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 email@example.com
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.
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.
Senior Nature Interpreter
Nature name: Red Panda
Pronouns: They/them/theirs/all pronouns
Mia started at the Humber Arboretum as a workshop attendee while completing their Honours Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology at the University of Guelph-Humber. They became involved in the Learning by Leading program, and continued with the Arb as a Camp Counsellor at the Humber Arboretum's Summer Nature Camp.
During their time as a student, Mia travelled to Mushkegowuk Territory in Northern Ontario for a field course in Indigenous mental health. Post-graduation, they worked as a research assistant at Humber College on a health promotion project for Indigenous youth. Through their previous experience as a personal support worker, Mia became passionate about accessibility, and they strive to make nature accessible for all. (They also hold a diploma in Social Service Work from Humber College.)
Mia enjoys long distance running and has raised money for various charities through their runs. They also have a passion for writing, dice collecting, experimental poetry, and historical baking. Currently, Mia is learning about the fascinating world of fungi and hopes to cultivate fungus in the future.
Senior Nature Interpreter
Nature name: Hummingbird
Angel is an Early Childhood Educator who specializes in outdoor pedagogics. Along with his Early Childhood Education and Teaching diploma from Humber College, Angel has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering and Sustainability. He got involved with the Arboretum when he was still a student at Humber College, first joining the Learning by LeadingTM program as a Humber Arboretum Ambassador-in-Training, moving up to Ambassador, and then being hired as a Co-Coordinator of the program, mentoring other students who were just getting started on their own Learning by LeadingTM journey. Finally he joined the Arb's educational team, where he continues to work with college students along with the general community and children of all ages.
Angel recently travelled to Denmark to study nature and outdoor education to learn about the Scandinavian outdoor school model. He often includes music in his teaching practices as he believes that combining music with nature feels like magic.
Angel has a special connection to nature as it is the place he feels most comfortable, and he likes that nature always has something new to teach him. He is passionate about bird identification and, originally from Mexico, he is currently working to learn the names of the birds of Toronto.
Angel's goal is to connect more people to nature.
Nature name: Bay Cat
Mitch has always been a lover of nature, looking at the environment as a mystery to explore. His fascination with the connections between different species and natural features drew him towards conservation. While studying wildlife conservation at the University of Guelph he was introduced to the field of animal behaviour and became captivated by the concept of the umwelt, the way in which organisms perceive and experience the world around them. This idea has shaped how Mitch approaches nature, people, and research. His childhood obsession with cats grew into a love for the little-known small wild cat species of the world and he tries to spread awareness of all these animals everywhere he goes. This love has also led him to research the mysterious Bay Cat to try to understand what animals it may eat by looking at the eye structure of potential prey species.
When he's not learning as much as possible about cats and ecosystem connections, Mitch loves to rock climb and hike. He has also recently found a passion for wood carving thanks to the Arboretum team. He is also working to better understand the cool world of plants.
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 work study 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: 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: 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!
Assistant Greenhouse Technician
Nature name: Buck
Lucas began his employment at Humber Arboretum when he was a student at Humber College, working various contracts that saw him assisting in horticulture, stewardship, and landscape construction projects. After graduation Lucas worked as a Landscape Technician for University of Toronto, but he promptly returned to the Arb as soon as a position became available. Lucas has a Landscape Technician Co-op Diploma and a Fitness and Health Promotion Diploma from Humber College, along with a Bachelor's of Applied Science in Kinesiology from University of Guelph.
When not at work Lucas enjoys going to his family's cottage and staying active through hiking, swimming, wakeboarding, snowboarding, and going to the gym. He has also collected coins since he was 7 years old.
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 animals, environmental education, and stories for 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 recently began a volunteering at the Toronto Wildlife Centre and is a proud member of Nature First: The Alliance for Responsible Nature Photography.
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.