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Students celebrating United Nations Day

Tom Lewis, recently retired outdoor education specialist at Pickering College, was recognized on November 26 as a recipient of a Healthy Community Award by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA).

Pickering College’s retired Head of Arts Noeline Burk nominated Lewis for the award in recognition of his tireless work in sharing his passion for the outdoors and leading many outdoor adventures for students.

“Tom Lewis is definitely one of the most deserving people for this award,” says Noeline Burk, retired Head of Arts at Pickering College. “His knowledge and expertise are second to none – but it is his willingness to share and his spirited and confident delivery of this over so many years to so many students and fellow teachers that prompted me to nominate him.”

Tom Lewis joined Pickering College in 2008 as the Director of Leadership and Community Service. When Tom retired from full-time teaching in 2013, he took on the part-time position of outdoor education specialist and under his leadership grew an outdoor education program that excites and engages students and teachers. The program makes extensive use of the school’s outdoor education property, Blue & Silver Farm, and the on-campus green space for curriculum-based classes and activities that fosters a love of the outdoors for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. He also enjoyed sharing his love of adventure with students through winter camping trips and excursions on the Nahanni River.

“Our Outdoor Education Program at Pickering College flourished under Tom's guidance and expertise,” says Janet Downer, Assistant Head of School, Academics and Student Programs. “He has a gift for connecting students to the natural environment. Tom is certainly deserving of this award.”

Tom Lewis says the award means a great deal to him and because it was totally unexpected it makes it all the more special.

“I’d like to thank my good friend Noeline Burk for nominating me. We have shared some wonderful outdoor adventures with students over the years,” says Lewis. “I have always loved being outdoors. I find it very healing and spiritually uplifting. I’m so very thankful that during my teaching journey I was able to share my passion with so many students. In particular, I’m grateful that Pickering College shared that passion and allowed me to play a part in the development of a tremendous outdoor education program that I know will continue to grow to the benefit of our students.”

The Healthy Community Award celebrates individuals or groups in our watershed who have completed a project that increases community connections and engagement through events, fairs and festivals; tree plantings; clean-ups and community programs. It also acknowledges significant traditional media or social media coverage; delivering innovative environmental programs or services; as well as sharing knowledge and information through campaigns.​