Speakers & Topics: 2018 BC Nature Conference May 10 – 13


 Krista Kaptein 

“Connecting People with Birds: BC Nature’s IBA Program” 

One of the key stewardship programs of BC Nature is the Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Program.  The IBA Program, initiated by Bird Life International in the 1980s, identifies, monitors and protects the most vital places for birds, in order to direct effective conservation action.  More than ten years ago, BC Nature initiated a province-wide Caretaker Network, connecting people with birds. Volunteer Caretakers are the eyes, ears, and hands on the ground at IBAs, monitoring birds, assessing habitats, and conducting outreach and conservation activities within IBAs.  The talk will include background on the IBA Program, an overview of IBAs in the Lower Mainland, and tips on using eBird: the online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. Read more about IBAs at: http://www.bcnature.ca/projects/iba/ibas-in-bc/ 

Krista Kaptein has been Coordinator of the Caretaker Network for the BC IBA Program for over two years. Previously Krista volunteered and worked for many non-profit organizations in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, including several years with Strathcona Wilderness Institute Society as Coordinator of Programs, Volunteers, Fundraising & Outreach.  Krista also served eight years on the board of the Comox Valley Naturalists Society, and managed the online Comox Valley Nature Viewing Guide project.  That guide became a template for the online BC Nature Viewing Guide project, a similar ongoing project that Krista is continuing to work on for BC Nature.  

James Casey 

"Fraser River Estuary Important Bird Area - Conservation Efforts" The Fraser River Estuary Important Bird Area (IBA) is one of Canada’s richest and most important ecosystems for migrant and wintering birds. The varied landscapes of this IBA support globally or continentally significant numbers of 15 bird species and nationally significant numbers of raptors. Unfortunately, this site has been identified as an ‘IBA in Danger’ by BirdLife International. It overlaps with Canada’s third-largest urban centre, and one of the largest ports on North America’s west coast. As such, the IBA and its wildlife are subject to combined pressures from residential, commercial, and industrial development as well as climate change driven sea-level rise.  In this presentation James will present on some of the initiatives Bird Studies Canada has engaged in aimed at addressing pressures on the delta and explore ideas about what else is needed to secure a functioning healthy future for the Fraser delta. More about the Fraser River Estuary IBA https://www.ibacanada.ca/site.jsp?siteID=BC017 And about Bird Studies Canada BC Programs: http://www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/programmap/index.jsp?lang=EN&targetpg=bcprograms 

James Casey is Bird Studies Canada’s Fraser Program Manager. He writes that, being of the “Oregon Trail Generation” he started his professional life with a detour through professional cooking before earning a degree in International Environmental Policy at the University of Northern British Columbia. After completing school James had the amazing opportunity to work with WWF-Canada on topics ranging from eelgrass and marine planning to hydropower and the Water Sustainability Act.  This experience established a base of knowledge he is now applying to the context of the Fraser estuary where these issues are all intertwined. 

Jill Sturdy 

“NatureHood: Connecting Kids and Families to Nearby Nature” 

There is a growing disconnect between urban Canadians and nature, and youth in particular are becoming increasingly isolated from nature.  Nature Canada’s NatureHood program provides children and their families increased opportunities to explore, play and develop a long lasting relationship with nature in their communities, by connecting them to nature right where they live – we call this Nearby Nature.  NatureHood aims to inspire children with a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature, which will create future leaders to protect the natural places in our communities. With over 75 years of experience, Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada, and seeks to protect and conserve wildlife by engaging Canadians and advocating on behalf of nature. www.naturecanada.ca 

Jill Sturdy joined Nature Canada in December 2016 as the NatureHood Program Manager, and has over 15 years’ experience working to protect wilderness.  Originally from Edmonton, her passion for protecting wildlife led her to study a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences, with a major in Conservation Biology from the University of Alberta.  She started working for the Northern Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and in 2005 moved to Ottawa to focus on national campaigns, including the successful campaign to protect the South Nahanni watershed in an expanded national park reserve. In her spare time, Jill is active in her community and recently joined the school parent council in an effort to acquire trees for her son’s new schoolyard. 

Leslie Bol and Christina Chowaniac 

“Nature Clubs: A path to Healthier Kids, Healthier Communities and a Healthier Planet” 

Today’s children are the future field biologists, academics and environmental campaigners who bring the issues to the attention of their governments and demand change.  However, numerous studies show that kids spend the majority of their time indoors, much of it on screens.  While the indoor world can be enriching in its own way, the experiences that kids can get from being outside are something entirely different.  There will never be a substitute for the direct experience of looking at a sky dark enough to see the beauty of the Milky Way, the surprise of discovering a salamander under a log, or witnessing the downward swoop of a peregrine as it hunts for prey.  Learning about nature while in nature is a core component of NatureKids BC’s Nature Clubs Program.  Learn about how family involvement, volunteer leadership, enthusiastic nature mentors, and local outdoor adventures are the ingredients that make magic happen for kids and families across the province. http://www.naturekidsbc.ca/meet-our-staff/ 

Leslie Bol  has been a co-leader of the Vancouver NatureKids club since September 2015 and is a NatureKidsBC board director as well. Leslie never lost her child-like wonder at the experience of being outdoors and making discoveries in nature.  As a child of the 1970’s she frequented the local park along the Thames River in London, Ontario and walked out along downed logs to discover what was living in the floodplain wetlands. Those early days of freedom and exploration eventually led to a career as a wildlife biologist. She did her MSc research at Mont St. Hilaire in Quebec, Canada's first UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Man & Biosphere (MAB) Reserve. She still gets to do field work from time to time including surveys for frogs. 

Christina Chowaniec is the program Coordinator of NatureKids BC and is responsible for volunteer engagement and program management of our nature club leadership network, ensuring the organization provides the best possible experience for its volunteers and members. She also champions nature clubs in communities across BC, and recruits, supports and manages the many volunteer nature club leaders through coaching, mentorship and communications. Christina has a degree in biology and a background in planning and delivering outdoor adventure tours and leading expeditions. 

Nick Page 

“Vancouver’s Biodiversity Strategy” 

Enhancing biodiversity has become both a functional and cultural goal in the City of Vancouver as part of a wide-ranging sustainability agenda. Unlike many cities which emphasize regulatory approaches to managing biodiversity during development, Vancouver’s urban landscape was largely constructed before environmental values were embedded in urban planning. Most streams were culverted, wetlands were filled, and forests were cut over 100 years ago. But Vancouver has also embraced opportunities to protect and restore remnant natural areas, and Vancouver’s identity is defined as a city surrounded by forests, mountains, and the sea. Residents are captivated by the return of whales to English Bay, beavers to ponds and wetlands, and even a single deer that swam to Stanley Park in 2015. In 2016, a city-wide Biodiversity Strategy was adopted to guide efforts to support the city’s ecological network, and increase access to nature for residents. The City and Park Board have a goal of restoring or enhancing 25 ha of natural areas between 2010 and 2020. The Biodiversity Strategy compliments an existing Bird Strategy, an Urban Forest Strategy, Environmental Education Plan and various development policies as a foundation for supporting biodiversity in the city.  Read the Biodiversity Strategy Report at: http://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/reports/REPORT-BiodiversityStrategy2016-FINAL.pdf 

Nick Page is a professional biologist who works on urban ecology on the south coast of BC. He has a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture (UBC, 1993) and completed a master's of environmental studies at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at UBC in 2003.  His recent work has focused on urban biodiversity, environmental design, and landscape ecology.  He works for the Vancouver Park Board. 

Saturday Banquet at St. John's College



Lori Weidenhammer

Creating Resilient Corridors for Native BC Bumblebees

British Columbia has a rich biodiversity of native bees, including over thirty species of bumblebees. These furry little pollinators have special abilities that other bees lack, making them key pollinators of blueberries and tomatoes. Learn about the bumblebee life cycle and some key plants you can grow, to keep bees of all stripes buzzing in your garden and beyond.  Lori will suggest many bee friendly native plants, including native shrubs and trees suitable for hedgerows and for planting in restoration work. In addition to Bumblebees,  Lori will provide a short overview of native bee species and how the honey bee fits in.

Bio:  Lori Weidenhammer is a Vancouver performance-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is originally from a tiny hamlet called Cactus Lake, Saskatchewan. It is in this place, bordered by wheat fields and wild prairie, that she first became enchanted with bees. She is the author of the book Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees (Douglas and MacIntyre, 2016). For the past several years she has been appearing as the persona Madame Beespeaker, practicing the tradition of “telling the bees”. As a food security volunteer and activist Lori works with students of all ages on eating locally and gardening for pollinators. On occasion, she likes to dress up in silly costumes and talk to bees.  http://beespeakersaijiki.blogspot.ca/ 

Currently Lori is on the team of Super Bloomer community artists in residence in 2018 for Renfrew Park Community Centre.   https://renfrewsuperbloom.blogspot.ca/