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Golf & BBQs: Supporting the next generation of environmental leaders

Golf & BBQs: Supporting the next generation of environmental leaders

The Pocock Family have long been friends of York University, dedicated to supporting students at the Faculty of Environmental Studies by establishing the Adrienne and Donna Pocock Memorial Award.  Don, his late wife Donna and their son Aaron Pocock established an award in honour of their late daughter Adrienne, who was a conscious environmentalist, devoted to grassroots movements and had great concern for her world.  This past summer, two annual events hosted by Don and Aaron Pocock – the annual Memorial Golf Tournament and the Award Recipient BBQ – took place to both raise funds for the memorial endowment, as well as celebrate the recipients of the award.

Friends, family, current and past award recipients at the BBQ
Friends, family, current and past award recipients at the BBQ

“Our daughter Adrienne’s death rendered us absolutely helpless for well over a year,” said Don Pocock. “Despite an unattainable chance of complete recovery, the persistent support from this community has been a true catalyst for our transition. Through numerous networks, York University has provided an opportunity for us to create something positive in Adrienne’s memory. That was the fund in her name.” When Adrienne’s Mom, Donna, recently passed away, she too was named in the memorial fund with her daughter. “Aaron, our son, and I carry this tradition on with love for Adrienne and Donna and with tremendous gratitude to York, all the students, and FES.”

On June 23, 2018, the Annual Memorial Golf Tournament took place at Shawneeki Golf Course in Sharon, Ontario.  This year, tickets were sold out and attendees participated in a full day of activities including golfing, a BBQ dinner and a raffle with exciting giveaways.

Don-Pocock-greeting-guests
Don Pocock greeting guests

“Each year when I arrive at the Shawneeki Golf Course for the annual Adrienne and Donna Memorial Tournament the first thing I see is the sign on the highway with Adrienne and Donna’s name in bold letters and I am reminded of all 45 York students who have received assistance from this fund.  I am also reminded of the many people who have

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

helped to make this fund so successful from the golfers, the organizers, generous donors and to our very good friends at York”. Don Pocock enthusiastically reflects on the event saying, “our raffle prizes this year were extraordinary and the prize table was sagging under the gift load.  The amount raised this year was nearly $11,000, which will be added to the endowment to support additional students throughout the years and of course we’ll be trying to beat that number next year.”

In addition to the annual golf tournament, Don and Aaron Pocock continued their annual tradition of hosting a dinner to recognize and connect current and past award recipients.  “Every year, new students are the guests of honour along with past recipients, making the annual dinner a living breathing entity. This is one of the ways that these two wonderful ladies are remembered by so many and I’m forever grateful.” Every year, 40 guests consisting of students, family and friends from York University are welcomed to Don Pocock’s home for a reunion.  Everyone looks forward to their invitation and current student recipients along with those from many years past are eager to share stories about their research and successes. “A brief description of the evening would be: exuberant mingling, many laughs, hugs, spirited conversation, happy reunions, hors d’oeuvres and wine/beer. The only silence occurs when all sit down to a dinner of steak, fish and veggies.  Afterwards, the students speak, and the other guests are free to question or comment. It’s all extremely casual. Personally, I can’t wait for the next one.”

Noreen Cauley
Noreen Cauley

One of this year’s recipients, Noreen Cauley, a MES described the impact of the award and generosity of the Pocock’s saying “the Pocock award was invaluable in helping me fund my studies as well as affirming the importance of my research. Don and Aaron Pocock, along with all their friends, family, and all the members of the Adrienne Pocock Environmental Circle, are a wonderful and welcoming community of people. It is truly my pleasure and such an honour to be one of this year’s recipients. The evening flew by and I look forward to attending the annual dinner for many years to come.  Cauley’s MES research focuses on sexual violence as both the result and symptom of a human animal disconnect from nature and connecting this disconnect to the prevalence of sexual violence in our culture.

Ryan Guild, the second award recipient this year is concentrating his graduate research on the conservation of orangutans in Indonesia and Malaysia, by examining a unique combination of threats – involving both human and climatic influences. When asked about the impact of the Adrienne & Donna Pocock Award, Ryan explains, “it was because of this award that I was able to travel to and live in Indonesia for my research in the first place. It’s from this experience that I have developed an informed perspective and knowledge surrounding this conservation issue. Like many of the recipients before me, this award has also indoctrinated me into a supportive network of academics and philanthropists from many different backgrounds and interests, which is both unique and extremely important to be a part of within academia. I’m therefore very thankful to be a part of this growing family and will be looking forward to next year’s annual barbeque.”

Don Pocock giving remarks at annual dinner
Don Pocock giving remarks at annual dinner

FES Dean, Alice Hovorka acknowledges the Pocock’s contributions saying that donors like Don and Aaron Pocock, have demonstrated generosity in way that the university and Faculty will always be grateful for.  “Don and Aaron Pocock’s dedication, along with their family and friends have contributed far more than financial aid, they have created a legacy of philanthropy that allows student recipients to further their passions, focus on their studies and become part of a unique community.”

For more information about the Adrienne & Donna Pocock Memorial award, visit go.yorku.ca/adp-award. If you wish to designate a gift towards this find, you can do so online at: go.yorku.ca/give-adp