Who We Are & What We Do

About Us

Our Mission

To inspire and empower wildlife professionals* to engage in science-based management and conservation of wild animals and their habitats.

Our Members

Wildlife biology professionals, scientists, academics, students, communicators and citizen advocates throughout Alberta and western Canada.

Our Organization

We are a non-profit Chapter of the US-based The Wildlife Society. We have over 400 members and are governed by a volunteer board and coordinated by an executive director.

Our Activities

Create and foster a collaborative wildlife community of students, scientists, managers, and enthusiasts

Promote application of robust science in wildlife and habitat-related decision making

Enhance and empower our membership through diverse services and student supports

Develop, maintain, and model organizational efficiency

The key role of the ACTWS is to foster a professional culture among wildlife biologists that promotes science-based management and conservation of wildlife throughout Alberta.

Our Achievements

32 CONFERENCES

for wildlife professionals and students

30+ YEARS and >400 MEMBERS

advocating for science in wildlife management across Alberta

$175K+

of scholarships, travel grants, and student presentation awards given

20+ CAMPAIGNS

on wildlife and habitat issues from coal mining to species at risk management. Success in wetland policy, CWD testing, forestry planning, caribou recovery, and more

TWS LEADER

in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

2019

TWS Chapter of the Year

Executive

Sarah Elmeligi

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Sarah Hatt

President-Elect

Samantha Stamler

Secretary-Treasurer

Nicole Heim

Past-President

Glenn Mack

Director

Robb Stavne

Director

Remington Bracher

Student Director

Mark Boyce

Conservation Committee Chair

Kristie Derkson

Education & Information

Nikki Paksar

education & information

Jenny Foca

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair

Ashley Shaw

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair

Margo Pybus

Historian

Volunteer Committees

So much of our work is addressed and accomplished with the help of dedicated members who volunteer their time and expertise to meet our mission. Our active committees are:

  • Conservation Affairs
  • Education and Information
  • Membership
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

 

Learn more about them on our Volunteer Committees page.

ACTWS Speakers Bureau

Provide a database of qualified scientists and managers to speak at an array of events and to groups of all ages. Please see our Speakers Bureau below to find a speaker perfect for your event. If you’re an expert, please sign up for our Bureau in the Members’ Area

First NameLast NameCityDisciplineAreas of ExpertiseWebsiteEmail
Matt
Besko
Edmonton
wildlife, forestry
Wildlife Allocation and Use, Hunting, Management of Game species, forest wildlife ecology; public speaking, human cultural dimensions of wildlife management; Government Policy and Wildlife Management, historical ecology and use of natural foods, Biologist Humour, Cooking game and preparing/eating Wild Foods from around the world. Mostly eating. I’m an expert at eating.
Just Google: ‘Matt Besko Alberta’
Sarah
Elmeligi
Canmore
wildlife
parks and protected areas, large carnivore ecology, interdisciplinary research
www.saraheconsulting.com
Andrea
Morehouse
Pincher Creek
wildlife
human-wildlife conflict, large carnivore ecology
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Andrea_Morehouse
Mark
Boyce
Edmonton
wildlife, agriculture
Population ecology of large mammals. Predator-prey dynamics. Carbon sequestration and storage in grazed grasslands. Habitat selection. Harvest policy.
https://grad.biology.ualberta.ca/boyce/
Romane
Hazette
Calgary
wildlife
Ethology, Behavioural Ecology, Animal Behaviours, Mammals, Wolves, Camera Trapping, Human-Wildlife Conflict, Large Carnivore

Sarah Elmeligi

Executive Director

Sarah Elmeligi, PhD, has been passionate about conserving Alberta’s wildlife and wild landscapes since she was a child exploring Banff National Park with her parents. From her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Alberta to her graduate work, she has focused on large mammal behaviour, landscape ecology, and wildlife conservation. Her Masters research at the University of Northern British Columbia used an interdisciplinary approach to understand the impacts of tourism on grizzly bear behaviour and visitor tour satisfaction in the Khutzeymateen Conservancy of northwest BC.

Studying at Central Queensland University, her PhD applied a similar approach, integrating biological and social data to understand grizzly bear habitat selection around human use trails and visitor expectations of management in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks. Sarah believes that most wildlife management is really about managing people. Throughout her work, she has worked closely with communities, stakeholders, First Nations Governments, and park visitors. Her work with grizzly bears and large landscapes has influenced land management in Alberta and BC for more than a decade. She also has experience working with local environmental non-profit organizations (CPAWS Southern Alberta, Y2Y, Prairie Conservation Forum) to influence the creation of new protected areas, improve land management, and to effectively engage communities in conservation. Sarah has also worked for Alberta Parks as a Planner designing facility plans to improve the ecological integrity of Kananaskis Protected Areas while creating high-quality recreation opportunities.

Sarah examines landscapes holistically, aiming to create management recommendations that balance biological, social, and cultural needs. Her career as an ecologist has been punctuated with extended trips exploring ecosystems in Europe, Australia, Central America, and North America but her heart has always been in Alberta. She believes in the inherent value of Alberta’s wilderness and focuses her career towards ensuring human practices are sustainable and in balance with the needs of wildlife and ecosystems. In addition to being your Executive Director, she is completing her first book entitled What Bears Teach Us, and owns Sarah E Consulting out of Canmore.

John Paczkowski

President-Elect

John is a biologist who has concentrated his career on wildlife research and conservation, mainly with large carnivores.  Originally from Ontario, he obtained an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation and Bachelor of Natural Science from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Moving to Alberta in the early 1990’s John was part of the Central Rockies Wolf Project, Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project as well as numerous other terrestrial and aquatic wildlife research projects. He obtained his MSc. From the University of Northern British Columbia, focussing on remote sensing of grizzly bear habitat.  John and his family then moved to the Russian far east, contributing to conservation efforts for Kamchatka brown bear and later Amur tigers with the Wildlife Conservation Society. As an ecologist with Alberta Environment and Parks, based in Canmore, John uses wildlife research as a lens to inform decisions on the protection and management of Alberta parks and adjacent lands.  John works with a small army of dedicated and well organized volunteers  or citizen ecologists who contribute by collecting data on wildlife and human use in Kananaskis Country. He welcomes collaboration with other scientists, students and the public.

Sarah Hatt

President-Elect
As an aspiring wildlife biologist, Sarah is currently a second year undergraduate student at Lethbridge College. With an extensive background in administration, client relations, and working with non-profit organizations, she is experienced with fundraising, event planning, and public relations. Outside of academics, Sarah spends much of her time volunteering with numerous organizations including Helen Schuler Nature Centre, and Ducks Unlimited Canada, where she conducts field work and delivers public programming. She strives to share her passion for the outdoors and wildlife with others. Sarah also has vast experience serving on committees and board of director roles; within TWS she is currently the Lethbridge College Chapters Vice President and has been elected to be next years President, she is the student representative on the CSTWS membership committee, has previously met with the ACTWS membership committee to provide a students perspective, and is an active member of the Student Development Working Group (SDWG). If full time studies and endless volunteering wasn’t enough, she also works as an Ecology Student with Matrix Solutions Inc., is a mom of two very active children, and is an avid runner herself.

Samantha Stamler

Secretary-Treasurer
Samantha has an advanced diploma from Fleming College; specializing in biotechnology forensic science. She is currently a Wildlife Disease Technician with Alberta Environment and Parks and contributes to wildlife disease surveillance, monitoring, and management in Alberta, including; chronic wasting disease, avian influenza, and others. Samantha has experience in a variety of field work endeavours which spans throughout Alberta, including Jasper National Park, and her work is noted as a contributing author on two publications. Samantha has a deep-rooted love for the outdoors that stems from childhood summers spent with family; camping and canoeing around southern Ontario. She has nurtured that passion into a career and interest in conservation ever since. In her off time, she enjoys back country camping, hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, yoga, music, travel and photography.

Nicole Heim

President-Elect

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. Her experience working with large ranging species increased her interest and expertise in the principles of road ecology and the importance of landscape connectivity. 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 co-occurring carnivores found in the central Rocky Mountain region of Alberta. Over the past decade, Nicole has concentrated her efforts in parks and protected areas and adjacent lands. She has worked as a Park Ecologist for Alberta Parks within the Kananaskis Region and currently continues to apply her understanding of carnivore behaviour as a Wildlife Conflict Specialist in Banff National Park. Nicole is dedicated to conservation management 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.

Glenn Mack

Director
Glenn has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Nebraska and a MSc. in Biology from the University of Saskatchewan. Glenn has extensive experience leading, planning, coordinating, and implementing waterfowl research projects. He is currently the Provincial Wildlife Habitat Specialist for Environment and Parks where he works to ensure there are policies in place to conserve wildlife habitat throughout Alberta. Glenn’s professional interests include developing and improving policies that conserve wildlife habitat, waterfowl and upland game bird breeding ecology, and conservation planning. Outside of work, he spends as much time as possible hunting, fishing, backpacking, canoeing, x-c skiing, dog training, traveling and taking photos.

Emily Herdman

Director
Dr. Emily Herdman is currently a researcher at InnoTech Alberta working on a variety of programs involving biological monitoring. Prior to her current role, she was the Science Director for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute and worked for Alberta Environment and Parks in a variety of roles. Emily is passionate about ecological research, monitoring, management and policy. Her experience leading staff has motivated her to provide mentorship to those entering the field and looking to make a difference. While she has a diverse background in wildlife biology, she has always worked best with cranky or smelly animals including delightful species like marten and Turkey Vultures.

Robb Stavne

Director
Robb Stavne completed his M.Sc. at the University of Alberta in 2005 examining effects of cattle grazing on wetland bird communities in the Aspen Parkland. Since then, Robb has accumulated almost 20 years of experience as a wildlife ecologist, serving with Ducks Unlimited, Sustainable Resources Development (now AEP), Alberta Conservation Association, and Mercer International, and is a founding member and co-chair of the Boreal Nature Network. 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. Robb currently lives in Peace River from where he operates his consulting venture; Sora Ecological Consulting. When he is not hiking through the woods and grasslands for work, you might find him canoeing and fishing the rivers and lakes in North-west Alberta, hiking the back country, or laying in a crumpled mass of exhaustion.

Alyssa Bohart

Director

Alyssa is currently studying polar bear movement ecology for her MSc at the University of Alberta. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Honors Animal Biology at the University of Alberta. Her honors thesis examined prey selection of wolves and coyotes in Ya Ha Tinda. Outside of her education, Alyssa has dedicated her time to several organizations including Beaverhill Bird Observatory, Nature Alberta’s Nature Kids and Polar Bears International, where she has conducted field work and wildlife outreach. As an aspiring wildlife biologist she hopes to continue researching conservation issues as well as share her passion for wildlife conservation and public engagement

Remington Bracher

Student Director
Remington is a third-year Conservation Biology student at the University of Alberta and a recent graduate from NAIT’s Technical Conservation Biology program. After finishing his undergrad, he hopes to pursue a graduate program focusing on wildlife management and species reintroduction. As an avid hunter, angler, and registered trapper, you will continually find him out exploring the backcountry of Alberta. In his spare time, he’s an active volunteer for Alberta Conservation Association and Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association. Remington also serves as a committee member of The Parkland Pintails Chapter of Delta Waterfowl.

Mark Boyce

Conservation Affairs Committee Chair

Mark is Professor of Ecology and Alberta Conservation Association Chair in Fisheries and Wildlife at the University of Alberta.  He strives to ensure that sound science is used to inform wildlife management decisions, and supervises students working on population ecology, habitat selection, and conservation.  He has served as President of the ACTWS and is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and a Fellow of both The Wildlife Society and the Royal Society of Canada.

Kristie Derkson

Education & Information Committee

Nikki Paksar

Education & Information Lead

Nikki is currently finishing her BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta with a specialization in Conservation Biology. She has been enthralled with the natural world since childhood, and has continued to nurture and shape that passion into a career path. Throughout her undergrad experience, Nikki has worked for a variety of organizations including the Kluane Red Squirrel Project, the Beaverhill Bird Observatory, the Edmonton and Area Land Trust, and several research labs. She spends much of her time volunteering with non-profit and research projects, and sits on the CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter Conservation Committee and the EALT Youth Committee. As the former President of the U of A Chapter of The Wildlife Society for three consecutive years, she is eager to use her experience and connections to engage and support students in the Alberta Chapter. When she’s not volunteering, she’s hiking with her two duck tollers, learning calligraphy and fiddle tunes, or riding horses. As an aspiring environmental professional, Nikki hopes to pursue her masters in wildlife biology in the near future.

Jenny Foca

EDI Committee Co-chair
Jenny Foca is an MSc student at the University of Alberta. Her 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. Her research interests include population ecology, spatial ecology, and interspecific interactions. Jenny completed her BSc degree in Animal Science with a minor in Biology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, California. She then worked for California State Parks for 3 years before moving to Alberta to pursue her MSc. Jenny also serves as the treasurer for the University of Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society and is a board member of the Friends of Elk Island Society.

Ashley Shaw

EDI Committee Co-chair
Greetings! My name is Ashley (she/her), I am a daughter from an inter-religous marriage and a first generation POC. Currently, I am a regional consultant for the Métis Nation of Alberta and co-chair of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion board for the ACTWS. I’ve received a Bachelor’s from MacEwan University and a Master’s from the University of Saskatchewan. I’ve traveled to the Amazon Rainforest to study jungle ecology and wildlife. Additionally, I’ve spent too many hours in the lab analyzing parasitic effects in invertebrates. Soon, I hope to publish on the usage of GIS to depict Indigenous Knowledge and I am also working on a podcast to highlight the realities faced by first generation individuals within Canada. In the near future, I hope to gain a PhD in Indigenous relations and a certification in international affairs. Thank you!

Margo Pybus

Historian

Dr. Margo Pybus spent the better part of a life-time learning from wildlife.  She was schooled early in life among the fields, forests, and marshes of southern Ontario and later in the prairie, foothill, mountain, parkland, and boreal landscapes of Alberta and beyond..

Margo received a B.Sc. in Fish and Wildlife Biology and M.Sc. in Wildlife Parasitology, both from the University of Guelph.  She holds a PhD in Wildlife Parasitology from the University of Alberta and is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, UofA.  Margo is on staff with Alberta Fish and Wildlife as the first Provincial Wildlife Disease Specialist. She leads high profile provincial wildlife disease surveillance and management programs, including chronic wasting disease, West Nile virus, avian influenza, and rabies.

Alberta TWS member since the Chapter founding in 1989. Former Chapter newsletter editor, President, student mentor, Dedicated Service and Rowan Distinguished Service award recipient, and ongoing reference/repository for many things chapter-related.

Lalenia Neufeld

Webmaster

Layla is a caribou biologist with Parks Canada in Jasper National Park, and has been the ACTWS webmaster since 2007.  Layla grew up in rural Alberta adjacent to Alberta’s green zone (without a lot of neighbours, but with a lot of sticks, rocks, and wildlife). She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University of Alberta, and is a former president of the University of Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society.  Layla’s M.Sc. thesis examined dynamics of Little Smoky caribou and wolves in west-central Alberta. Her work with Parks Canada takes her to picturesque locations throughout Canada’s National Parks and she’s a key member of the caribou research, monitoring, and recovery team in the Canadian Rockies National Parks. Layla enjoys hiking, biking, music, travel, biology, and loves the outdoors;  she is looking forward to re-exploring favourite places with her two young children in coming years.

PO BOX 4990
Edmonton AB
T6E 5G8

Professional refers to someone who works with wildlife and/or their habitats in a professional setting.

In this context, it is not in reference to a legal professional designation.

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