Nature Newfoundland and Labrador is a non-profit organization and registered charity promoting the enjoyment and conservation of wildlife and natural resources in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are this province’s oldest conservation organization (first established in 1910!) and were formerly called The Natural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. We continue to be one of the province’s most active environmental organizations and regularly partner with other groups to raise awareness about nature and host fun and educational events that help everyone get outside. Governed by a Board of Directors, we rely on volunteers and have part-time staff occasionally for specific projects. We’re funded by grants, donations, and your memberships! We are are our own organization and charity, and sometimes work with our national affiliate Nature Canada (formerly Canadian Nature Federation) on certain projects, or with other organizations.

We host interesting guest speakers as well as engaging outdoor events, hikes, and workshops. Monthly public talks are typically held from 7:30-9 pm on the third Thursday of the month, September through May. Our outdoor events run year round. Join us as a member to be invited to all our events or see our public events, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and blog for our latest news.

If you enjoy our programs, we appreciate your support. Memberships help us pay for costs associated with our programs (like holding insurance, snacks, storage, training, and materials) and help us fund further interesting and important nature and conservation projects. Join us or donate today.

Contact

[email protected] or message us on our Facebook page

Nature Newfoundland and Labrador, PO Box 1013, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), Canada, A1C 5M3

Our Staff

Executive Director – Marie Louise Aastrup

Marie Louise has always held a deep appreciation for nature. Her passion for the environment led her to pursue studies in geography and sustainable resource management, and today she holds a PhD in Environmental Geography from MUN focused on human-environment interactions. When she’s not in the office, she is outside hiking, hanging out with her chickens, or pursuing a new nature-oriented art project. Marie Louise joined Nature NL as the ED in August 2021.

Our Board of Directors

Executive

President – Vacant

Vice-President – MacGregor Parent

MacGregor (“Mac”) has always had a love for the ocean and holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and a Master of Marine Studies in Marine Spatial Planning and Management. She now works in managing Aquatic Invasive Species in NL at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Through the years Mac has fallen in love with the rugged beauty of this province and joined Nature NL in 2018 to learn more about the natural wonders the province has to offer and to help share her love of it. She is active in many of the education and outreach activities for Nature NL and manages the store. She can often be found outside hiking, biking, and running and when inside she enjoys knitting, reading, and baking.

Mac on Linkedin

Treasurer – Julia Sparkes

Julia holds a Bachelor of Science (Ecology and Conservation) and works for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). From botany to entomology, you can guarantee she has an ID guide for it, which makes her a great hiking companion! Julia has a passion for the preservation of wildlife and their natural habitat, including an interest in human dimensions and resource management. Julia represents Nature NL behind the scenes and at many local events, encouraging everyone to find their passion for nature.

Julia on Linkedin

Secretary – Beverly McClenaghan

Beverly works as a research biologist with a focus on environmental genomics. An avid birder and lover of the outdoors, Beverly has found herself very much at home in the wild landscapes of Newfoundland! She is a keen conservationist and loves sharing her passion for the natural world with others. Beverly has been volunteering and leading events with Nature NL for many years, including our Birdwatching Backpacks program, and a number of our well-attended birding walks. She also coordinates our hands-on monthly touch table program, Nature Nook at the Rooms.

Past President – Laura King

Laura King has been on the Board of Directors at Nature NL since 2015. She is interested in the relationship between outdoor recreation and conservation, and building Nature NL into an active and responsive charity and club. She organizes workshops and events for Nature NL, leads and co-leads events, manages volunteers and staff, and develops and manages a wide variety of projects. Laura works as a biologist and has presented some of her wildlife conservation stories in a Nature NL public lecture.

Twitter: @LaurasWildlife Linkedin

Directors

Jared Clarke

Jared grew up on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and was introduced to the outdoors at a very young age, mostly by his grandfathers. Always a nature enthusiast, he became interested in birds while working for a local conservation group. Jared soon became one of the most avid birders in the province. Despite his “official” training as a health researcher (Ph.D. Medicine), his love of nature and sharing it with others increasingly led him astray. He currently runs a renowned small bird and nature tour business, called Bird•The•Rock, and routinely leads trips at home and abroad for various tour companies.

Follow Jared’s adventures at birdtherock.com, or on Facebook or Instagram.

Sohil Pramij

Sohil is an educator, developer, and computer programmer, and French tutor and conversation leader who has been involved in environmental volunteering since high school. He designed and created the new Nature NL website and works on a variety of technology initiatives with Nature NL. He previously served as a Technical Lead with Enactus Memorial and Paradigm Hyperloop. He appreciates Newfoundland’s hiking opportunities, affordable tuition, and fresh air. His environmental interests include societal change, international climate action, and electric vehicles.

Sohil on Linkedin

Justin So

Justin So is a marine biologist from St. John’s who enjoys showcasing the natural world. Professionally, he has worked in environmental education, freshwater and marine habitat surveys, environmental assessment, and environmental effects monitoring. He is a huge fan of echinoderms, lichens, insects and citizen science and has long been involved in our nature writings and our blog and social media.

Justin on Linkedin

Gavan Watson

Gavan is a third-generation naturalist with a PhD in Environmental Education from York University. He is a recognized expert on the human dimensions of birding, having studied birders and their birding practices for his doctoral work. The results of this work have been reported in the popular press and in journals like Ontario Birds and Environmental Education Research. Gavan has worked to introduce others to the natural world, including developing and teaching a popular experiential course on the Natural History of Toronto, as well as leading tours for Quest Nature Tours to locations across North and Central America. Gavan is a father of two young boys and lives on a property that backs prime Bakeapple habitat.

Gavan on LinkedInTwitter, & Instagram

Sarah Wilkins

Sarah Wilkins is a biologist currently working in the environmental field and a born and raised islander. She began her volunteer experience with Nature NL in 2017 as a Nature Nook Interpreter and went on to act as the Events Coordinator for a period from 2019-2020. She is now excited to bring her passion for the province’s unique natural beauty and experience in interpretation to Nature NL in a more expanded role. Her natural interests include plants, fungi, and aquatic environments and when she does not have her biologist hat on she is a food lover, home cook, mother of (dog)ons, and city swimmer.

Abdul-Latif Alhassan

Abdul holds a Bachelors degree in Geography and Resource Development, an MA in Environmental Policy and currently pursuing his PhD in Transdisciplinary Sustainability at MUN. As a nature lover, the picturesque scenery and natural tranquility of NL makes it home for him. He likes to take a stroll in these and enjoy the beauty and wisdom of nature. Abdul brings on board a decade of project management skills and professional experience in the areas of capacity building & education, environmental impact assessment and sustainability, environmental policy and management, climate change, food security systems, and natural resource management. He is curious about how science-policy interaction, innovation, and action can be implemented to make communities and ecosystems resilient and sustainable and passionate about problem(s) solving.

Abdul on LinkedIn and Facebook

Alison March

Alison has a deep love and respect for life in Newfoundland and Labrador and is passionate about environmental conservation. She first became involved with Nature NL as a corporate member and pledges a portion of her company’s sales to the organization. As a new board member in Gander she’s excited to meet with other environmental change makers and lead some events in central to encourage people to get out and connect with nature.

Alison’s company Raw Island Botanicals handcrafts natural bath products inspired by the stories and scenery of the province. You can check them out at rawislandbotanicals.com, or on Facebook or Instagram.

Michael Plummer

Ever since he was a child, Michael Plummer has always had a fascination for the natural world, especially with insects, and would bring home bugs in his pant pockets. His early education lead him to pursue marine biology but later worked in a wilderness therapy program where he discovered a deeper connection with nature. Years later, he returned to graduate school where he trained to become a psychotherapist while remaining engaged in conservation efforts that worked to bring the natural wilderness back to his area. He carries this special connection he has with nature while pursuing his interests in rock climbing, mountaineering, and trail running. At Nature NL he hopes to advocate for the very few untouched wild places left and to continue to educate about the importance of our connection to the natural world.

Our People – a short history

Past Presidents: Laura King (2020-2022), Doug Ballam (2019-2020), Rita Anderson, Michael Collins (2010-2011), (with our former names the NL Natural History Society / Newfoundland Natural History Society: John Jacobs, John Gibson, Allan Stein, Don Steele, Len Zedel, John McConnell, Roger Burroughs, Derek Keats, F.A. Aldrich (1966), E. A. Bowring (1950), Professor Sleggs (1929))

Past board members (Presidents above were also board members): Megan Boucher, Sara Jenkins, Dave Wilson, Brandon Hanlon, Elizabeth Dollmont, Keerthi Ashokkumar, Michelle Fitzsimmons, Jennifer Sullivan, Tiffany Small, Arielle Przybysz, Nick White, Marjorie Evans, Emma Bocking, Liz Andres, Anne Storey, Allan Stein, Paul Regular, Chantelle Burke, Margie McMillan, Carolyn Walsh, John Gibson, Dave Snow, Len Zedel, Glen Ryan, Kim Bell, Rick Ballard, Andrea Procter, Julie Huntington, Raoul Andersen, Jennifer Higgins, Stephanie Porter, Reade Davis, Ed Hayden, and many, many more

Past staff / interns / contractors: Sarah Wilkins (2019-2020 climate change communications project), Elizabeth (Liz) Andres (2016 Connecting New Canadians with Nature project, in collaboration with the Association for New Canadians), Nailisa Tanner (2010-2011 YMCA Eco Intern, in collaboration with MUN, co-sponsored by The Outfitters), Rosalind (Roz) Ford (2011 Important Bird Areas project), Julie Huntington (Growing Health project)

Other Volunteers

Humber Natural History Society liaison: Lois Bateman (Corner Brook)

Volunteer Naturalists & Event Leaders: Lancy Cheng, Alvan Buckley, Catherine Barrett, Allison Mews, Doug Ballam

Committees

Bird Records Committee

Bruce Mactavish, Jared Clarke, John Wells, Alvan Buckley, Dave Fifield

Protected Places

Purpose: Support Nature NL’s mission to conserve nature through our support for ecologically well connected, representative systems of protected areas (parks and other area-based conservation measures) at the federal and provincial levels

Scope: Participation in terrestrial and marine protected area consultations and campaigns

MacGregor Parent (Chair), Doug Ballam, Nick White, Jen Sullivan, Laura King

Science Team

Purpose: Support Nature NL’s mission to conserve nature. Help conserve NL’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems through participation in government and industry processes, consultations (eg letter writings, meetings), and activities (research, position statements, etc). Use our scientific expertise to contribute advice, make suggestions, and raise questions.

Scope: Environmental/impact assessments (federal and provincial) related to oil and gas, forestry, resource development, etc; Species at Risk (endangered species) consultations

Laura King (Chair), Nick White, Tiffany Small, Len Zedel

Award Committees

Tuck-Walters Award Committee

Bill Montevecchi (Chair), Lois Bateman, Henry Mann, Nick White

Wild Things Scholarship Committee

Sara Jenkins (Coordinator) with board and external reviewers from the conservation community (names not released for privacy)

Internal operations

Finance

Julia Sparkes (Chair), Michelle Fitzsimmons, Laura King

Tech Team

Purpose: Ensure efficient, modern technological systems for Nature NL’s internal and external operations

Scope: Website, membership systems, communication systems, financial software, etc

Sohil Pramij (Chair), Julia Sparkes, Sara Jenkins, Laura King

HR Committee and Nominating Committee

Purpose: Ensure Nature NL has the right policies, procedures, and staff in place

Scope: Staff, contract, and volunteer management; development of HR policies

Sara Jenkins (Chair), Gavan Watson, Jared Clarke, Justin So, Laura King