2017-2018 Board of Directors

Our directors come from varied walks of life and professional backgrounds. Each member contributes a broad range of skills, knowledge, and perspectives to the GCC, its programs, and its strategic direction.

Mark Hornell, Chairperson

Mark has been an Urban and Regional Planner for more than 30 years, working for cities, regional governments, and provincial agencies in Ontario and British Columbia. He runs Convivia Community Planning, a Victoria-based planning consultancy, and serves as a Planning Inspector for the Government of Bermuda.

Mark grew up in Kamloops and attended Cariboo College before completing a BA in Geography from the University of British Columbia, an MA in Regional Planning from the University of Waterloo, and an Urban Design Certificate from Simon Fraser University. A certified member of the Canadian Institute of Planners, sustainable land management and development has been a central focus of his career.

Mark learned his early lessons in conservation on his grandparents’ farms in Vernon and Penticton, and a love for BC’s grasslands from long hours walking the hills near Kamloops. He believes that compact urban development that allows people to live on and enjoy grasslands—coupled with the strategic protection of key pieces of pristine native grassland—will enable us to conserve our grasslands in a healthy and thriving condition in perpetuity.

BC Grasslands Board - Mark Hornell
BC Grasslands Board - TJ Walkem

TJ Walkem, Vice-Chairperson
Spences Bridge

Phil Youwe, Secretary/Treasurer
Heffley Creek

BC Grasslands Board - Ryan Holmes

David Borth, Director

David comes from a ranching background in Vanderhoof and now lives in Kamloops, where he gets out on the land as much as he can. He is currently the Executive Director for Rural Development with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development. David has a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Sciences from the University of British Columbia, with a major in Agricultural Economics and a minor in Range Management. He maintains his credentials by participating in several natural resource-based organizations, including the Invasive Species Council and the Society for Range Management, where he plays leadership roles. David is passionate about the valuable contributions that rural communities and people make to this beautiful province, and he strongly believes in the part that not-for-profit organizations like the GCC play in protecting the values associated with grasslands.

Mike Dedels, Director

Mike has had a long career working in the grasslands around Kamloops as a Range Agrologist with the Ministry of Forests in its various incarnations.

After graduating from UBC in 1983, and three summers in noxious weed control, he worked in wholesale and retail sales until starting in Range in 1990.

He has enjoyed working from the driest parts of the country around Ashcroft to the alpine meadows of the Robson Valley, and especially working with ranchers on the ground.

Implementing the Kamloops LRMP in the grasslands of the Tunkwa Lake area brought some of his greatest challenges and rewards.

Mike has worked recently in the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and is currently First Nations Business Agrologist with the Ministry of Agriculture, working with Bands around the province to help develop their agriculture potential.

He is a long-time member of the GCC and is passionate about its role.  A proud moment was having his picture on the front page of the Kamloops Daily News talking about “coniferous weeds” taking over grasslands.

BC Grasslands Board - Mike Dedels

Ryan Holmes, Director

Ryan is a transplant from the city who has set roots in the beautiful Bulkley Valley. He continues to grow after 12 years in Smithers, without the need for fertilizer. Ryan is a University of Victoria Geography grad, Professional Agrologist, and Project Management Professional whose first job out of university was the GIS Analyst for the GCC’s four-year BC Grasslands Mapping Project (2000-2004). Ryan has stayed on as a member, supporter, and now board member of the GCC because he feels that grassland, as the “minority 1%” in a province of trees, needs a strong voice.

Agnes Jackson, Director
Nicola Valley

Bob Haywood Farmer, Director

Bob Haywood-Farmer and his cousin own and operate Indian Gardens Ranch, a cattle ranch in the Thompson Nicola Region. His family has been ranching in Savona, BC for almost 100 years; the fourth generation will be keeping it in the family when Bob is ready to retire.

Bob is a member of the Interior Panel for the Agriculture Land Commission, the BC Cattlemen’s Association, and the BC Livestock Association. He represents the BCCA on the Canadian Intermountain Venture, bringing an important voice to the organization’s projects.

The late Dr. Bert Brink, conservationist and UBC professor, is credited with Bob’s passion for preserving this threatened ecosystem. “Dr. Brink was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about BC grasslands,” stated Bob, “that it was hard not to be interested.” He is dismayed with the many pressures driving the loss of grasslands. These threats include the fracturing of large lots into small holdings that result in a “mosaic of hobby farms”; and the lack of species diversity when clear-cut areas are re-vegetated.

Bob’s work as a director of GCC will include an emphasis on public engagement and education, as he feels policy change begins on the ground.

BC Grasslands Board - Peter Jones

Peter Jones, Director

Peter is a consultant with over 40 years’ experience promoting the wise stewardship of land and natural resources in British Columbia.

While working for the provincial government, Peter received Premier’s Awards for leading initiatives to improve the involvement of First Nations in resource management, preparing for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and for  leading the development of the Sea-to-Sky LRMP, which received a Sustainability Award from the Fraser Basin Council in 2009.

Peter was raised on a poultry farm in the Fraser Valley and developed a special interest in grasslands while working with Ducks Unlimited Canada in the Cariboo, Thompson-Okanagan, and Kootenay regions.  Peter has a geography degree and a diploma in forestry.

Bob Peart, Honorary Board Member

Bob has been a biologist and environmental educator for nearly 40 years, living in Victoria since the early 1980s.

After working in a variety of senior roles in government and environmental organizations, he is currently semi-retired/self-employed.

Bob has been involved in temperate grassland related issues since the mid-70s, and has worked to protect and conserve them at the international, national, provincial, and regional levels.

As the Founding Chair of the GCC, Bob has been a strong voice for keeping working ranches working, and for keeping the remaining BC grasslands ecologically intact.

BC Grasslands Board - Heather Richardson

Heather Richardson

Heather Richardson is the newest member of the Grasslands Conservation Council board, although her partnership with the GCC began while she was a Masters student at Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops). Raised in Southern Ontario, Heather has long been interested in the diverse landscapes and ecosystems of BC. Thus, after completing her undergrad at Queen’s University she was excited to head west to enter the Masters program at TRU.

Heather was delighted to do her thesis work for the Grasslands Conservation Council, who not only funded her research but also provided mentorship and support. She continues to demonstrate her commitment to natural resources management through her work as a professional agrologist for the Province.

Heather hopes that her youth will bring a fresh perspective to the GCC board; she looks forward to engaging a younger demographic in the important work of grasslands management.

David Hillary, Managing Director

Dave has spent over 20 years championing innovation, large landscape conservation, and sustainability. Prior to starting this role in August 2016, he held positions as Kootenay Conservation Program’s Program Manager, Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC) Director of Development for the North America Partnerships Initiative, and NCC’s Canadian Rocky Mountains Program Manager. Dave also worked as a Conservation Officer and Problem Wildlife Specialist with both the Ministry of Environment (BC) and the Department of Environmental Protection (Alberta). Previously, he was a full-time instructor in the Environmental Sciences Program at Lethbridge College. Dave believes that focusing on collaboration and strategic partnerships will help GCC improve the state of BC’s grasslands and benefit both people and nature in the process.

BC Grasslands Board -Executive Director - Dave Hillary
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