Board of Directors & Staff

The information listed is valid from October 2023 through October 2024

Executive

Rachel Jones

President

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.

Jackson Hudecki

Vice-President

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!

Gabriel Esu

Secretary

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.

Kevin Empey

Treasurer

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.

Bill Lamond

Past President

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

Rachel Irwin

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!

Nancy Hurst

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.

Peter Langballe

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!

Charlie Briggs

Volunteer Director

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.

Rob Porter

Director-at-Large

About Rob Porter

Coming soon.

Claire Bennett

Membership Director

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!

Lou Mitton

Program Director

About Lou Mitton

Coming soon.

Brian Wylie

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.

Staff

Jen Baker

General 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!

Brittany Killingbeck

Stewardship Technician

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.

Coordinators

Jean Stollard

Mailing Coordinator

Brian Wylie

Junior Naturalists Coordinator

Catherine Flatt

Social Coordinator

Andrea MacLeod

Website Coordinator

Additional

Bill Lamond

The Wood Duck editor

Gord McNulty

Ontario Nature Representative

Vacant

Falcon Watch Lead Monitor