Conservation Specialists

Students in ORPT learn about the importance of ensuring that natural areas are well managed to allow people to continue to enjoy recreating while also protecting the diversity of plants and wildlife that depend on natural environments.  Here are some alumni who entered a career in conservation after graduating from the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism.

Kaela Orton

Kaela holding a snapping turtleHBOR/BSc, 2013

Since graduating from ORPT in 2013, Kaela Orton (nee Paddick) has been working as a Species at Risk Technician for the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. She has been assisting with one of the longest running reptile conservation programs in Canada!

Kaela is involved in long-term research and recovery efforts for a number of at-risk snake and turtle species in southern Ontario, including the Endangered Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera). Efforts include mark-recapture, data collection, creating habitat, nest collection and incubation, and the release of thousands of hatchlings each year. Since it takes approximately 12-15 years for Softshells to reach reproductive maturity, it was not until recently that the population has shown an increase in the diversity of age classes, as a result of efforts that began in the early 1990s.  In this photo, Kaela holds an adult male Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Photo Credit: Scott Gillingwater

Calvin Samis

HBOR, 2018

Image of Calvin Samis holding a fishI completed an Honors Bachelor's of Outdoor Recreation with a focus in sustainable tourism and parks. It was an amazing experience and I met so many great people. I found at the start of my degree I was not motivated, I slacked off, I didn't put in what I should have. As the years went on, with help from the faculty, I found motivation and completed my degree. My experience in ORPT, the amazing professors, and all my fellow classmates, helped me take my education to heights I never thought I could. Rec showed me that I could be a source of positive change in the world.

I was a forest firefighter for a few years upon graduating. Learning group dynamics in ORPT gave me the experience to excel in being a forest firefighter. I learned to drive and push hard but I also learned to be honest and caring towards my team. I learned to be a true leader in every situation.

I worked hard and was promoted to crew boss. This leadership position that entailed working with a range of different people gave me the experience I needed to get a position with the Invasive Species Council of BC. I am now the Tourism Coordinator for the Council. I run all of their projects directed at the tourism industry to prevent the spread of invasive species. I work with government, public safety officials, tourism operators, Indigenous communities, and stakeholders to address issues of invasive species around BC.

I have to say, my experience in ORPT was the key. Whether you want to take it and go into parks, tourism or even education, the possibilities are endless. Outdoor Rec is what you make it. I encourage all ORPT students, past, present and future, to expand their horizons, go out into the world and bring your ORPT experience with you. Be a leader and be a teammate in every situation. Go find your calling.

Image of Craig Smith

Craig Smith

HBOR/BA (Geography), 2003

Current Position: Nova Scotia Program Director, Nature Conservancy of Canada

Following graduation, Craig guided for Outward Bound and others, and adventured widely. A move to Halifax to complete a Masters degree set him on the current path as a conservationist with Nature Conservancy of Canada. He lives there with his wife Mariane Wyllie (also an ORPT grad) and their two boys Myles and Levi. 


Kim Monaghan

HBOR/BSc, 2003

portrait of Kim MonaghanI graduated from the ORPT/Bachelor of Science program in 2003.  It was through the courses that I took in this double degree program that I gained a real passion for conservation.  My experience at Lakehead put me on course for some pretty amazing opportunities in an ever-expanding field of work!

Since graduating I've worked on ecological field studies for Ducks Unlimited in Saskatchewan and for the Canadian Wildlife Service in the eastern Arctic.  I also worked for a time in the field of ecological restoration in New Zealand.  Most recently I had a chance to work on private land conservation and stewardship with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The great thing about the Outdoor Recreation program was that it allowed me the chance to develop skills in many disciplines.  No other program would have offered me such a diversity of courses or given me the same opportunity to tailor my learning path to such a degree.  In addition to a well-rounded education, the program provided me with great opportunities to learn from my peers in a friendly, open-minded and supportive community atmosphere.

I had a great experience at Lakehead and I know that the ORPT program is what led me to pursue the work I'm doing today. Currently, I'm doing my Masters in Environmental Studies at Dalhousie in Halifax.  For my thesis project, I'm working in collaboration with Environment Canada to study how nature conservation projects can, in addition to using science to preserve the environment, help people to become more environmentally aware, caring and active.