Colin Stewart Conservation Award 2023

This one was special. Kind of Full Circle. The 2023 Award was given to Betty Hodgson,  spouse of Colin Stewart after whom this award is named and who died prematurely in 2004. Betty clearly shared with Colin, a love of nature and a drive to nurture nature and human enjoyment of and caring for our natural world.

Betty Hodgson (left) in 2015, presenting The Colin Stewart Conservation Award to Bonnie Sutherland who received it on behalf of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust

Betty Hodgson

Born in New Brunswick, Betty was married to Colin Stewart, after whom this award is named and who died prematurely in 2004. Betty was a constant companion with Colin at HFN events and has remained well known to us. Betty had a daughter with Colin and she now has a grandchild.

As Betty began to anticipate retirement from her nursing career in HRM, she started looking for a place to retire and in 2009 “stumbled” on a property on the way to Pugwash. It had  some acreage and a view of Northumberland Strait, with PEI in the background. The sign said “Home for Sale,” and Betty bought it. She retired in 2012, and by September had moved to her new home.

Moving into an area where she knew few people, Betty looked for some kind of local activity to get involved in. The curling club filled that bill. There she got to know Alice Power, who was involved in all sorts of activities, especially those addressing the environment. One of them was Friends of the Pugwash Estuary (FoPE), established in 2005. Alice, a founding member, was the chair and soon had Betty interested in volunteering to help.

Betty, having been married to Colin, was well steeped in, and committed to, environmentalism and conservation, so FoPE was a good fit. In 2013 FoPE gained ownership of a property with a house on it (“Estuary House”) , and Betty did whatever she could to help out, including taking on more and more governance responsibilities. When Alice died in 2018, Betty became chair, a position that she holds today.

Betty has fostered links with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited, Village of Pugwash, Government of Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University, Community Aquatic Monitoring Program (DFO), Northumberland Links Golf Club, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Program, Adopt-a-Stream, Stewards of Nature, Cumberland County Sustainable Development Strategy, Jost family, and sought summer jobs for students. Her activities include Harbourfest, annual flotillas, trail building, guided hikes, field trips, bird counts, estuary tours, public information, and nature interpretation.

A priority for Betty is to continue building ties with like-minded organizations. FoPE’s partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (which maintains a large nature reserve in the Pugwash Estuary) continues to strengthen. She is also building expertise within the organization about restoring and increasing biodiversity. Her personal goals include getting more people into contact with nature and helping them appreciate the need for biodiversity.