Candidate 1: Alex Beatty
With an undeniable passion for wildlife, Alex Beatty served the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society (ACTWS) as Secretary-Treasurer before stepping into the role of President-Elect this past year. Alex holds a Bachelor of Science degree, with a specialization in Animal Biology from the University of Alberta. She is currently preparing her Master’s thesis defence, focused on polar bear ecology in western Hudson Bay. Alex has been fortunate to conduct field research throughout Canada and in Europe including locations such as Churchill, Manitoba; Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan; and Svalbard, Norway. Alex has shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for wildlife as an educator, interpreter and volunteer with Alberta Parks, the John Janzen Nature Centre, and the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
In addition to her work on the board of the ACTWS, Alex has been involved with The Wildlife Society (TWS) in other capacities. She served on TWS Annual Conference Networks and Engagement Committee, acted as chair of the Student Development Working Group International Committee and participated as an executive member for the University of Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society for several years. Alex has inspired wildlife biology students working with TWS and hopes to continue engaging science students in the future.
Candidate 1: Nicole (Nikki) Heim
Nicole Heim is a Wildlife Ecologist with a special interest in understanding population dynamics of medium to large sized carnivores throughout western Canada and north-western United States. Nicole spent several years assisting and leading on various field-based research projects including those targeting badger, wolverine, cougar, and grizzly bear – as well as African lion and hyena during a volunteer opportunity in Botswana. Her experience working with large ranging species increased her understanding in the principles of road ecology and the importance of landscape connectivity. These experiences led her to assist in the research and monitoring of Banff National Park’s iconic wildlife crossing structures. In 2015, Nicole completed her M.Sc. in Environmental Studies examining the cumulative impacts of natural and anthropogenic landscape factors driving the spatial distribution of wolverine and the carnivore community found in the central Rocky Mountain region of Alberta. With her strong background in carnivore ecology, she went on to work as a Wildlife Conflict Specialist in Banff National Park and most recently completed a 3-year term as a Park Ecologist with Alberta Parks in the Kananaskis Country Region. Nicole is dedicated to conservation and management of all our wild species – from bats to bears – and aims to find creative solutions that support human-wildlife co-existence and sustainable land-use. Nicole resides in Canmore, Alberta and spends her recreational time hiking, skiing, climbing, and improving on her skills in nature photography. Nicole has participated with the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society as a member, annual conference attendee, and speaker. During her time as a graduate student, the ACTWS stood by their mission statement by offering Nicole a supportive and engaging community of fellow students and professionals. Nicole would be honoured to assist the ACTWS in continuing to offer a space where students and professionals alike can work together to achieve science-based conservation and management goals now and into the future.
DIRECTOR (2 Positions)
Candidate 1: Fauve Blanchard
A born and raised Albertan, Fauve Blanchard’s love and interest in wildlife stemmed from a very young age. Her experience started with counting deer from the car window as a child to weekly collecting coyote scat at a dog park in university for an urban coyote study, where she got confused looks from dog walkers as she picked up “dog” poop in a dog park, without a dog, and with rubber gloves and Ziploc bags. Fauve dispersed remote cameras throughout the Fort McMurray river valleys on a wildlife connectivity study, volunteered with rescued elephants and monkeys at a Thailand wildlife rehabilitation center, set up cameras at wolf dens to count litter sizes and live trapped squirrels at the famous Yukon squirrel camp. More recent endeavours have included: improving wildlife modelling tools used in Alberta’s forest management planning, surveying red-sided garter snakes, western grebes and sharp-tailed grouse and acting as co-chair on the Alberta BearSmart Committee. She has gained experience working in the industry sector as an Ecologist for Devon Energy and is currently employed as an Area Wildlife Biologist with the Alberta government out of Whitecourt. Outside of work, she loves to canoe, fish and hunt and especially enjoys travelling to where she can truly witness Earth’s awe-inspiring wildlife diversity. She’s currently the Treasurer of her local AUPE chapter and the Secretary of the Whitecourt Search and Rescue Society, and has successfully organized fundraisers and workshops in the past. Since joining ACTWS in 2014, Fauve has been thrilled to be a part of this chapter and through continued involvement in the ACTWS, she hopes to continue to support the sustainability of wildlife populations and their habitat through the application of up-to-date science and management tools.
Candidate 2: Melanie Dickie
Melanie Dickie is the research coordinator at the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute’s Caribou Monitoring Unit. Melanie focusses on informing woodland caribou recovery in western Canada using applied research and actively collaborating with academics, industry, First Nations and government. Melanie is also starting a PhD at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, where she will tackle questions such as the relative importance of anthropogenic land-use and climate on the ecological community within the boreal forest food web. Melanie received her M.Sc. from the University of Alberta, where she studied the impact of anthropogenic linear features, such as roads and seismic lines, on wolf movement behaviour. Through this research, Melanie coordinated stakeholders with various interests. She also has experience working with shorebird and seabird monitoring and census programs through the Canadian Wildlife Society and the National Wildlife Research Centre. Melanie is interested in becoming a director of ACTWS to further support the integration across the wildlife community in Alberta, across stakeholders groups and generations.
Candidate 3: Chuck Priestley
Chuck would welcome the opportunity to continue his role as Director of the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Chuck is a Professional Biologist with 21 years of academic and professional work experience with a variety of industry clients, government agencies, non-government organizations and environmental consulting companies. His interest in ecosystem management lead to professional opportunities throughout western Canada, including long-term monitoring programs for songbirds, owls, amphibians and mammals; wildlife habitat-use on military bases; environmental impact assessment of road, wind farm, coal mine and oil sand development projects; woodland caribou management in Alberta’s Foothills; habitat suitability index modeling for the Barred Owl; testing the Global Monitoring Protocol for Important Bird Areas; North American movement of Burrowing Owls; bat population surveys; and testing the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program protocol. For the past 15 years, Chuck has co-owned and operated STRIX Ecological Consulting an Alberta-based environmental consulting company specialized in terrestrial wildlife monitoring and research programs. Chuck served on the Beaverhill Bird Observatory’s Board as Vice-chair for two years and Chair for 11 years and on Nature Canada’s Board as a Director for three years. Chuck currently serves on the Boards of Alberta Conservation Association and Alberta Society of Professional Biologists. Chuck studied bird movements using radio telemetry, stable isotopes and DNA analyses for his M.Sc., Wildlife Ecology and Management, degree which he attained at the University of Alberta. His B.Sc. was obtained from the same institution in Environmental and Conservation Sciences. In addition to his work interests, Chuck enjoys getting out with family and friends to pursue activities such as hunting, camping and long-distance trail running.
Candidate 4: Jim Schieck
I retired two years ago after 25 years as a Research Scientist at the Alberta Research Council. Prior to that, I obtained my MSc from the University of Western Ontario evaluating dispersal of voles. Then I switched gears to do a PhD at the University of Alberta studying reproduction and survival of ptarmigan. Still yearning for more education, I completed a post Doc at Simon Fraser University evaluating how mammals, birds and amphibians were affected by tree patches that were retained in cut blocks. After getting married I needed a dependable pay cheque, and started a real job at the Alberta Research Council. There I focused on evaluating how forest birds were affected by harvest and natural disturbances. Fifteen years ago I was fortunate enough to help develop and then implement the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. As Science Director, this program has been my main research focus since that time, and I’m proud of the geographic breadth and species depth that we have been able to achieve. Even more satisfying, were the many discussions I had with students and ecological professionals throughout Alberta kicking around ideas about how to better manage native and human disturbed ecosystems. During the last few years I have developed a strong interest in using cameras and ARUs to study wildlife, and remain involved with that at the ABMI, while fitting retirement activities (pickleball, curling and travel) into my schedule. At some stage I will “bow out of” environmental management, but would enjoy supporting the ACTWS as a director before hanging up my hat.
Candidate 5: Robb Stavne
Robb Stavne obtained his B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biology at Augustana University College in 2001, and completed his M.Sc. at the University of Alberta in 2005 examining effects of cattle grazing on wetland bird communities in the Aspen Parkland. Robb has accumulated more than 18 years of experience as a wildlife biologist, serving with Ducks Unlimited, Sustainable Resources Development (now AEP), Alberta Conservation Association, and Mercer International; spanning his practice across industry, government and non profit organizations. Robb works and volunteers with his community in Peace River to engage them in citizen science initiatives, and to promote awareness of wildlife and associated issues. As a cattle producer, Robb also understands the importance of engaging landowners that work on the landscape, to understand habitat needs and to leave a little something for their wild neighbors. To that end, he has also worked with Peace Country Beef and Forage Association, the Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, ALUS Canada, and Ducks Unlimited to restore 30 acres of wetland habitat and associated uplands on his own property, and to protect them from grazing. Robb currently lives in Peace River where he operates his newly founded consulting venture; Sora Ecological Consulting.
Candidate 6: Ben Steele
I’ve been working in consulting for about 9 years now and over this time I have focused primarily in vegetation, wetland and wildlife ecology. I have had the opportunity to deliver environmental support across a broad range of projects including road and utility infrastructure, mining, urban developments and oil and gas. On these projects I’ve delivered both the field and office-based components of environmental assessments. This includes the development of complex environmental impact assessments, assessment and monitoring of species at risk, habitat rehabilitation/restoration and management plans, as well as providing regulatory and approvals guidance to clients and project developers. More recently I have developed a niche and a particular passion for collaborating with the broader development team and stakeholders including design engineers, discipline specialists, clients and key stakeholders such as the local indigenous representatives and local experts to help facilitate the best possible outcomes for environmental and cultural values.
As I’ve matured as a professional, I’ve learned that the earlier in a projects life that environmental and cultural influences can be leveraged, the better the chances of achieving a more meaningful outcome regarding conservation efforts. While this is critical work, increasingly I find myself yearning to work outside the arena of developments and focus my efforts in the conservation of our natural and cultural resources. Along these lines, the opportunity to support science-based management and conservation efforts in advance of developments, or in support of advocacy efforts could allow for more meaningful contributions to conservation efforts than that which I’m able to deliver in my role in consulting. My professional experiences have been fulfilling, but what brought me to this field of work was and is my passion for conservation and I believe that working closely with a reputable NGO, is a great place for me to contribute more to conservation efforts in Alberta. As a Director on the board, I would commit to being a positive contributor to the goals of the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society and leverage my experience and network to help achieve its mission. Thank you for taking the time to consider my nomination.
Candidate 1: Grace Enns
Candidate 2: Jennifer (Jenny) FocaMy name is Jenny Foca and I’m an MSc student at the University of Alberta. I’m passionate about wildlife ecology, conservation, and dogs! I’m interested in applied research that supports active wildlife management, and my current research involves using trail cameras to estimate densities and model space use for five ungulate species in Elk Island National Park and Cooking Lake-Blackfoot PRA.
Candidate 3: Emily Giesbrecht
My name is Emily Giesbrecht and I am currently a first year student in the Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation diploma program at Lakeland College. I am from Clearwater, BC, but chose to attend college in Alberta for the reputation of the program as well as my interest in the course content. I have always had a passion for nature and the outdoors, so I decided to pursue a career that would allow me to be around both. In the summer of 2019 I worked as a Learn to Fish Instructor for the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, teaching both children and adults how to fish and leading tours of the Clearwater Trout Hatchery. This summer I am looking to further my involvement with the Freshwater Fisheries Society by seeking a job as a Fish Culture Technician. I am hoping to get lots of hands on experience through this job. I have always been passionate about environmental issues, and in my grade 12 year of high school I helped to implement a school-wide composting program to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. In the future I would like to finish my diploma, then get a degree in wildlife biology and pursue a career in the field of wildlife conservation. I am a member of Lakeland College’s Outdoor Recreation Club and in my free time I love to hike, camp, and fly fish. I am interested in being student director for the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society because I want to expand my knowledge of wildlife, as well as to learn more about the work that goes into the management and conservation of wildlife and their habitat. I hope to be able to take this knowledge back to Lakeland College and share it with my classmates.