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.
I began volunteering in winter 2014 at the Nature Centre 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 Centre 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.
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!
Auston Chhor, Nature Interpreter
My love of nature and science started early, as a boy I would search the library for the biggest books on dinosaurs I could find and take them home to read. Later on I got interested in the oceans, and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. I’m currently in my 3rd year as an undergraduate at Queen’s University, studying biology and geology. Here i’ve become even more interested in our oceans and have not let up on the dream of becoming a marine biologist. When i’m not studying you can find me on the water with my dragon boat team, fishing, biking, or rock climbing! I find great pride in teaching kids about the wonders of our environment, and seeing their faces light up when they begin to realize how cool everything really is.
Carina Nunes, Nature Interpreter
Carina’s love for High Park began when she moved to the city as a young child. She has fond memories of playing in the High Park castle, exploring the High park zoo, not only as a young child but growing up, as it was a great opportunity to take her siblings and friends to one of her favorite escapes within the big city. She is currently pursing a dual credential degree with York University and Fleming College where she is enrolled in the Ecosystem Technology Program. Her passions include marine protected area enhancement and volunteering with various conservation authorities and environmental non-profits. She aspires to work in the environmental field particularly with young children with whom she hopes to inspire into action for the preservation, protection and enhancement of our nature environment. These days she is completely absorbed in trying to ID nature around her, in particular birds by their calls and she can often be seen with her binoculars and field guide walking the trails of the Niagara escarpment.
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.
Danielle Prapavessis, Nature Interpreter
Driven by curiosity and interested in systems thinking, Danielle is a passionate environmental scientist and recent graduate from the University of Ottawa. She is particularly intrigued by the industrialized food system and how it intrinsically links the environment to politics, health and community. She has worked at a handful of leading community food centres and youth empowerment organizations in Canada and co-founded a nonprofit organization and educational partner, Seed by Seed whom with she cycled across Canada, delivering workshops and keynote presentations to youth nationwide about the power of food. Having recently moved to Toronto, she hopes to continue to facilitate and share her passion for the environment and experiential learning in the trails of High Park! In her down time, you can find her cycling the streets of the city, volunteering at her local farmer’s market and cooking up a storm for all of her loved ones.
Emma Whilding, Nature Interpreter
I’m currently working on my Environmental Studies degree at York University with a dual credential at Fleming College. I have always focused on conservation and Ecosystems Management. I’ve always loved the outdoors and educating, and after last summer where I combined the two loves I was absolutely hooked. I love working on mammal identification and I have a fondness for walking into the woods with an identification book. I’m working on my tree identification! While this will be my first summer working with the Nature Centre I am super excited to get to know the area and explore everything it holds.
Haya Aldoori, Nature Interpreter
Haya is a recent graduate of the Environmental Sciences program at the University of Guelph. She has lived most of her life in Mississauga but has recently moved to Toronto and is excited to learn more about the natural history and biodiversity of the city. Having spent about two months in British Columbia as an Avian Rehabilitation Intern, Haya is particularly fond of birds. Through her academic background, she is highly passionate about the relationships between people and the environment making High Park the ideal place for her to share her excitement in creating memorable outdoor experiences and generating interest in nature.
Kami Valkova, Nature Interpreter
Having recently completed a Master of Education degree studying outdoor integrated programs in Ontario, Kami is excited to be trading in her computer and textbooks for binoculars and field guides. She has been engaging youth and adults in various educational programming since 2009 and has no plans to slow down: she hopes to help others make meaningful connections with the natural world when they visit the High Park Nature Centre. Kami’s favourite thing to do in nature is learn about and identify fungi, and the coolest thing she has done is kayak with beluga whales in Churchill, MB! In her spare time, you can find Kami rock climbing, hiking, painting, or burying her nose in a good book.
Kristina Banatova, Nature Interpreter
Kristina joined wonderful HPNC team to learn more about Toronto’s ecosystems and to contribute to the restoration of the relationship between humans and nature. After traveling throughout Europe and North America, she decided to dedicate her life to nature preservation with a career in Landscape Architecture. Since 2015, Kristina has been organizing canoe tours to Algonquin Park and engaging hundreds of international people of all ages into educational camping activities. Traveling, assisting children with special needs and teaching people about natural world have inspired Kristina to work in the Nature Centre, and to continue raising environmental awareness through outdoor education. In her spare time Kris enjoys painting, reading non-fiction, hiking and canoeing with loons.
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.