Dr. Jack Vallentyne : Environmentalist of the Year – 1989

Dr. Vallentyne has a long, distinguished career as an environmental advocate, both in his profession and in his deep commitment to and involvement in environmental education in the community.

Born on July 31, 1926, Dr. Vallentyne was raised in Brantford where he first developed a keen interest in water, nature and ecology from hiking and canoeing in the Grand River and surrounding woodlands.

Dr. Vallentyne received his undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry from Queen’s University and his graduate degree from Yale University, where he completed his thesis in Limnology and Biogeochemistry.

After completing his studies, Dr. Vallentyne taught biology at Queen’s University and then zoology at Cornell University. Since 1977, he worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters and as of 1990 was the Senior Scientist for the Ontario Region. He has lived in the Burlington and Hamilton areas since 1977.

Outside of his professional commitments, Dr. Vallentyne is perhaps best known as the creator of “Johnny Biosphere”, who was born from Dr. Vallentyne’s desire to put science to work for people by trying to focus world attention on the biosphere. (www.johnnybiosphere.ca). Dr. Vallentyne has addressed conventions and community groups all over the world with a globe of the earth strapped to his back to bring home the message that “the time has come to put all things together, to integrate them to the eco-system we live in.

Dr. Vallentyne’s message has encouraged many both in our community and internationally to become aware of the impact of our actions on the environment and to play an active role in environmental protection. His achievements greatly deserve our recognition as this year’s Environmentalist of the Year.

Thousands of area children know Dr. Vallentyne as Johnny Biosphere, the man who carries a globe on his back while preaching the need to save the environment…. The symbolism is apparent to everyone. We are carrying the world on our shoulders; we are responsible for the future of the Earth and how it is treated, he is saying.

Dr. Vallentyne believes – and rightly so – that the salvation of our ecology depends on the views of our future generations. And what better way to stem the tide of exploitation than by teaching our children.

Excerpts from Editorial, Brabant Newspapers Ltd. May 23, 1990.