Diana Teal, Executive Director
Diana first began working at the Nature Centre in 2004 as a nature interpreter. She worked in several different roles in the organization, including Executive Director, until 2013 when life presented her with an opportunity to move to Manitoba. For the past few years, Diana has been working in bird conservation and exploring the prairies. Now back at home in Toronto and living in the High Park area again, Diana couldn’t be more excited to return to the Nature Centre! When not at work, she can often be found hiking the trails of High Park in search of old growth trees, native wildflowers and birds. Diana holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from York University, a Bachelor of Education (Outdoor and Experiential Education specialist) from Queen’s, a diploma in Ecosystem Restoration from Niagara College and a certificate in Arboriculture from the University of Manitoba.
Jon Hayes, Program Director
Jon Hayes is an outdoor educator with a particular fondness for birds, plants and tiny things. Working as a nature interpreter at the High Park Nature Centre since spring 2007, Jon explores ways for people of all ages to appreciate and connect with nature. Jon loves photographing High Park’s nature. Take a look at some of his photos here! Jon is an apple connoisseur and his favourite smell in High Park is white pine needles on the forest floor.
Jess Pelow, Engagement Coordinator
Jess is an educator, blogger, amateur photographer, and professional nature nerd! She started out as a Nature Centre intern in 2014, then became a nature interpreter, and is now taking on a new role in administration. Before the Nature Centre, Jess was involved in nature-based education for nine summers with the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, while earning bachelor degrees in Environmental Studies and Education. Upon moving to Toronto, she completed a Master in Environmental Studies degree to explore environmental education in an urban setting.
Jaime Wu, Office Administrator
Jaime is super excited to support the amazing team of creative program coordinators and passionate educators at HPNC. She brings over ten years of experience in administration, plus a couple other nifty skills, like pie making and front-end coding. When she isn’t organizing stuff, Jaime is climbing the escarpment on two wheels, feeding her Red Wigglers, staring at her unfinished knitting project, and working in her garden – not all at the same time.
Full-time Teaching Staff
Katrina Maurer, School Programs Coordinator
Katrina began working at the Nature Centre in 2011. Working her way through the ranks from Naturalist Intern to School Programs Coordinator, Katrina is a lover of all things High Park. She enjoys experiencing the natural world through crafts and play. When not enjoying the Great Outdoors hiking, camping or cycling, Katrina can usually be found at home knitting, dreaming of being back Outside.
Mallory Parks, Camps and Community Programs Coordinator
Mallory is a cyclist, nature-lover, and global trekker. A graduate of the University of Toronto Master of Forest Conservation program, she has explored through the forests of New Zealand, Latin America, and the North American west coast. Her newest adventure involves the urban jungle of Toronto, where she hopes to spread her passion for conservation, environmental education and stewardship in the amazing wilderness that is High Park.
Julie Read, Family Programs Coordinator
Julie started volunteering at the Nature Centre because she loves spending as much time as she can in High Park. She then worked part-time before joining the Nature Centre full-time in February 2015. Julie is a qualified teacher with a background in outdoor education, recreational programming and social justice. She was raised in a house in the forest by two Naturalist parents who took her birding in Point Pelee every spring (even before she could walk), proving that her love of nature has been a lifelong adventure. Julie particularly enjoys hiking, meditating, swimming and taking photographs in nature. She considers it a privilege to help others connect to the natural world and learn more about the local ecosystem. When not at the Nature Centre, Julie is often found making music, riding a bicycle, cooking or doing yoga.
Chantale Spencer, Naturalist Teacher
Chantale began volunteering for High Park Nature Centre in early 2014 and joined as staff in the summer of 2014 . She has an bachelor degree in Psychology and Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto. She has over 10 years experience developing and implementing children’s programming across the city.
Chantale was drawn to High Park Nature Centre due to her love of children and connecting them to nature. She especially loves exploring High Park in the spring when the spring ephemerals appear and the park seems to come alive again after the winter. In her spare time she loves crafting, knitting, yoga and gardening.
Antoine Boyer, Nature Interpreter
Antoine is a recent graduate from Dalhousie University where he studied environmental engineering. Hailing from Alberta, he fell in love with the outdoors through family explorations in the Rocky Mountains. He is curious about the movement of water and finds himself following it on foot or in a canoe through wetlands, rivers, lakes and even oceans. Antoine previously worked leading hikes through the Canadian Rockies and canoe trips in the northern Canadian Shield for youth. Through these experiences he developed an understanding of the value of connecting youth to their natural ecosystem. In this regard, High Park is a perfect space to explore new plants, bugs, vegetation and fauna. Antoine is excited to develop new connections to the natural environment that surrounds him in his new home!
Chanel Alonzi, Nature Interpreter
Chanel joined the Nature Centre team as a volunteer in the winter of 2015 and teaching intern in the spring of 2016. She is a graduate from Queen’s Faculty of Education and is currently qualified to teach primary and junior grade levels in Ontario. Paired with her undergraduate degree in Biology and Psychology, Chanel is passionate about engaging students in curriculum-based experiential learning beyond the classroom. Inspired by her mother, a former educator and father, an avid naturalist, Chanel loves connecting students to meaningful moments in nature everyday.
Cindy Hignett, Nature Interpreter
I fell in love with High Park when I moved to Toronto in 2009 – so much that I moved right beside it! I started as a volunteer at the Nature Centre and I’ve been fortunate to spend many of my days exploring with school groups, clubs, birthday parties and family nature walks.
I graduated from Sir Sandford Fleming College in 2003 with diplomas in Terrain & Water and Environmental Technology. Since then I have worked for environmentally conscious not-for-profits, conservation authorities with a focus on restoration, aquatics, watersheds and wetlands, and a few years as an archaeologist.
I love hiking down to Grenadier Pond, digging around for benthic invertebrates and searching for fish in the pond. I hope to continue to learn from High Park and bestow my love and appreciation of all of its wonders to fellow visitors.
Claire McCann, Nature Interpreter
Originally from Scotland, Claire has been exploring the trails and waterways of High Park since she first arrived in Toronto in 2005. She received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto and has worked in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor educational settings with children and parents. She’s fascinated by the intersection between children’s natural curiosity and the natural world. She loves all the seasons of High Park, and highly recommends visiting in the middle of winter and experiencing the quiet of snow-covered woods and the beauty of frozen Grenadier pond. In her free time Claire plays guitar, writes songs, makes art and firmly believes that you’re never too old to play.
Lesley Marino, Nature Interpreter
After 15 years in adult education, Lesley is transferring her teaching skills to the childrens’ outdoor education programs at the Nature Centre. She fell in love with the programming after attending Nature Babies and Waddlers with her son and began volunteering soon after. Lesley has a masters degree in Geography from the University of Waterloo and has always had a strong interest in conservation, environmental issues and animal rights. Lesley is also a photographer and enjoys yoga, camping and spending time with her family.
Magali Meagher, Nature Interpreter
Magali fell in love with the High Park Nature Centre after participating in Nature Babies with her daughter. Since moving to the area 12 years ago she has been drawn to the ecology and social history of the park, the traditional territory of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Mississaugas of the New Credit. As an artist and musician Magali has participated and led imaginative projects that bring diverse people together with their environments for over 15 years. She is currently completing a Masters degree in Environmental Studies at York University with a focus on Environmental Education.
Nadine Nesbitt, Nature Interpreter
I began volunteering in winter 2014 at the Nature Center to share my love and fascination of the natural world. Currently I am finishing my Masters of Science at the University of Toronto studying plant leaf structure to estimate carbon uptake for climate change modelling. I grew up spending lots of time on the Niagara Escarpment where my curiosity for all things nature first blossomed, and am so happy to be sharing and sparking this same curiosity with everyone at the Nature Center while helping build connections between children and adults to our local ecosystems. When not in the park, I spend my time making stained glass creations, writing, and exploring our city and beyond. My favourite part of High Park is witnessing the small signs of nature when the seasons begin to change, and seeing the kids’ faces light up through outdoor learning and play.
Sarah Halonen, Nature Interpreter
Sarah is a life-long nature nerd who grew up in the vast wilderness of northern Ontario with a keen interest in all things teeny tiny. After earning degrees in Environmental Studies and Political Science, she joined the High Park Nature Centre team in 2005 where she honed her species identification and nature interpretation skills. Sarah quickly become dedicated to helping others explore, learn, and build awareness of the beauty and value of the natural world. After a leave of 2 years living in Germany learning about new species, becoming obsessed with insect macro photography, hiking alpine mountains, and sharpening her botanical sketching skills, Sarah is thrilled to return to the Nature Centre to pick up where she left off.