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!
Sebastian Basualto, Nature Interpreter
Sebastian has been working in environmental education since 2011. He began as an instructor with Toronto Region Conservation Authority’s Outreach team. Sebastian returned to school in 2017 to pursue a master’s degree in education at York University specializing in environmental education and exploring themes of sustainability. In addition to being an instructor at the High Park Nature Centre, Sebastian also delivers programs at the McMichael Art Collection in Kleinburg. Sebastian looks forward to exploring high park and getting to meet students who enjoy being outdoors as much as he does.
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.
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.
Lesley Marino, Nature Interpreter
After 15 years in adult education, Lesley is transferring her teaching skills to the children’s outdoor education programs at the Nature Centre. She fell in love with the programming after her son started in Nature Babies and began volunteering soon after. Lesley has a Masters degree in Geography from the University of Waterloo and is currently completing her Masters of Teaching at OISE. She has always had a strong interest in conservation, environmental issues, place-based learning, and animal rights. Lesley is also a photographer and enjoys camping, collecting acorns, exploring High Park, 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.
Laura Nguyen, Nature Interpreter
Laura Nguyen has a bachelor’s degree in Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto and is happy to share what she has learned with eager stewards in the High Park community. She is back after previously working with the HPNC for 2 years and excited to continue to help others connect with the natural world. In all her years of academia, she has learned that nothing can replace the precious learning moments that come from engaging, hands-on outdoor education.
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.