Conservationist Leora Berman’s days are busy as she gives children hands-on lessons about turtles and the value they bring to the ecosystem.

Berman is running summer camp to teach kids to be turtle guardians. Whether trying to save turtles, improve lake health, teach about shorelines or start a children’s museum, she keeps herself occupied.

“It’s just the way God built me. I can’t sit still,” Berman said. “I can’t look at a problem and not try to do something. I haven’t even reached the targets that I wanted. I’ve only just begun.”

The Haliburton native’s conservation work was recognized with the 2019 Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Roland Michener Conservation Award in June. She will also be featured in upcoming editions of the Canadian Wildlife and Biosphère magazine

“I’m over the moon,” she said about receiving the award. “It’s a different kind of humbling.”

Berman is currently the chief operating officer of The Land Between, a grassroots environmental organization which does work across eastern Ontario. She has also worked for Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry over her 22-year career.

The eligibility for the award, named after Canada’s former Governor General, is “any individual who has demonstrated a commitment to conservation through effective and responsible activities that promote, enhance and further conservation of Canada’s natural resources.”
Berman’s friend Tracey McCann said she submitted the nomination and felt Berman was deserving.

“I don’t think she gets enough recognition for the work she does,” McCann said. “I figured she deserved a big thank you.”

Berman said all of her conservation jobs have motivated her. But she found The Land Between suited her especially well and gave her more freedom than government work. As the group’s co-founder, she said it started as a one-year project but ended up much larger than imagined.

“I don’t know if it is a problem but I always go big,” she said. “You’ve got to shoot high. Otherwise, you’re not going to make it.”

Winning the conservation award also helps put a new spotlight on the Haliburton Highlands, Berman added.

“It is encouraging to be able to represent the conservation sector in this way, but also to showcase the Highlands,” she said. “This area, also known as the Land Between bioregion, is so vibrant and also essential to our collective future and well-being in Ontario.”

She sees the area as something worth vital and worth fighting for.

“They’re certainly my heart and soul, the highlands,” she said.

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