Sara Wilbur-Collins joined The Riverwood Conservancy in June 2021 with nearly 20 years of conservation organization experience, including her last role as the Executive Director of the Grand River Conservation Foundation. Sara is a Certified Fundraising Executive and is pursuing a Master of Conservation Leadership at the University of Guelph. Sara has a background in music, and in her spare time she likes to paddle and read. Sara is inspired by how TRC’s volunteers and staff connect people to the outdoors!
A lifelong naturalist and wildlife enthusiast, Derek Stone pursued his degree in Environmental Studies and Resource Management at Trent University with a focus on ecology and public policy. Since then, he has engaged in multiple positions that focus on monitoring and restoring degraded environments, and engaging the public with nature. As The Riverwood Conservancy’s Conservation and Program Manager, Derek focuses on creating strong connections between nature and people, and embracing those connections to support both our environment and our community.
Mirna Zaldivar joined The Riverwood Conservancy’s team after earning over 30 years of work experience. She is passionate about working with databases and creating essential reports, all while maintaining data integrity. Mirna works to develop new data management processes that create job efficiencies and keep data organized and easy to navigate. For leisure, Mirna enjoys walks and interacting with nature and animals while visiting different parks.
After volunteering at The Riverwood Conservancy for one year with Discovery@Riverwood programs and several fundraising initiatives, Maria DeVuono-Wallace was hired as the Volunteer Coordinator in November 2018. Prior to TRC, she held a number of roles including Administrative Assistant, Office Manager, Human Resources Manager, Project Manager, and Intake and On-boarding Manager. In her own volunteer life, she has organized and participated in fundraising activities and events with a variety of organizations.
Judy Opar was born in rural Quebec in the Eastern Townships, where she gained a huge appreciation for nature, wildflowers, and gardening. Judy attended Western University, then Queens University, graduating from the Smith School of Business before obtaining a Chartered Accountant designation. She has worked in finance for over 25 years, mainly in the charity/not-for-profit sector. Recently she obtained a Horticulture Certificate from the University of Guelph. She has three boys, aged 19, 21, and 23, the youngest one living with special needs.
When she was 24 years old, Beth Jones fled a PhD program in cognitive psychology to become an environmentalist. Her deep connection to the goal of preserving the earth's resources is evident in her career path – she’s worked for several years at Greenpeace, Transportation Options, and Green Communities Canada. But working at The Riverwood Conservancy is the first time a job has connected Beth to a piece of land. She is delighted to be working at, and getting to know, Riverwood.
Catherine Wassmandsorf has been an instructor of our LEADS program for seven years, and assumed the role of Education Program Manager in January 2021. She has developed and delivered programs for students from kindergarten to grade 12, as well as the public. She has collaborated with staff and clients to develop new programs such as Trigonometry Outdoors, Retreat in Nature, and the Indigenous-centered Nature's Truth program. Catherine is passionate about responsible conservation, inclusive education, and building respectful reciprocal relationships with local communities.
Kerry Furneaux has a love for the outdoors. With a background in horticultural therapy and garden design, she has worked as an educator and gardener at Riverwood for over five years. When she is not in the garden nurturing her plant babies, she can be found hanging out with the bees as an urban beekeeper and active member of the Toronto Beekeepers Collective.
As a visual artist with a passion for nature and horticulture, Taya Kehler learned to combine her talents while completing her degree in Landscape Architecture at Dalhousie University. Since then, Taya has pursued positions in nurseries, landscaping, garden design, and as The Riverwood Conservancy’s Horticulture Assistant, lending her creative eye to the gardens at Riverwood. As TRC’s Gardens Coordinator, her goal is to enhance the gardens with eco-friendly practices and year-round interest to encourage pollinators and welcome visitors to Riverwood.
Born and raised in Mississauga, Erin Farrow spent many summers at her family cottage near Bon Echo Provincial Park. While studying at Lakehead University, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Outdoor Leadership and Geography, as well as a Bachelor of Education. She has spent her professional career working and volunteering as a natural environment educator. Some of her favourite hobbies in nature include bird watching, gardening, and spending as much time as possible exploring the outdoors with her two kids and husband.
Brian Packham has been The Riverwood Conservancy’s Office Manager for over a decade, and has seen more changes to the organization than anyone currently on staff. Brian is central to many of the organization’s resources and activities, and may very well be the first face or voice you notice when contacting TRC or visiting Chappell House. An appropriate alternative title for Brian could be the knowledge keeper of lots of things. Brian enjoys the outdoors, travelling, music, and local history.
Prior to joining The Riverwood Conservancy, Rasheed Clarke held marketing and communications roles at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and Independent Financial Brokers of Canada, and worked in radio as a traffic reporter for stations in Toronto and Halifax. He has a diploma in Radio Broadcasting from Humber College, a certificate in Digital Communications from Sheridan College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Writing from the University of Toronto Mississauga. Outside of work Rasheed enjoys running, hiking, cycling, and hand-held foods.
Stephanie Keeler is an experienced environmental educator and enthusiast. She completed her degree in Biology and Geography at the University of Guelph and has spent several years submersing herself in Ontario’s biodiversity in the forests of Algonquin Park. She started her career with The Riverwood Conservancy as a substitute teacher for the Education Naturally Program. She now works as the Community Program Coordinator, planning, organizing, and leading virtual and in-person community programs.
After receiving an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, a Bachelor of Education from Brock University, and a Fundraising Management certificate from Humber College, Ivanca Naje put her passions and skills to work for organizations focused on education, the arts, and healthcare. As TRC's Development Associate, she works to build meaningful connections within the community she calls home. Ivanca considers herself to be a lifelong learner, as well as a lover of breakfast food and UK game shows.
Dave Taylor has worked with The Riverwood Conservancy since 2003, when he began developing the organization’s education programs. He is a retired science and geography teacher, having worked 31 years with Peel District School Board. An accomplished nature photographer and writer, Dave has authored 44 books on wildlife and ecology, and has produced educational videos about wildlife for both the public and to support school curriculum. Dave is a family man with a wife, two daughters, three granddaughters, and two sons-in-law.
Caroline McIntosh has over 30 years of human resources management and consulting experience in a variety of sectors, including various manufacturing industries as well as the non-profit sector. Caroline has served The Riverwood Conservancy for the past five years as the Human Resources Specialist for HR-related matters on an as needed basis. While she has served in HR functions for TRC on a part-time basis, she has held a full-time role as an Executive Recruiter for a major search firm.