The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust recognized a student protestor and a beekeeper as this year’s enviro-heroes Dec. 5.
The community celebrated high schooler Jürgen Shantz and apiarist Ron Lofthouse at the organization’s annual holiday open house.
The awards recognize people who have made a major contribution to the protection and sustainability of natural resources and the environment.
Shantz lead a strike from high school for several weeks to spur action on climate change, in the vein of famed protestor Greta Thunberg.
“It’s nice to be recognized for something you worked hard for,” Shantz said. “I felt crappy about the state the planet was in and how everyone was reacting to it.”
“We need citizens, especially young people, to participate in making this world a better place,” Mayor Andrea Roberts said in a letter about Shantz read during the ceremony. “I have no doubt that he will go on to great things in his career and personal life.”
Ron Lofthouse has kept bees for more than 50 years and promoted the practice through workshops. He said the last beekeeper on record in the County of Haliburton before he moved here 10 years ago was in 1841.
Now, approximately 50 have registered. He said with the bee population struggling, he wanted to help make whatever difference he could.
“It’s important to have more beekeepers,” Lofthouse said. “Our county requires better pollination than what it has had from wild bees and other pollinators.”
“We know the dire consequences we will face if they do not survive,” chair Mary Lou Gerstl said. “The work that Ron Lofthouse does has greatly helped at bringing attention to the wonderful and fascinating things.”
Lofthouse is still promoting beekeeping, with his next workshop planned for Feb. 29.
“We have to create more crops from more arable land to feed our planet. That requires the help of the bee,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shantz said he is taking a step back from climate change protests to focus more on his schoolwork in his graduating year. But he added he hopes to be part of the protests in the future, once he gets into university.
“It’s just something you can’t ignore,” Shantz said. “You have to acknowledge it and do something about it.”