It takes a diverse combination of skills to support the many facets of the Humber Arboretum. Meet the team that keeps the grounds beautiful, the land healthy, the learning exciting, the community engaged, and everything behind the scenes running smoothly.
Having a “Nature Name” is a long-standing tradition at our day camps, for kids and adults alike. Most of our staff chose their own, although a few didn’t get quite as much of a say in the matter!
To contact one of our staff members, email the Humber Arboretum at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nature name: Mountain Lion
Alexandra Link is Director of Humber Arboretum & Centre for Urban Ecology in Toronto, Ontario. Under Alix’s leadership, the Humber Arboretum was awarded Community Garden of the Year from the City of Toronto in 2013 and a Community Service award from Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter in 2015.
She sits on Humber College’s Centre of Innovation in Health and Wellness Steering Committee, Landscape Technician Program Advisory Committee, Humber Galleries Advisory Committee, and Sustainability Coordinating Committee. Alix is co-founder of Humber College’s Nature Education Working Group, created to enhance student skills and knowledge by enabling learning connected to the natural environment. She also is the current Chair of the American Public Gardens Association’s College and University community.
Alix’s background includes founding and operating an urban agriculture co-operative, a consultancy, and a sustainable landscape business. She also worked as a policy advisor with the provincial government focusing on local food and land use where she was awarded the ministry’s Health and Wellness Leadership award. Alix is a graduate of the Royal Roads Masters of Arts in Environment and Management program where she focused her research on best practices in local food system implementation in British Columbia, Canada. She also holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, Canada.
Coordinator of Education, Camps, and Community Outreach
Nature name: Beaver
Jimmy has been rolling logs and feeding chickadees at the Humber Arboretum since 2005, when he started out as a nature interpreter before becoming Camp Director. A familiar face to over a decade of nature camp alumni, Jimmy now coordinates all of the Centre for Urban Ecology’s camps, school programs, adult education, and community outreach activities. In 2011 Jimmy received Humber College’s staff Community Service Award and in 2015 his team received a Community Service Award from Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter.
Before the Arb, Jimmy worked as a Stewardship Events Leader for Evergreen and has also worked with both the Hamilton and North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authorities on various watershed based projects. He has a Technologist Diploma in Ecosystem Management from Sir Sandford Fleming School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences.
A proud father of two boys, Jimmy’s passion lies in connecting people with the natural environment in the hopes that they can find as much enjoyment playing and learning outdoors as he did growing up.
Horticultural Technologist & Arborist
Nature name: Oak
Once the Captain of Canada’s Men’s Softball team, Rob now uses his leadership skills to keep things running smoothly for the Arb’s horticulture and landscaping team.
Rob first joined the Humber Arboretum in 1997 as a workstudy student while he was completing Humber College’s Urban Arboriculture Certificate. He went on to become an instructor and later the Program Coordinator for Humber College’s Horticulture Apprenticeship and Landscape Technician programs. At the Humber Arboretum he has played an instrumental role in facilitating and coordinating experiential learning course components as well as applied research and capstone projects from over seven different Humber programs.
An ISA Certified Arborist, Rob has a Horticulture Diploma from the University of Guelph. He also has a charming story of workplace romance – he met his bride-to-be through his Arboretum co-worker Talete’s bride-to-be while the women were coworkers at a Humber College daycare centre. Rob is now a proud father of two.
Nature name: Will-o'-the-wisp
For two years Valerie was both a behind-the-scenes organizer and front line contact as the Scheduling and Customer Service Assistant at the Centre for Urban Ecology, where she helped school groups, camp families, learners, and visitors alike take advantage of all the Arboretum has to offer. In early 2018 she moved into her full-time role as Operations Assistant, where she now helps ensure that all the many facets of the Humber Arboretum run smoothly. She holds a B.A. (Honours) in Classics & English from McMaster University and a diploma in Office Administration, Executive Assistant, from Mohawk College.
Valerie enjoys learning new things, being creative, and exploring new styles of art and writing. She loves artistic and outdoor activities like sitting around a campfire, watching the lights play off of the Athenian Acropolis at night, and standing by a river while a breeze whips around her.
Customer Service Representative
Nature name: Lily
Lida holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Humber College. Being the first line of contact, Lida ensures a positive experience for students, visitors, and other guests of the Humber Arboretum. Lida has a passion for helping others, she uses some of her time to volunteer for non for profit organizations and Toronto General Hospital.
Lida has an appreciation for nature and environmental sustainability and it was due to this interest that she decided to join Humber Arboretum. In her free time she loves learning new things, reading and taking nature walks.
Nature name: Badger
Talete has been at the Arboretum since the late 90s, maintaining the grounds and making his mark by designing and building custom projects that enhance the Arboretum experience for all visitors. From eye-catching benches to the Tree of Hope welcome mosaic, Talete’s work can be seen across the North campus site. He also assists with Humber College’s Landscape programs, helping to guide student projects constructed on the Arboretum grounds.
But it isn’t all outdoor work for Talete. He also has a passion for interior design and loves to play competitive billiards – a hobby which recently earned him a trip to a Las Vegas tournament.
Nature name: Chickadee
When Andrea began studying horticulture, her father told her to take time every day to sketch a new plant as a way of noticing the small details. Raised to have a deep love and appreciation for nature, it was a natural fit for Andrea to pursue a career in horticulture and conservation. Andrea has worked with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Credit Valley Conservation Authority in habitat restoration, naturalization and reforestation. She also has experience as a Maintenance Foreman for an ecological landscaping company.
Andrea holds an Honours Diploma in Environmental Landscape Management from Seneca College as well as a Diploma in Horticulture through the University of Guelph. She also holds a first-degree black belt in karate and has been studying for 15 years with her father, who holds a fifth-degree black belt.
Nature name: Sunshine
After earning a Masters of Horticulture in Bucharest, Romania, Valeria came to Canada in 1995 and began working in the Humber greenhouses in 2003. She has been an integral part of many of the Arboretum’s exciting research and community projects, working easily with everyone from novice students to experienced conservationists. In 2015 she received a Support Staff Distinguished Service Award from Humber College.
But just because Valeria’s digging in the dirt, that doesn’t always mean she’s got something to plant. Instead this passionate amateur geologist might be looking for another rock specimen to add to her already impressive collection.
Environmental Stewardship Coordinator
Nature name: Mother Nature
Lynn’s first memory of her connection to nature was at the age of 4 arriving in the kitchen of her home following an outdoor adventure to announce to her mother, “Guess what, Mom, I have a whole pocket full of ants!” She was promptly told to go back outside!
Lynn taught elementary school, specializing in Science and Mathematics, for several years before coming to Humber College. While she was at Humberwood Junior Middle Academy, one of her colleagues began to call her “Mother Nature”. That has become her nature name at the Arboretum. She worked at the Centre for Urban Ecology for 6 years as the Senior Nature Interpreter before joining the Humber Faculty in the School of Applied Technology, teaching in Horticulture. Lynn is currently working for the summer as the Environmental Stewardship Coordinator at the Humber Arboretum developing a pilot in Native Plant Restoration and Invasive Plant Control for the Learning by Leading Program.
Lynn has also been focusing her energies over the past decade developing non-chemical control strategies for the invasive plant, Phragmites australis or European Common Reed. She has been conducting research for the past 4 years, testing her “Spading Technique” and collecting data on the effectiveness of the technique in reducing the stalk density and improving native biodiversity. Lynn received the Bob Whittam Environmental Award in 2016 by the Severn Sound Environmental Association for her dedication to controlling Phragmites in Tiny Township.
Every fall, Lynn and her husband go on a week-long canoe trip in Algonquin Park to re-connect with Ahki (Mother Earth). She loves the outdoors, no matter what the weather!
Nature name: Minnow
A graduate of the Fine Arts Cultural Studies program at York University, Marilyn is a writer and photographer with a special interest in environmental education and young audiences. Along with her work for the Arboretum, she also writes stage plays, stories, comics, and poems. Some recent works include writing the story for "The Goosefighter" in Volume 5 of the Toronto Comics Anthology Osgoode as Gold and having two poems in the Emma Press anthology for children, Dragons of the Prime: Poems about Dinosaurs.
Marilyn likes to think of herself as a slightly-above-novice birder and is often found wandering Toronto parks with binoculars, camera, and a well-worn copy of a ROM field guide in hand. She is a proud member of Nature First: The Alliance for Responsible Nature Photography. Find her on Twitter @Shumpgullion or iNaturalist @MarilynC.
Assistant Education and Camp Coordinator
Nature name: Sticky
Michael has spent over a decade in experiential education, working at YMCA Cedar Glen, Moorelands Kids, and P.I.N.E. Project before coming to the Humber Arboretum. He has training in High and low ropes and team building, and he especially loves to teach survival skills. An avid woodcarver and camper, Michael became a youth member of Scouts Canada at the age of 6 and has volunteered with the organization for nearly twenty years. Born and raised in the Toronto area, he has a B.A. in History from the University of Toronto. Currently Sticky is working to expand his knowledge of tree growth and health.
Nature name: Groundhog
Max grew up in the suburbs of Toronto but spent lots of time up at the family cottage catching snakes and frogs and developing what has become a prowess in the stern position of a canoe. After working in retail and customer service for several years and living around the city, Max began to recognize a severe nature deficit in his life and began spending more time in parks and ravines around in his home. Fast forward a few years and Max has a diploma in Outdoor Adventure and Naturalist studies from Algonquin College, and has worked as a guide, educator and as an ambassador to Canada’s natural spaces for hundreds of tourists and students from across the country and around the world. Max arrived at the Arb in December of 2019 and loves being a part of such a fun, talented, dynamic team!