Inducted: November 19, 2019
Dianne Flook is a resident of Raleigh Township and is well known for advocating sustainable farming practices, and for creating a better understanding and appreciation of agriculture and farming practices. She is an environmentalist, an agriculturalist, a sylviculturist, and a conservationist.
Dianne was born on April 10th, 1941 in Chatham to Jean Park and Garnet Parry.
She graduated in 1959 from the Chatham Collegiate Institute, 1960 from the London Teachers' College, 1977 from Carleton University with a BA, and in 1983 from the University of Windsor with a Specialist Degree in Special Education.
Dianne married Len Stass in 1963 and they had three children – Andrea Stass, Evan Stass and Arden Stass. In 1980 she married Douglas Flook who had eight children – Brenda (LeClair), Sharron (Arthurton) Elaine, Linda (McBrayne) deceased, Brian, Brent (deceased), Brad and Susan Drouin. From 1960 – 1964, Dianne taught for the London Board of Education, and from 1976-1979 she taught for the Ottawa Board of Education, then taught for the Chatham-Kent Board of Education from 1979 – 2001.
Dianne volunteered with South Kent Trails Association from 2001 – 2014, and she served on the Chatham-Kent Trails Council from 2010 – 2019, serving as President from 2014 - 2019.
Dianne experienced her early on-farm education with cattle, hogs, cucumbers and tomatoes on the family farm in Dover. Then, after marrying Doug Flook in 1980, Dianne continued her fulltime teaching commitments along with becoming a mother to their newly combined family of 11 children. They lived and worked on a 300 acre farm in Raleigh producing tomatoes, cucumbers, peas for processing, specialty beans, seed corn, and soybeans. She helps plan and co-ordinate cropping, harvesting and farm accounting. Dianne has always advocated for sustainable farming practices such as the benefits of windbreaks, and coniferous trees to farm yields.
In 1996, the Harwich-Raleigh Public School was awarded "Earth School" by the SEEDS Foundation of Canada for completing 1,000 environmental projects over 4 years, the leadership of which was shared between Dianne and Cheryl Wolting. The Harwich-Raleigh Public School was the 26th school in Canada and the 5th school in Ontario to receive this award. Dianne and Cheryl worked with school staff, administration, students and parents in the community to carry out various projects, including planning, planting and maintaining the school's Carolinian tree seed nursery and two naturalization areas in the playground, building Blue Bird Houses, recycling pop cans, donating over 1 million pop tabs to the Blenheim Shriners Club, instituting litterless lunches, picking up litter and running a school-wide butterfly recognition contest. Dianne and Cheryl recognized the woodlot at the rear of the school property as an educational and recreational resource by building walking trails in it. In 2015, a new trail was built leading to and through the woodlot, and named the Flook Trail.
She served on the Trillium Grant Review Team in Kent, Essex and Lambton from 2002-2008.
Dianne volunteered with the South Kent Trails Association from 2001 to 2014 helping to create seven trails and raising over $100,000 for trail construction. She also joined the Chatham-Kent Trails Council, serving as President since 2014. Dianne has created and presented several Power Point presentations of Chatham-Kent Trail Council's objectives and accomplishments to create understanding between land owners and trail enthusiasts.
Dianne led local elementary school students in planting Carolinian trees and seedlings along roadways and woodlots. She has planted Carolinian Grasses at Erieau Beach, and the Blenheim lagoon.
In 1982, Flook Farms planted windbreaks of cedar, spruce, pawpaw, sycamore, beech, tulip, coffee, oak and maple trees.
In 2013, Dianne and her siblings donated 2.7 acres along the Thames River to Chatham-Kent as a public park – Parry Landing, which includes a dock and a Tall Grass Prairie demonstration plot with signage explaining the connection between Tall Grass Prairie pollinators and food production.
Dianne worked diligently while serving as President of the Chatham-Kent Trails Council, to spearhead a new trail around the Thames River from Keil Drive on the Dover side to Prairie Siding Bridge up the Raleigh side to Union Gas.
Dianne has dedicated decades of her life to improve the quality of life for the residents of Chatham-Kent through her leadership and support of numerous community projects which benefit the local environment. Through many of the projects, Dianne engaged and inspired many young volunteers who developed a richer appreciation of our natural environment and the value of stewardship.
In 2018, Dianne was awarded the Woman of Excellence Award from Chatham Maycourt.
Dianne also supports the Capitol Theatre, is involved with her church and has led the Harwich-Raleigh Environmental Club from 1989-2001.
Andy Watson notes that Dianne uses her agricultural background and knowledge to influence environmentally sensitive projects, further noting that she has a passion for trees and trails, and her energy in this regard is endless. John and Ann Tesligte note that Dianne's first trail project focused on an abandoned rail bed on the north shore of Rondeau Bay, just outside of Erieau, which had been cleared in 2007 and a gravel walking surface was added in 2008. In subsequent years, a viewing platform overlooking the bay, and a walking/cycling bridge across an agricultural drain made a great 1.6 km walking trail and cycling connection between Blenheim and Erieau.
It is also noted that Dianne has been a long-time advocate and dedicated steward of environmental education, rejuvenation, rehabilitation and protection in the local community for the benefit of all, the initiatives including but not limited to, the implementation of tree planting and erosion control measures on agricultural land, the leadership and mentorship of environmental clubs/programs for youth, the development and preservation of Carolinian nursery and naturalization areas. She is recognized locally as a visionary, working tirelessly and selflessly to develop, protect and secure environmental legacies for the current generation and for generations to come.
Supporters' comments have also been added as follows:
– John Jordan – "Her ability to draw out community support for projects and initiatives makes Dianne an ideal candidate for this honour."
– Anne Heinhuis – "She pursued all these projects because of her continuous love and commitment to the environment, and her community … NOT for accolades and awards."
– John and Ann Tesligte – "..This trail has been named Flook Trail in honour of her visions and leadership…"
– Jane McGeachy – quotes – "Margaret Mead. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
– Charles Baldwin says Dianne has been and is truly a forward thinking, hard-working pioneer of agricultural concerns in thoughts, products and commitment.
– Ken and Barb Denure said Dianne is recognized locally as a visionary, working tirelessly to develop, protect, and secure environmental legacies for this generation and for generations to come.