Board of Directors & Staff
The information listed is valid from October 2023 through October 2024
About Rachel Jones
How long have you been involved with the HNC? I’ve been on the Board since 2020
Past roles: Field Events Director
Why did you get involved with the HNC? My passion for nature, community building, and desire to protect, preserve and raise awareness about our local environment.
Favourite local trail: The mighty Bruce! Particularly as it runs through Dundas Valley and Spencer Gorge
Favourite local fauna: I love herptiles – Jefferson salamander, red-spotted newt, spring peeper frog, spotted turtle and Eastern milksnake to name a few…
One thing you wish more people knew about Hamilton: Cootes Paradise is one of the most important migratory and biodiversity hotspots in the country, which makes it even more important to protect for future generations.
About Jackson Hudecki
How long have you been involved with the HNC? A member since 2012, on the Board since 2017
Past roles: Director at Large
Why did you get involved with the HNC? This club has some amazing people involved with it, as members, volunteers and staff, and because it dates back to 1919 — I wanted to help usher the decades of work through to the next chapter!
Favourite local Sanctuary: Cootes Paradise is a one of a kind place, and where you’ll find me a lot of the time.
Favourite local bird: I’m partial to Chimney Swifts, who have adapted to live alongside people but also spend their nights dwelling within gritty, sooty chimneys. How much more Hamilton can you get?!
One thing you wish more people knew about the HNC: I wish more people knew that the HNC is constantly morphing and evolving and striving towards a fruitful future, but that it takes collaboration and community. Want to give back somehow? Reach out!
About Gabriel Esu
How long have you been involved with the HNC? I joined the HNC as a member and board member in October 2022
Why did you get involved with the HNC? I have been a charitable service enthusiast for over 10 years, during which I have worked with various organizations in Nigeria and British Columbia advocating for low income earners and people of colour in our communities. Since moving to the GTA in the summer of 2022, I made a decision to also give part of myself to the support and appreciation of nature and the wild.
Favourite local trail: I’m fascinated by Bruce Trail because of its history and size, but I know there is a lot more to see and I look forward to discovering and savouring all that nature has to offer in this region.
One thing you wish more people knew about the HNC/Hamilton: The enormous opportunities to learn/appreciate more about nature as well as contribute to its conservation.
About Kevin Empey
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Since 2021
Why did you get involved with the HNC? I have been involved in the Bird Group for a number of years and decided to get more involved.
Favourite local trail: I really enjoy the Dundas Valley trails.
Favourite local bird: The Carolina Wren. I am from Toronto and never saw one. Now they visit my house regularly. Powerful voice!
One thing you wish more people knew about the Hamilton: How much green space there is.
About Bill Lamond
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Member since 1984, on Board since 2002 with a few breaks.
Past roles: Field Events, VP, President (now 2nd term)
Why did you get involved with the HNC? I was encouraged by Club member Kevin McLaughin to become a member so I did.
Favourite local trail: I really like the CNR Rail Trail in Brantford, where I live. It is not busy and traverses several different habitats.
Favourite local fauna: Red-tailed Hawk. It is such an interesting species that has adapted so well to man’s altered habitats.
Board of Directors
Bird Study Group Director
About Rachel Irwin
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Began participating in the Bird Study Group in 2020 and continued to join HNC events and outings!
Why did you get involved with the HNC? The people! After moving to Hamilton in 2020, I joined the HNC to learn and connect with this wonderful community. I wanted to learn more about Hamilton’s natural spaces and how I could take local action.
Favourite local Conservation Area: Princess Point!
Favourite local bird: Belted Kingfishers! I love watching them fly and dive headfirst into the water catching fish while paddling around Cootes Paradise!
One thing you wish more people knew about Hamilton: That you do not need to be a nature expert to get involved and participate in the HNC! I am so impressed and inspired by the number of initiatives, projects, people and more across Hamilton who are working towards preserving and protecting natural spaces while connecting people to the outdoors. It gives me a lot of hope for the future in a time when we need it most!
Conservation and Education Director
About Nancy Hurst
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Two years as a member before joining the Board in 2022.
Why did you get involved with the HNC? I am a former educator with a passion for nature and wanted to share what I know and learn what I don’t.
Favourite local Conservation Area: The Hermitage and Fifty Point beach
Favourite local flora: I love the wetlands that are found on the Hamilton Mountain farmland.
One thing you wish more people knew about Hamilton: I wish more people knew about the prime 1 farmland and wetlands that are found just south of Hamilton’s urban area.
Field Events Director
About Peter Langballe
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Over 10 years as a member; Board member since 2022
Why did you get involved with the HNC? I have always been a nature lover which led to living near the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) Arboretum which led to joining the HNC and the RBG.
Favourite local trail: Marsh Walk Trail in the RBG Arboretum
Favourite local bird: Wood Thrush — A forest bird whose ethereal song is the sound of summer
One thing you wish more people knew about the HNC: That you can check out events and meetings for free and actually joining is up to your own conscience!
About Charlie Briggs
How long have you been involved with the HNC? I have been volunteering with the HNC since moving to Hamilton in 2012 and joined the Board of Directors in 2020.
Past roles: My experience with the club began through assisting our Land Trust Manager on different projects throughout Hamilton and the club’s nature sanctuaries. My background in horticulture and arboriculture allowed me to participate with activities ranging from community gardening and tree planting to delivering educational presentations and tours for club members and area residents.
Why did you get involved with the HNC? The HNC is the perfect outlet to focus my volunteer efforts as a local resident. The club’s goals align with my personal ideals and I am passionate about our many ongoing projects.
Favourite local Land Sanctuary: Cartwright Nature Sanctuary
Favourite local flora: Eastern hemlock
One thing you wish more people knew about the HNC: The HNC’s projects reflect the diversity of the Hamilton Area. From continued efforts to expand the urban forest to maintaining the club’s 500+ acres of Nature Sanctuary, the HNC promotes healthy systems throughout the Hamilton Study Area. There are numerous ways to participate in club activities and become more familiar with the area’s landscape and the flora and fauna that inhabit it.
About Rob Porter
About Claire Bennett
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Since 2020
Why did you get involved with the HNC? I wanted to get involved with my new community and contribute to conserving the natural areas around the GTA.
Favourite local trail: Anishinaabe Waadiziwin trail at the RBG
Favourite local flora: Sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis)
One thing you wish more people knew about the HNC: I would love more people to know how, beyond the excellent work we lead, the HNC supports so many great local environmental initiatives around Hamilton!
About Lou Mitton
Sanctuary/Land Trust Director
About Brian Wylie
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Since the 70s! Active as a volunteer since 1990 as hike leader, Jr. Naturalist coordinator, various committees and 15 years on Board
Past roles: Field Events Director, Vice President and President
Favourite local Sanctuary: Cootes Paradise and its wonderful forests.
Land Trust Manager
About Jen Baker
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Staff 14 years, Board member about 3 years before becoming staff, volunteer about 20 years
Past roles: Secretary, general sanctuary volunteer
Why did you get involved with the HNC? There were lots of opportunities to be actively involved in protecting and learning about nature locally in a welcoming environment.
Favourite local Land Sanctuary: Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary, HNC’s first and a gem
Favourite local bird: Turkey Vulture, not everyone sees their beauty until they’re seen soaring in the sky.
One thing you wish more people knew about the HNC: Nature is everywhere in Hamilton and HNC has been involved in restoring and protecting a lot of it for a long time. There is a role for everyone to be involved in the work!
About Brittany Killingbeck
How long have you been involved with the HNC? Since 2022
Why did you get involved with the HNC? The HNC has a long history of protecting and conserving nature across Hamilton. In this position I am able to help a wide audience of people connect with and protect nature.
Favourite local trail: Any trail that connects to a marsh! Where ecosystems collide is where the most interesting wildlife sightings occur.
Favourite local fauna: Lilliput (Toxolasma parvum), a federally endangered and provincially threatened freshwater mussel that thrives in local waterways in defiance of its known sensitivity to pollution.
One thing you wish more people knew about the HNC/Hamilton: We’re always busy! On top of managing HNC’s nature sanctuaries, Jen and I manage numerous urban pollinator habitats across the City, provide outreach and education opportunities to local K-12 students and community groups, oversee the creation of Hamilton’s Biodiversity Action Plan, liaison with NGOs, municipalities, and community members about all things nature, and plan events throughout the year.