“I grew up in the country, surrounded by orchards, forests and farms. We drank well water and ate wild asparagus. Bullfrogs, crickets and coyotes would sing me to sleep. We didn’t watch TV, we watched the birds in the sky, the rabbits in the yard, the lightning storms in the distance. I would wait all spring for the apple blossoms to open, and spend all day in the orchard when they did. This pocket of the outdoor world is an enormous part of who I am and continues to shape my values, decisions and hobbies.”
Valery is a non-profit professional with expertise in community engagement, governance and human resources. She currently manages the Branch Relations department at the Canadian Mental health Association, BC Division, and has previously worked with the Canadian Cancer Society and the David Suzuki Foundation. Valery holds a B.Sc. in biology and mathematics and has a background in research that includes mathematical modeling at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and conservation work in Taiwan. Valery traveled Canada extensively by motorcycle before settling in Vancouver to build a life near the sea and the mountains. This will be Valery’s fourth year on the NatureKids BC board.
Steeped in an organic farming tradition and raised on the fringe of wilderness, Cynthia’s passionate relationship with the environment, animals, the outdoors and all things “wild” has been life-long. Named a “child of nature” she developed an insatiable curiosity and concern for the environment and its inhabitants as well as a determination to make a difference. Her background inspired her to complete a B.Ed. at the University of Alberta with a minor in Outdoor and Environmental Education. For over 23 years she has been educating and inspiring children of all ages to: consciously connect with nature; to become environmentally aware; to take responsibility for their choices and decisions; and to take action to make this a better, safer, more beautiful world for us all.
Since moving to Chilliwack from Alberta eight years ago, Cynthia has, until recently, filled the coveted position of Environmental Educator for the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve as well as providing volunteer Club leadership for the Eastern Fraser Valley NatureKids. Under her keen facilitation and mentorship the children have fallen in love with nature, completing dozens of Citizen Science and Stewardship projects in the Fraser Valley and substantially elevating environmental and species awareness. Cynthia is an avid volunteer, member, and Director with many organizations who has done such imaginative and important work as co-organizing and running Edmonton’s prestigious “Earth Day” event for nearly two decades garnering an Emerald Award for, “Best Environmental Initiatives and Stewardship” from a not-for-profit group. She currently teaches and resides in Chilliwack with her husband David, their dog Blue, and her prized organic garden. Cynthia joined the NatureKids Board in 2014.
Daphne Solecki is a past president, Nature Vancouver; past president, BC Nature; co-founder and past president of NatureKids BC (previously the Young Naturalists’ Club of BC). She is the recipient of the Government of BC Arbor Vitae Environmental Award, the BC Achievement Award, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. Currently – Honorary President of NatureKids BC, director, and editor of NatureWILD. “I ‘discovered’ Nature only in my 50’s. I have been running full tilt ever since to catch up on what I have missed and to help others to discover their passion for loving, understanding, and conserving nature”
Vanessa is passionately involved with anything green, watery or mountainous! The love affair all started about 11 years ago with tracking snakes in Ontario Provincial Parks has continued since with environmental education and interpretation out west in various positions, from a Richmond classroom teacher, a Vancouver Aquarium interpreter to my current position as a Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Interpretation Leader. She has also previously dedicated her time volunteering for the David Suzuki Foundation, and is currently on the executive committees of Interpretation Canada and EEPSA (Environmental Educators Provincial Specialist Association). She has been dedicated to connecting people to nature’s awe and wonder, and hope to inspire care of place and wild things. Vanessa recently completed a Masters of Ecological Education. Vanessa joined the board in 2011.
Eve joined NatureKids BC in spring of 2017 and was appointed Treasurer with the Board of Directors in April 2017. With 17 years of experience in accounting she has extensive experience with financial analysis, cash flow management and guidance. Eve also has over five years of board experience with her local CGA Chapter. In her we have found someone with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, coupled with a work ethic founded on dedication and diligence.
Jessie joined NatureKids BC as a volunteer this year, and was appointed Assistant Treasurer with the Board of Directors in April 2017. As a new mother, the mission of NatureKids BC resonates with Jessie and she is inspired to convey her respect and appreciation for nature with the next generation. Jessie is nearing completion of a Bachelor of Business Administration and has professional experience working with a variety of accounting systems as well as cross-departmental projects to improve KPIs. Jessie is excited to find innovative ways to bring NatureKids to more families in BC.
Kaley grew up in the prairies of Manitoba and would spend summers as a youth exploring Lake of the Woods, in Ontario. Encouraged by her older brothers, Kaley was often found outside exploring or playing sports — in great effort to keep up with them! She’s passionate about the outdoors and encouraging others to embrace time spent outside. In her youth, she was part of a six week canoe trip in remote Northern Saskatchewan. This trip solidified the importance of experiencing the outdoors and preserving nature.
Kaley holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s university and is currently completing her MBA program through Queen’s. She’s been in Vancouver for seven years. In her spare time, you can often find her on the trails in North Vancouver, either mountain biking or running. She’s excited to be part of the NatureKids BC board of directors for 2017, and looks forward to getting involved!
The natural world stumbled into Frances’ life at a very young age when her parents chose to raise their family on a hobby farm east of Williams Lake BC. Her early home was shared with various farm animals and a large toad that lived under the basement stairs. The landscape included forested swamp that provided her and her siblings with hundreds of adventures and hours of “connecting with nature”. This early immersion was a gift that continues to influence her worldview and life experiences. She joined the NatureKids hoping to share this gift with children.
Frances has deep experience in connecting people with nature through environmental education and hands-on outdoor experiences. She was a park interpreter for 12 years working for a variety of organizations including Scout Island Nature Centre, Metro Vancouver Parks, The Richmond Nature Park, Mount Seymour Outdoor Education Department and Waterton Lakes National Park. She volunteered for 5 months as a Guide at a lodge in the Peruvian Jungle on the Tambopata River and more locally, was instrumental in starting a citizen science project at Belcarra Regional Park which monitors the size and gender ratio of Red Rock and Dungeness crabs.
Leslie Bol has 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 used to bike alone down to the local park along the Thames River in London, Ontario and walk out along downed logs to discover what was living in the floodplain wetlands. These early days of freedom and exploration eventually led to a career as a wildlife biologist. She did her MSc research in the ponds and lake of Mont St. Hilaire in Quebec and still gets to do field work from time to time including surveys for frogs. She has really enjoyed being a co-leader of the Vancouver NatureKids club since September 2015 and is looking forward to further contributing to the organization as a board member.
Mostly a writer and sometimes a communications consultant, Simon Briault has been a Canadian since 2015, a Brit since birth and a nature-lover all his life. He was raised on the documentaries of David Attenborough, but much preferred the real deal of being outside and exploring the natural world – woods, lakes, streams, beaches, and mud. Lots of mud.
Simon spent his formative years in Southeast England, where he hiked the white cliffs of Dover, walked the family dog in the forests and fields and spent quite a lot of time climbing trees. After graduating with a degree in English Literature from the University of Durham, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and, later, communications. There he met a Canadian and, after wandering around the world for a while, they eventually moved to BC and started a family. They live in Lynn Valley and spend as much time as possible outdoors, rain or shine. Simon joined the board of NatureKids BC in 2017. He still likes climbing trees.