Environmental Studies celebrates its students and donors

It was an evening of fun, fellowship and gratitude.

The Faculty of Environmental Studies Annual Awards Gala celebrated student accomplishments, research and the important support offered by donors. This year marked the gala’s fifth anniversary and the event, which was held at the historic Gladstone Hotel in downtown Toronto, offered a chance to celebrate award recipients and honour the donors who made the awards possible.

Above: Environmental Studies Dean Barbara Rahder congratulates students with a round of applause

The evening of fellowship opened with words of welcome from Barbara Rahder, dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies. Then emcee Leesa Fawcett, the Faculty’s associate dean, introduced three student award recipients.

Master of environmental studies student Kristi Rudmik was first to the podium. Rudmik, the recipient of the Adrienne Pocock Memorial Award, used the funds from the award to support her research into invasive fire ants in Toronto. Established in honour of the late Adrienne Pocock, an environmentalist devoted to grassroots care and concern for her world, the award provides students with resources for fieldwork. Members of the Pocock family, who also host an annual summer dinner in recognition of their award winners, joined in the formal presentation and celebration.

Graduate student Tina Nelson, recipient of the Tasker Award in Water Resources, spoke enthusiastically about meeting others who shared similar research interests. “Winning this award has had a major influence in the direction of my academic studies. Without it I would not have been able to pursue an internship this summer with Environment Canada,” said Nelson. “The internship introduced me to new possibilities for my research. I was introduced to the field of climate change adaptation and what is being done at the federal level. Seeing how research can be translated into practical application helped guide the direction of my major research paper and taught me new techniques and methodologies.”

Above: FES students, faculty and staff gathered for a group photo as part of the gala

The late dian marino was a visual artist, activist, educator and storyteller, who taught in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. “Known for pushing limits, expanding the boundaries and shattering pre-conceived notions, dian was a trendsetter,” said Fawcett. The dian marino award, created in her memory, supports students who critically disrupt and playfully reframe the traditional boundaries of environmental teaching and learning. Alexis Esseltine, the recipient of the award, shared an excerpt from her film – Eat ‘em to Save ‘em – a documentary about farming practices in Canada, which was produced with the support of the dian marino award.

Longtime friend of FES, York grad, lawyer and philanthropist James Love was honoured with the Friend of the Faculty award for his contributions to the Faculty. York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, who was unable to attend the gala and present the award personally to Love, sent a video tribute congratulating Love and thanking him for his ongoing support, particularly in the areas of environment and sustainability.


To conclude the evening, Rahder and longtime FES supporters and donors Dr. Woody Fisher and Valerie Grant presented FES doctoral student Chris Saker with the inaugural Howard Daugherty Graduate Award in Neotropical Conservation.

Above: From left, FES Dean Barbara Rahder, award recipient James Love, award recipient Chris Saker, and longtime FES supporters Valarie Grant and Dr. Woody Fisher

The award, created to celebrate the memory of Daugherty, who died earlier this year, is granted to a graduate student doing research associated with York’s Las Nubes rainforest reserve and vicinity in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. The Las Nubes Program Committee selects the recipient and it is the only such award currently available for Las Nubes grad students.

Visit the FES website for more information on awards for Environmental Studies students.