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Recipients of the 2012 Minister's Award for Environmental Excellence

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Recipients of the 2012 Minister's Award for Environmental Excellence

CleanFARMS, Toronto -- This not-for-profit agricultural industry-led group helps Canada's farmers protect the environment. The group provides free, voluntary collection programs for plastic wastes and leftover pesticides found on farms. This keeps these wastes out of landfills, and out of the environment.

Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, Goderich -- This not-for-profit group works with municipalities, communities and individuals to protect sand dunes by planting native grasses.  Healthy sand dunes protect the coast from high winds and waves, help improve water quality, and keep beaches clean.

Pine River Watershed Initiative Network, Ripley -- This grassroots, not-for-profit group builds habitat and improves water quality in its corner of the Lake Huron watershed. The group worked with landowners, municipalities, conservation authorities, and others to plant more than 200,000 native trees along 20 kilometres of riverbank, and built fences to keep cattle out of the river.

Toronto Zoo -- The zoo runs a free program that combines classroom lesson plans with hands-on projects that let kids build habitat and stock fish while teaching them why the Great Lakes should be protected. The program is for grades one, two and seven, and reaches about 20,000 students in 600 classrooms from Kingston to Niagara each year.    

York University -- Students and faculty reduced their energy use in several student residence buildings by 30 per cent in the last three years through the "Res Race to Zero" competition. The program raised awareness, saved money, reduced demand on Ontario's power grid and helped reduce air pollution.

Y U Ranch, Tillsonburg -- A Longhorn cattle farm is using smart farming practices to improve the environment. The ranch feeds its cattle a native prairie tallgrass that does not need chemical fertilizers and pesticides to grow. The result is cleaner air, cleaner water, and a healthier food source for cattle.

Honourable mention

The Lake Ontario Waterkeeper -- This grassroots, not-for-profit group developed a beach tracking smartphone and web app that helps people find a beach, and check the latest information on water quality. It is the first time that water quality data from beaches, collected by local health units around the province, is available in one spot.

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