In addition to the eleven students hired since 2016, the Gorge Waterway Action Society (GWAS) was able to hire six more students for the summer of 2021 thanks to funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Michelle Wood – Ecological Restoration Technician, 2021
Michelle has been involved with the Gorge Waterway Action Society since 2018 when she was hired as a Nature House Interpreter Summer Student. She continued to serve GWAS as volunteer Webmaster while completing her Bachelor degree in Statistics and Environmental Studies, then left the island for a season of remote field work in the Alaskan Arctic. After returning to the island and GWAS, Michelle assisted in leading the winter 2021 YCP Program as Education & Outreach Advisor. She is excited to return to field work for the 2021 summer and to help restore ecosystems in a park she loves!
Vanessa Brownlee – Ecological Restoration Technician, 2021
Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Sociology from the University of Victoria (UVic). She is currently completing a Diploma in Restoration of Natural Systems at UVic while working with GWAS. She started with GWAS in January of 2021 as a participant in their YCP program, and is continuing her work as a restoration technician this summer. Vanessa enjoys gardening and learning about native plants, so she is excited to be working on GWAS’s Pollinator Meadow this summer!
Liam Baron-Preston – Environmental Biologist, 2021
Liam holds a B.Sc. in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria where he focused on forest biology and restoration ecology. He is interested in community ecology, conservation biology and nutrient cycling and exchange between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Liam is excited to join the GWAS team and more closely examine urban-adjacent ecosystem dynamics this summer. He will be focused on expanding on existing biodiversity monitoring projects and developing field guides for future research.
Ernest Wu – Environmental Biologist, 2021
Ernest holds a Masters of Sciences from the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. He is interested in plant ecology and biogeography, such as the importance of plant biodiversity in maintaining ecosystem resilience. He is also interested in the conservation of rare moss species. In his spare time he likes to take pictures, hike, and beachcomb. He is assisting with many of the ongoing environmental monitoring projects and also developing new protocols for biodiversity inventories.
Erin Hogan – Nature Interpreter, 2021
Erin holds a Bachelor of Knowledge Integration from the University of Waterloo and an Adventure Tourism certificate from Westcoast Adventure College. During her time with the Gorge Waterway Action Society, she hopes to combine her interests in science communication, youth outdoor education, and collaborative design. This summer, Erin will be running environmental education programs in the nature house, assisting with grant writing, and joining the other summer students on their biology and restoration projects.
Kate Assenheimer – Nature Interpreter, 2021
Kate is currently in her final year at the University of Victoria, studying geography and environmental studies. Her key interests lie in ethnoecology and exploring the relationships present between people and nature. Kate hopes to bring her studies to the Nature House as a Nature Interpreter where she will be working on a variety of projects to support the Gorge Waterway Action Society. Kate has recently found some new interests in identifying birds, learning how to rollerblade, and canoeing. Whether it be through a cultural, scientific, or explorative lens; Kate is eager to continue learning and sharing with the public at the Nature House this summer!
Jameson Clarke – Environmental Biologist, 2020
Jameson holds a B.S. in biology from Bucknell University (PA, USA) and a M.S. in invertebrate zoology from Duke University (NC, USA). His research specializes on the evolutionary ecology of deep sea arthropods and the evolutionary physiology of insect metamorphosis and pattern development. Jameson joined the GWAS Board of Directors in 2019 and worked as an Environmental Biologist for GWAS in 2020 while working toward a Restoration of Natural System Diploma at UVic and his RP Bio designation.
Ashley Neilson – Ecological Restoration Technician, 2020
Ashley is a recent graduate from the University of Victoria, earning a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Anthropology. Growing up on northern Vancouver Island she was initially drawn to coastal ecology and environmental monitoring, but has since ventured more into terrestrial work. During her work term with the Gorge Waterway Action Society, she has been working on a variety of projects as a restoration technician, including maintaining and monitoring active restoration sites and initiating a new native pollinator restoration project.
Caitlin Bergman – Nature Interpreter, 2020
Caitlin is in her third year of a Biology degree with a concentration in Marine Biology and a minor in Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria. In her spare time, Caitlin loves being outdoors and exploring the amazing ecosystems around Vancouver Island. As the Nature Interpreter at the Gorge Waterway Action Society, Caitlin will be working on many different projects including writing grants, managing volunteers, and leading activities in the Nature House.
Vanessa Clark – Nature Interpreter/Restoration Technician, 2019
Vanessa is in her third year of the Environmental Technology program at Camosun College. Outside of school, she has worked as a Summer Camp Coordinator, Restoration Technician, and Naturalist. She especially enjoys species ID and is a self-proclaimed “bird nerd”. Vanessa grew up in Esquimalt and is thrilled to be working for GWAS. In addition to operating the Nature House, Vanessa will be working on a variety of summer projects including restoration work and Nature House upgrades.
Completed two extensive biophysical inventories within the forest and the salt marsh
Sampling and analysis of water/biofilm during the Gorge Creek sewage spill
Worked on collaborative projects with local ENGO's such as World Fisheries Trust, SeaChange, Oceans Network Canada, and the Habitat Acquisition Trust
Created newsletters and promotional handouts for GWAS and the Nature House
Created and managed the Gorge Waterway Nature House Facebook Page
Redesigned the GWAS Website
Ran Silent Auction Events inside the Nature House
Tracked and reported on Nature House visitor attendance throughout the summer
Assisted the World Fisheries Trust with Nature House children's programs and beach programs throughout Victoria
Monitoring and sectioned removal of native parasitic species Salt Marsh Dodder (Cuscuta Salina)
Removal of invasive species in Kinsmen Gorge Park including, English Ivy (Hedera Helix), Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)
Organized community volunteer events to remove invasive species
Reorganized, and re-designed displays in the Nature House
Daily operations of the Gorge Waterway Nature House, including volunteer management and recruitment