecosystem health and biodiversity.

From the beginning of the Challenge, the team at Swim Drink Fish worked closely with municipalities to pinpoint projects that not only addressed areas of need but also created opportunities to inspire and transform other Great Lakes communities.

One of the first projects to reach completion — the revitalization of Breakwater Park in Kingston, Ont. — brought new life to an existing public space, further strengthening the connection between the community and Lake Ontario. In the planning process, project leads focused on both the lake and the adjacent land, restoring fish habitat and shoreline as well as adding accessible pathways and seating along the waterfront. Finally, the team built a new pedestrian bridge and created a one-of-a-kind swimming spot — Canada’s first urban deep-water swimming pier.

Named after late Tragically Hip singer and Kingston native Gord Downie, the Gord Edgar Downie Pier has quickly become a popular community hub and an important way for locals to experience the Great Lake that is theirs to value and enjoy.

Further south, another Challenge project looked to rehabilitate one of the Great Lakes system’s most degraded areas. Located in the Detroit River, near the mouth of St. Clair Lake and just north of Lake Erie, Peche Island is an important refuge for species at risk in a globally significant freshwater ecosystem. But boat traffic in the river has eroded it, threatening some of the last surviving habitat in a Great Lakes Area of Concern — experts say the river has already lost more than 95 per cent of its coastal wetlands.

As part of the Great Lakes Challenge, the City of Windsor and the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup worked to solve the problem of disappearing habitat by creating new habitat from scratch. After some pandemic-related delays, crews began building a series of small islands in the river. The work involved the use of cranes on floating barges and many tons of rock, but the resulting “rock reefs” will help protect the island and create calm water necessary for fish spawning and the growth of aquatic vegetation to promote biodiversity.

As a final step, a community stewardship program now teaches locals and visitors to identify at-risk fish species such as lake sturgeon and Northern madtom. This will build a greater number of knowledgeable stewards and caretakers of the revitalized waterway.

Not all of the Challenge initiatives were quite so large in scope. The Copeland Creek project in Tiny, Ont., created a major impact by focusing efforts in a small area.

The issue at hand in this case was an outdated culvert under a bridge where the creek crossed paths with the Trans Canada Trail. The culvert choked off the free flow of the creek, creating barriers for fish species such as the brook trout and eliminating habitat for migrating birds. So crews removed the culvert, stabilized and naturalized the banks underneath the bridge to prevent erosion, planted new vegetation along the creek, and installed signage to educate all those passing by along the trail.

This created a wide swath of positive outcomes, from rejuvenating the creek so it can flow freely into Lake Huron’s Severn Sound to providing a case study for how recreational and conservation efforts can co-exist.

Other projects included the restoration of public swimming access in Frenchman’s Bay and the replacement of hardened shoreline once dominated by a former coal-fired power plant in Mississauga, Ont., to create new wetland habitat.

All told, the nine projects reminded us how important communities are to the health and revitalization of the Great Lakes. They also demonstrated a successful model for other revitalization projects and delivered major impact by improving biodiversity and connecting more Canadians to these irreplaceable bodies of water.

Applications now being accepted for the 2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the 2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research. Through a competitive process, these awards are presented annually to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from across Canada.

As of Nov. 4, 2021, the Weston Family Awards are open to students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees, or a postdoctoral fellowship. Past winners have undertaken research projects across a broad spectrum of fields and disciplines in the natural sciences, including studies of northern ecosystems, biodiversity, flora and fauna, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology, geography and environmental studies.

Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than 300 early-career researchers have been selected to receive an award, forming a community of Weston Family Northern Scientists who are at the forefront of northern scholarship and who are helping shape a better future for Canada and the world. In the most recent round of awards, 27 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects, including bird biodiversity, polar bear ecology, permafrost thaw, beluga health and Inuit knowledge.

The deadline to submit an application for the current awards program is Jan. 27, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. (EST). For more information, please visit www.westonfamilyawards.ca.

Congratulations to the winners of the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Awards in Northern Research were launched in 2007 to support early-career researchers focusing on science in the North. Since that time, nearly 300 scientists have been funded at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

Through a competitive process, awards are presented to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from universities across Canada. This year, 27 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects, including bird biodiversity, polar bear ecology, permafrost thaw, beluga health and Inuit knowledge.

Read more about the work of this year’s award winners here: 2021 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

Earth Rangers

Since 2011, the Weston Family Foundation has supported Earth Rangers’ mission to foster environmental education and to encourage every child to take action towards the conservation of the North.

Earth Rangers’ national Wildlife Adoptions Program helps to educate children and empower them to improve the environment and protect animals. Foundation support has enabled more than one million children and their families to learn about the caribou, polar bear and beluga whale, bringing a deeper understanding of northern species to new audiences. As a result, Earth Rangers has been successful in engaging families across the country to support biodiversity and conservation in Canada’s North.

For more information, visit the Earth Rangers website: www.earthrangers.com

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Encouraging meaningful and informative collaborations is at the core of the Foundation’s work to enhance scientific research and shape dialogue about Canada’s North. The Foundation supports organizations that build new alliances and forge significant relationships between environmental organizations, decision makers and other key stakeholders.

Across the Northern Boreal forests and the western Arctic, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS Canada) is supported by the Foundation to ensure that scientific data is available to guide decisions for the protection of species and ecosystems through such meaningful collaborations.

WCS Canada also administers the Weston Family Foundation Fellowships, which allow the next generation of northern researchers to work alongside leading scientists, thereby enhancing their graduate-level work and informing new conversations. The annual fellowships are awarded to support field research relevant to WCS Canada’s conservation objectives at their two long-term conservation sites: the boreal region of Northern Ontario and the Northern Boreal Mountains of Yukon and British Columbia.

For more information on the Fellowships, please visit the WCS Canada Fellowships page

For details on the accomplishments of the program, please review the 2009-2019 WCS Canada Fellowship Program Report