Promotions & Outreach Committee and Outings Committee
Nature photographer, Naturalist and Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society based in Toronto, Canada. Born in South Africa, moved to Canada in 1979. Worked in the technology industry for a number of years before deciding to pursue an interest in photography and nature. Zunaid spends a great deal of time hiking in and around the Toronto area, learning about the natural world, understanding our connection to the land, and studying wildlife behaviour. This led to a need to become more involved in nature conservation. Educating people about nature, enabling them to understand our connection to the land, what we need protect, conserve and restore has become one of the primary motivations behind his photography.
A retired management consultant, Laren developed her affinity for nature spending summers on the shores of Georgian Bay. She loves to hike and loves to garden, and believes strongly in the value of spending time in nature.
Laren’s current volunteer activities include ravine stewardship with the Toronto Master Gardeners, wildflower gardening at the Wye Marsh in Midland, and providing wheelchair assistance to patients at Sunnybrook Hospital. Laren has been active on a number of health care, community and professional boards, and looks forward to joining the board of TFN.
Action Committee, Lecture Committee
A graceful Sassafras tree shaded my bedroom window while growing up in Toronto’s west end. So it’s perhaps not surprising that I ended up with two degrees in botany from the University of Toronto. My career put me mostly behind a desk, though. I worked for non-profits and the Ontario government in environmental advocacy. From 1995 onwards I advised several Environmental Commissioners at Queen’s Park, where the tangled, thorny paths of environmental policy became familiar terrain. I have long admired TFN’s fine work. I especially appreciate the wisdom of TFN’s mission: to connect people with nature in Toronto.
As an accountant turned web developer, I spend most of my time indoors behind a screen. As an introvert, I find nature to be a healing agent. I love the small, beautiful pockets in Toronto where the racket of the city fades into the background and I can immerse myself in the symphony of the woods (forest, ravine, etc). I want to do my part to preserve and nurture these spaces (if possible, expand them). There is a connection between nature and humans which we never fully appreciate. At TFN, I can appreciate this connection.
Lynn started her love of nature while discovering the pond life at her Uncle’s farm near London, ON, and the desire to learn more has never left her. She has been on the TFN board of directors since 2009 and initiated the move into social media. She is also a Wildlife Care volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre and enjoys looking after and handling the animals she is responsible for – particularly bats!
Growing up in Toronto, Lillian has always appreciated the opportunities to connect with nature in this city. A long-time hiker and student of local and natural history, she joined TFN in 2014 to learn about the other species that call this region home. Lillian is a committed volunteer steward, enjoying getting her hands dirty to enhance and expand habitat at a number of sites in the west end. She has a passion for growing native plants and for capturing the wonders of nature with her camera.
Diana Wilson has been working to connect people to the GTA’s beautiful natural spaces for 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University with a specialization in Outdoor and Experiential Education and currently manages the Albion Hills Field Centre, an environmental education centre, for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. She is a facilitator of the Young Conservation Professionals, a province-wide program for people looking to develop leadership skills for the environmental sector. She is passionate about getting out on the trails, and vegetable and native plant gardening. Diana is working on turning her near-urban backyard in Brampton into an oasis for wildlife in the city. She is the mother of chubby little baby, Theodore, and is looking forward to sharing the joys of nature with him.
As a child, the riverbanks of London, Ontario were playgrounds for us, and the woods were a place to marvel at fireflies. As an adult, I spent a lot of time in parks around Ontario, but my academic training in the physical sciences never took me outside of the lab. During all of those years, I would not have been able to describe the state of the flora and fauna around me or their relationships. Joining the TFN in 2013 has been an inspiring experience as I have gradually learned about the connections in the natural world on the guided walks and from guest speakers in the monthly lectures. I became a steward at the Todmorden Wildflower Preserve, where I learned about invasive species and ecological restoration. Participating in TFN monitoring events at Cottonwood Flats revealed how a space can evolve back to a more natural state with a little help from humans. Doing this work has been a labor of love, and the sound of merry songbirds has been the biggest reward.
Jessica grew up in Buffalo, New York and always had an affinity for the outdoors whether it was exploring wetlands near the St. Lawrence River or abandoned fields around her home. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2005 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Environmental Science and in 2011 with a Masters of Forest Science. Since then, Jessica joined the City of Toronto in 2012 as a Forestry Data Collector with a focus on integrated pest management and forest threats. Jessica went on to manage the City’s Community Stewardship Program and has extensive experience in community engagement. Presently, Jessica is a Natural Environment Specialist with a focus on natural environment restoration projects in Toronto’s ravines, policy and planning, and volunteer programming. She is married to Mike Halferty who also works for the City and they hope to instill their love for nature in their son, Ansel.
Jessica is also an artist and painter and has been involved in many successful communication projects and social media campaigns with the City. Jessica focuses on natural and urban environments in her work and is greatly influenced by her experiences in Toronto’s ravines.
Philip has worked professionally to promote climate change solutions for 30 years. A key accomplishment was directing the City of Toronto’s climate agency for nine years. He also created a 400+ worldwide municipal climate solutions network, the Cities for Climate Protection. More recently in various projects and consulting assignments, he has promoted the wide adoption of LED streetlighting across Canada, Australia, and the U.K. He founded the Clean Air Partnership (CAP), and was the Board chair until 2019. Since 2015, he has been photographing natural landscapes at risk from climate change, including the Arctic, wetlands and Pacific islands.
I have loved the outdoors since a very young age, getting into trouble for going outside to play in the backyard before my parents were awake! I have always had plants and animals as ‘pets’. My love of Science and Mathematics attracted me to studies in Laboratory Technology, starting my career in Microbiology at Mount Sinai Hospital. I then furthered my studies obtaining a B.Sc. (Hon) in Biology and Chemistry at the University of Waterloo. After having 3 children, I realized how important outdoor education is for children. I returned to earn a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto and taught for several years. I had a unique teaching assignment as the Environmental Educator, taking students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 outdoors for Nature Adventures in the adjacent Humber Arboretum. I joined Humber College in 2005 as a Nature Educator and soon became a College Professor in Horticulture. My connection to the Land and my passion for the outdoors has led me recently to become involved in Early Childhood Education at Humber, co-leading a project to develop a Two-Eyed Land Based Play and Co-learning course that is co-taught by Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Professors. The graduates of this program will develop respectful and reciprocal relationships with the Land that they can share with young children.
I have also worked in the Humber Arboretum as the Environmental Stewardship Specialist, coordinating manual control of several species of invasives plants within the property and conducting research.
My husband and I love hiking in all seasons, camping in the wilderness, backpacking, canoeing and snowshoeing. We have passed on that love to our 3 children and, now, our 5 grandchildren are following in their footsteps (literally)! My hobbies are gardening (indoors and outdoors), sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery and furniture refinishing.