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2020 – 2021 Board of Directors


Rick Levick | President

Rick served as the coordinator of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project from 2007 to 2017. His initial involvement in this community-based initiative in road ecology was as the president of the Long Point Bay Anglers Association. As coordinator, Rick was responsible of all aspects of the project including fundraising, project management, financial administration and communications. He raised more than $2.7 million for the project which resulted in the installation of more than six kilometers of exclusion fencing and 12 wildlife culverts along the Causeway. These measures reduced the road mortality of turtles and snakes by nearly 80 per cent by 2015.

A “Long Pointer” since age 3, Rick brought more than 30 years of experience in public relations, project and non-profit management and science outreach to the project. He has a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario and is accredited with the Public Relations Society of Canada.  Rick joined the Board of Directors in 2017.

Rick can be reached at president@longpointbiosphere.com.

Valerie Hickey | Chair

Val is a workshop facilitator with a Master of Education and decades of experience designing and delivering high engagement consultations and meetings. She recently developed and delivered a Long Point World Biosphere workshop that brought members of the community together to provide inputs into the shared geospatial conservation database. Val also conducted a stakeholder and public engagement survey with recreational users of the St. Williams Conservation Reserve (SWCR).

As a dedicated member of the Norfolk community, she has served on the SWCR Community Council, on Norfolk’s Routes to Roots Film Festival Board, and has delivered the Community Leadership course at Fanshawe College, Simcoe.

Val is bilingual, and worked in organizational effectiveness primarily with IBM. Val’s passion is supporting initiatives that bring positive change to communities. Her interests are swimming, paddling, cycling and travel.

Val can be reached at chair@longpointbiosphere.com.

Brian Craig | Past President

Brian’s varied interest have led to careers as a musician with a southern rock band that toured Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, a teacher with the Oxford County Board of Education, a Senior Science Advisor with Environment Canada’s Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network and most recently until retirement as a Restoration Ecologist and Project Manager with Parks Canada.

Brian sits on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, the Carolinian Canada Coalition, and is the Past President of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve. He has degrees in Geography, and Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario, and Masters Certificate in Project Management from York University. Brian’s passion is working with community members in Norfolk County and the Long Point Biosphere to ensure social, cultural, economic and ecological sustainability for future generations. Norfolk County is the best place to live in the world!

David Simmonds, MBA CPA | Treasurer

David grew up in Tillsonburg and has enjoyed the Lake Erie waters and communities all his life.

After spending more than two decades with a professional accounting firm David created one of the first fully online and digital accounting firms in Canada. In early 2020 David sold his accounting practice to do some consulting with start up and high growth companies.

David has more than ten years of post secondary education including a college diploma in accounting, a university honors degree in commerce, a masters of business administration degree, and an accounting designation. When David is not working he enjoys kayaking the Long Point area as often as possible. David can be reached at treasurer@longpointbiosphere.com.

Andrew Couturier | Director at Large

Andrew Couturier is a Senior Analyst with Bird Studies Canada in Port Rowan. He sits on advisory committees for a multitude of national and international conservation initiatives, directs Bird Studies Canada’s GIS Laboratory, and leads one of BSC’s signature national programs, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). The Long Point World Biosphere Reserve, located at one of the premier bird migration corridors in North America, is among Canada’s most significant IBA’s, so Andrew’s appointment to the Board is a natural fit.

Andrew holds a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Guelph focused on landscape ecology, rural planning, and cumulative effects assessment. He has been with Bird Studies Canada since 1997, following brief appointments with Agriculture Canada, Parks Canada, and private consulting. His work is featured regularly in scientific papers, books, popular publications, websites, and field guides. A strong supporter of the non-profit sector, Andrew’s diverse interests include photography, nature, birding and music. He is delighted to join the Board and contribute to the next phase of its evolution.

Andrew joined the Board if Directors in 2017.

Amanda Houze | Director at Large

Amanda grew up in rural Southwestern Ontario, spending summers in Long Point for almost thirty years. Her family now shares a cottage, and she can be seen boating on Lake Erie, paddle boarding on the Old Cut, or walking on the beach.
Amanda holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Brock University and Master of Adult Education degree from St.Francis Xavier University. In her current position with Canada Life, she plays a pivotal role in the successful creation, implementation and measurement of learning resources, engagement strategies and change management plans. She has a passion for education and the environmental sustainability of the Long Point area.

Elaine Ho | Director at Large

Elaine is our only long-distance Board member, having moved from the Waterloo Region to Northern Ontario in 2020. Before joining the Board, Elaine connected with several Board members during her PhD research, which looks at ways to improve the design of river and freshwater estuary monitoring and management programs by incorporating accessible public and Indigenous engagement processes from the start.

Elaine is part of the Collaborative Water Program at University of Waterloo in addition to Global Water Futures, a nationwide research initiative representing the largest university-led investment in water research in history. She is affiliated with the Canadian Rivers Institute, has her own environmental consultancy and is the Director of Training and Consulting at Synergy Sustainability and Development Group.

A certified Project Management Professional, Elaine has a tendency to juggle multiple projects simultaneously, including coordinating development projects in a remote Kenyan Maasai community and representing the voices of women and academia on the international Facilitation Group for Action for Sustainable Development. In 2019, Elaine’s research won the “Our Water – Our Life – Most Valuable Resource” award from the Canadian Water Resources Association and in 2020 Elaine was nominated for the national Clean50 Emerging Leaders award for co-authoring Generation SDG, a national resource for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in Canada.

In her spare time, Elaine enjoys watching hummingbirds and Sandhill cranes, hiking the Northern Ontario wilderness with her family, canoeing and photography.

Leanne Gauthier-Helmer | Director at Large

Leanne Gauthier-Helmer is a keen naturalist, and photographer who focuses on Environmental Education as a format in which to help people appreciate the beauty and fascinating history of the natural world around us. When Leanne is not working with the creative crews at Fanshawe College, and Long Point Eco Adventures, she can often be found exploring the woodlots and wetlands of Ontario with her family and camera in tow. Leanne’s interests include cycling, running and hiking incredible distances.

Graham Ferguson | Director at Large

Graham Ferguson is the Owner, Captain and Interpretive Guide at Long Point Island Hugger Tours in Long Point Ontario. Graham has a boundless passion for speaking about our natural world and loves to show his guests the unique places which makes Long Point an unforgettable experience each time you visit. Graham entered college as a mature student in 2013 and graduated out of the first year Adventure, Expedition and Interpretive Leadership (AEL) Program at Fanshawe College, Simcoe Campus (2015). With the experience he gained in Co-op working in Muskoka, Graham immediately after school commenced working with his Co-op employer full time for two years also becoming a Small Vessel Captain while away from the Long Point area.


Melanie Graven | Director at Large

Melanie is prone to wandering and growing beautiful things of all kinds. She grew up in Southwestern Ontario’s temperate seasonal forests, then spent many years living on the grasslands of Saskatchewan and the Ozark Plateau of Oklahoma, immersing fully in those ecoregions. A distance hiker, she logs many miles annually under the weight of a backpack, dogs and kids in tow.

Her varied educational and employment history shares common threads, a desire to be outdoors, hands on and always learning. Either as a rod man on a survey crew, a ranch hand, or even as a battery operator on the oilfield.

As a tireless advocate for biodiversity, wild places and the power of the individual, Melanie can sometimes be found at home in Norfolk marrying food production with native plant restoration.

Tom Via |  Director at Large

Tom is an internationally experienced Senior Business Executive having led and successfully grown businesses across a diverse retail, wholesale, e-commerce and sports/ entertainment formats within Australia, Canada and the United States.  In his current role, Tom serves as Chief Operating Officer for Woodbine Entertainment. Tom is a strategic thinker with a strong bias for working collaboratively with colleagues, participants and stakeholders where desired outcomes can be achieved. Tom moved his family to Canada in 1999, proudly becoming Canadian citizens in 2005 and shares a Turkey Point home with his wife Laurene. They have been part time residents of Norfolk County for 20 years and are avid Lake Eric boaters. Tom is committed to working with the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation Board to promote and preserve the health of our Long Point Biosphere Reserve and Lake Erie eco-system to ensure enjoyment in perpetuity.


Sandy Jukes | Secretary and Administrative Coordinator

Sandy brings a wealth of not-for-profit experience from her former management positions with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada). Her role is to support the Board of Directors and to work with community partners to attain sustainable tourism and development.

Unlike the other directors and staff of the Biosphere, Sandy is a relative newcomer to Norfolk County. Having a keen interest in natural environs and their inhabitants, she and her husband made the decision to leave the “big city” of Hamilton and move to Port Rowan where they could immerse themselves in the ecological beauty this area has to offer. She brings a newcomer’s perspective to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainability of community development within the core area, buffer zone, and outer transition areas of the Long Point Biosphere Reserve.

Sandy can be reached at admin@longpointbiosphere.com.

Cynthia Brink | NatureHood Program Coordinator

Cynthia Brink from Chateauguay, Quebec grew up among a family of naturalist and outdoorsmen. Spending most of her developing years exploring her natural world and traveling with her family to exotic places like Peru, Cayman Island and Manaus, Brazil.

She is a mother to four feral children that now resides in Norfolk. With her passion for the natural world she has spent many hours in the field with her children homeschooling them through the use of their surroundings. In her spare time, she works as Administrative support to the St. Williams conservation reserve. She has also worked as the Nature Educator for Nature’s Calling Environmental Education teaching outdoor education and providing interpretive programs to the Provincial Parks in Haldimand and Norfolk areas.

Cynthia joined the Biosphere Reserve in January 2017 as the new NatureHood Coordinator.

Conscious of her impact on the environment Cynthia is always busy making improvements to achieve the goal of a low carbon foot print. Cynthia also enjoys what the Carolinian life zone has to offer in natural attractions. You may cross paths with her while hunting, fishing or harvesting wild foods to feed her family in the hope to be self-sustainable. Always learning and improving herself she continues to take classes on herbology and passive solar home building.

Cynthia can be reached at education@longpointbiosphere.com.

Tara Carpenter | Conference Manager

Tara Carpenter has had a love of nature and the outdoors from an early age thanks to growing up on a Norfolk County farm and regularly engaging in wildness camping trips with her family as a child. Having traveled many parts of the world for 17 years extended Tara’s knowledge of the natural world and her love for this earth we call home. The most memorable experience of her travels was being a deck hand on a sailing ship exploring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia for 6 years. Now being a mother to a very active, creative, and outdoors-loving eight year old has inspired Tara to encourage other parents and their families to get outdoors. Writing the column Out of the Ordinary for the magazine Live Small Town enables Tara to express her passions through writing. Delivering family outdoor events and curriculum based school programs at Whistling Gardens, one of the “Amazing Places” of Norfolk, has given Tara the opportunity to put her passions into action. It is her enthusiasm for the great outdoors, conservation, sustainability and education that motivated her desire to volunteer for the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve.
She is a recent graduate of the Adventure Expeditions and Interpretive Leadership Diploma program at Fanshawe College, Simcoe Campus. Tara is also a manager and river guide with the Grand River Rafting Company and the executive director of Grand River Outdoor Wilderness Education.

Tara manages the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation Research and Conservation Conference and can be reached at conference@longpointbiosphere.com.


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