Staff

Allison DeanAllison Dean - Watch for Wildlife Coordinator

Allison Dean is our Watch for Wildlife Program Coordinator. Although born in Atlantic Canada, Allison grew up in Texas where she attended St. Edward’s University studying environmental science and policy along with graphic design. During her time there, she worked on a number of campaigns advocating for sustainable initiatives and climate change solutions in the City of Austin. Upon graduation, she decided to come back to her roots and moved to Nova Scotia. As a lover of nature and the outdoors, she is passionate about working with the public to find solutions to environmental issues. In her free time, Allison can be found hiking, swimming, or on her bike zipping around the city.


Gretchen Fitzgerald

Gretchen Fitzgerald - National and Altantic Chapter Director

Gretchen Fitzgerald is the National and Atlantic Canada Chapter Director of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation. Her work focuses on environmental impacts of mines, volunteer engagement, and climate change. Having grown up in northern Newfoundland, Gretchen witnessed the impacts of the collapse of the cod fishery on her community and was drawn to marine biology and conservation ecology as a student at Dalhousie University.

She has produced a report on the harpoon swordfish fishery, spearheaded activity on marine invasive species and ballast water management in Atlantic Canada, and is currently working to decrease the ecological footprint of mines and to get action on climate change. Gretchen has participated as an expert in numerous environmental assessments, including the Joint Panel Review for the Digby Quarry. She is vice-chair of the Nova Scotia Environmental Network, Director of the Canadian Environmental Network, and represents Sierra Club in the Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition.

Contact Gretchen at gretchenf@sierraclub.ca or call 902-444-7096 .

Lauren VernerLauren Verner - Atlantic Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator

Lauren is a recent graduate from the University of New Brunswick, where she received a degree in Environment and Natural Resources, specializing in Wildlife Conservation. Lauren is passionate about environmental issues and making a positive difference in her community. Over the years she has gained valuable experience working with many types of local and exotic wildlife, through opportunities working with the Saint John Zoo, volunteering at Nashwaak Valley Farms and with Little Ray's Nature Centre.
In her free time, you can find Lauren outside exploring nature trails, watching birds or relaxing at the beach. She is also an avid musician who loves to sing, and play the guitar, ukulele and piano. She is an amphibian fanatic, and is mother to 3 mexican salamanders that bring endless joy to her life. 
Lauren looks forward to helping create a greener future for all, that includes protection for valuable wildlife species and ecosystems in Canada. 

Wild Child PEI Staff

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Hannah Gehrels, PEI Wild Child Projects Coordinator

“I’ve seen how spending time outdoors can transform a child. My role is to awaken the sense of wonder, curiosity, and excitement in discovering new mysteries in nature in the kids I spend time with. These kinds of experiences stick with us throughout life, and are incredibly important for building personal resilience and wellbeing, and for fostering future environmental champions who feel connected to our natural world”.

Hannah comes from the beautiful Canadian Shield in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She has a BSc. in Biology from Simon Fraser University where she had opportunities to research frogs, songbirds, fish, and completed an honours project on native pollinators. She also has a MSc. in Biology from UPEI where she was researching invasive green crabs. Hannah was a Marine Sciences Educator at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island, and was Coordinator of the Lets Talk Science Program at UPEI. Currently, Hannah sits on the board of the Environmental Coalition of PEI. She spends her free time playing board games, nerding out about fungi, and volunteering with many community groups around Charlottetown. Hannah took the Forest School Practitioner’s course summer of 2017 and is currently working to complete the course work for this course. 

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Deanna Corrigan, Wild Child Forest Educator

“And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.” -Shanti

Deanna is originally from Prince Edward Island, moved to moncton, New Brunswick with her family as a child, and delightfully returned back to the Island two years ago. She has been working in Childcare for the past ten years and absolutely loves it. She has a strong passion for wildlife, spending time in Nature, and being creative in the arts, and loves sharing her passion with the children she works with. She spends her free time exploring the beautiful Island, the beaches, and hiking trails with her daughter, and loves to paint. She is also apart of the Fox Club society, which is a scouts type club for adults- a great program that involves Outdoor adventures, challenging oneself, and learning new skills. She feels proud and lucky to be apart of this amazing Wild child program and all the adventures that are to come.      

Grace Thompson, Wild Child Forest Educator

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“I believe many more people need to focus more on their connection with nature, and less on their connection on their cell phones.”

Grace comes from the backwoods of beautiful Emyvale. She is in Grade 11 at Bluefield High school in Hampshire. Focusing on her sciences she plans to pursue a career in Agriculture. Her plans are to study at Nova Scotia agriculture College once graduated. Growing up in Emyvale, Grace has always had a love for adventuring, and exploring Nature and appreciating the beauty of our planet.  In her spare time she loves to ride and spend time with  her horse, play with her two puppies and enjoy the outdoors. Grace is very passionate about encouraging children to enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of the beautiful planet we have.

Cassidy McKellop, Wild Child Forest Educator

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“Life was meant for good friends and great adventures.” -Tiny Buddha

Cassidy is from Charlottetown PEI, Cassidy is has finished her first year at Holland College as a child and youth worker. She is indigenous and her family is from Lennox Island.
 
She had worked closely with youth for a few years in summer camps, one to one programs at Holland College, and has volunteered at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program in the past.
 
Cassidy loves new adventures and learning new things like sailing on a tall ship Misit No’Kmaq (All my relations) with 3 Things Consulting from Halifax to France, working with the Canada We Want conference, and the international internship for indigenous youth in Kenya! While in Kenya, she learned about Kenyan culture and shared her own, mapped trails for future tourism, and taught water conservation at the local schools.

 

Wild Child Nova Scotia Staff

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Julia Miller-Black, Wild Child Program Coordinator

“Like music and art, love of nature is a common language.”  – Jimmy Carter

Julia has worked with children for over five years in many different settings, but particularly loves being able to work and teach in the great outdoors. For Julia, there is nothing more gratifying than watching children develop a deeper understanding and love for the environment around them. She wants to make such experiences as inclusive and accessible as possible. 

A life-long nature lover, Julia enjoys hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, and star gazing. She is in the process of learning how to live a low waste life and dreams of a future in an eco-friendly tiny house.

Julia received her HBA from the University of Toronto in Environmental Studies and History. A new Nova Scotian, she and her partner recently moved to the Maritimes from Ontario. Outside of work Julia is an avid cook and foodie, a coffee lover, a plant mom, and a book worm.   

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Jacqui Reeves, Wild Child Educator

“Outdoor play time has been a vital component of my work with children, supporting their natural curiosity, regardless of their physical and/or mental limitations.”

Jacqui received her Early Childhood Education degree in England and continued to study and work in the field for more than 40 years!  Her work has included programs for children with a variety of developmental disabilities in Canada, Portugal and Belize. She also volunteered in Thailand for 8 years, providing teacher training in Early Intervention and Inclusive Education for children with special needs, spending 4 of those years working in refugee camps on the Thai/Burma border.

During the past 2 years she has been studying permaculture with a view to incorporating some of the principles into her urban life! Many of these include a deep respect of the natural world and an interest in sharing this with the children who will inherit it! 

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Kayla de Groot, Wild Child Educator

“The children and nature movement is fueled by this fundamental idea: the child in nature is an endangered species, and the health of children and the health of the Earth are inseparable.” – Richard Louv

Kayla has been working with children for nearly 10 years, and she is a passionate defender of play! Originally trained as an elementary school teacher, Kayla quickly discovered that a traditional classroom was not where she belonged. Believing whole-heartedly in the vital importance of childhood and that children are naturally curious, Kayla became an Early Childhood Educator where she embraced the benefits of an emergent, play-based curriculum. Since then, she has been embracing any and all opportunities to learn about children and to learn alongside children.

Believing in the restorative power of nature, Kayla relishes any opportunity to be immersed in a natural environment. She loves camping, hiking, and exploring new places. You are likely to find her taking hundreds of (amateur) photographs of the natural world along the way, or kicking it with a good book in her hammock. Kayla also enjoys growing her own food and testing out new vegetarian recipes. A strong advocate for combating the global crisis of climate change, Kayla is also passionate about living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Kayla is excited to merge her personal and professional passions, and to meet all of you at the Wild Child Forest School!

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Emily, Wild Child Administrator and Co-chair of Sierra Club, Atlantic Canada Chapter

Originally from Massachusetts, Emily came to Nova Scotia to attend Dalhousie University where she earned her BA. Following this she went on to earn her graduate degree in Ecology Education at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Afterwards, she worked at an Audubon nature sanctuary, developing and leading nature based camp programming, as well as at an Outdoor Education Centre in Rhode Island, where she taught leadership, natural history, and survival skills, and coordinated a nature camp for kids.

From there she married a Canadian and moved back to Nova Scotia where she assisted in delivering after school programs for the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation. She also helped Heidi, Sally and Jacqui in the first year of the Wild Child Forest School before moving to Ottawa. After a brief stint in Ottawa and Australia, she’s happy to be back in Nova Scotia with her husband and young son and involved with the Wild Child Forest School again.