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A very good year for York’s wine auction
published May 18, 2011

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From left, Mamdouh Shoukri, president & vice-chancellor of York University; FES supporter Valerie Grant; Guy Burry, chair, York University Alumni Association Board; and Michael Koerner, former member, York University Board of Governors

What does a 1981 Château Lafite Rothschild have to do with a bird monitoring project in the Costa Rican rainforest? The bottle of wine was one of the many vintages generously donated to the Fisher Fund Wine Tasting & Auction, an annual event that raises important funds for the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation and York University’s Las Nubes rainforest in Costa Rica.

Now in its ninth year, the event raised more than $143,000 to support conservation research and other activities in the region.

Faculty of Environmental Studies Dean Barbara Rahder served as event emcee and thanked the full room of approximately 100 supporters and wine connoisseurs who turned out for the event April 6. “Your support allows York to send anywhere from 25 to 50 students a year to participate in field courses and research on neotropical conservation in Costa Rica every year,” said Rahder. 

Dr. Woody Fisher (right) with FES grad Rupinder Assi (BES Hon. ’09)

The Las Nubes Rainforest is York’s 133-hectare rainforest in Costa Rica, donated to the University by Toronto physician Dr. Woody Fisher in 1998. York faculty and students, along with international partners, conduct valuable research at the site and work toward protecting the biodiversity of Las Nubes, aiding the sustainable development of local communities and understanding and conserving our global biosphere. Las Nubes, which means “the clouds” in Spanish, is home to countless plants and animals, many yet to be discovered.

York President  & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri praised Fisher, along with his wife, Valerie Grant, for their generous donation and tireless volunteer efforts that have made the auction such a success over the years. “The commitment by Woody, Valerie and others will not only assist our students and faculty with their education and research, but it will continue to support York’s mission to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability.”

Shoukri highlighted the work of York’s Sustainability Council – an advisory body of faculty and students reporting to the Office of the President – as a key component of this mission. Most recently, the council developed a policy for sustainable practices, initiatives and operations at York that was approved by the Board of Governors on April 25. See YFile, May 10.

From left, Sandy Tieman, senior development officer, Division of Advancement at York University; Morley Brown (BA ’75), Brosko Property Management Limited; and FES Dean Barbara Rahder

York alumna Monica Pescador (BES ’09), founder and former president of the Las Nubes Student Association, also announced plans to form a Las Nubes Alumni chapter, fulfilling the wishes of the late Howard Daugherty creator of the Las Nubes program and professor with York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies.

More than 80 lots were included in the auction. In addition to wine, guests had  an opportunity to bid on an Aeron chair donated by the environment-friendly company Herman Miller; a lunch and private barrel tasting for eight people at the Norman Hardie Winery in Prince Edward County; and a dinner experience at downtown restaurant Pangea. 

The event was also supported by Timothy’s Coffees of the World Inc.