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Our Staff

rebecca
Rebecca Aston

Rebecca Aston

Educator (Kelowna), EcoCooks Club

Originally from the Vancouver area, Rebecca is excited to now call the Okanagan her forever home. With a background in plant-based nutrition and a lover of all things food, Rebecca also works as a Retail Operations Manager at Purdys Chocolatier. When not at work, you can usually find her whipping up a new recipe, going on a new adventure, or hiking the trails near Kelowna with her dog "Wedge".

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Jasmine
Jasmine Bal

Jasmine Bal

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks School

As a current Master of Community and Regional planning Student at UBC, Jasmine hopes to bridge her experiences and passion in environmental and food systems education into building resilient communities. She grew up exploring the trails of Burns Bog and the Watershed Park, in one of the province's largest agricultural communities on the traditional lands of the Tsawwassen and Musqueam Nations, in Delta. She feels her childhood combined with her ancestral roots in the farming region of Punjab, India compelled her to pursue a BSc. in Applied Biology, Food and Environment major.

Jasmine brings experience working with Fresh Roots, a non profit, as part of the inaugural Delta schoolyard farm team. For three years, she facilitated the 6-week summer leadership and empowerment program where youth developed employability skills and connection to the food system. She spent the last three years on the traditional and unceded territories of the Malahat and Quw’utsun Nations to manage a geodesic growing dome greenhouse and develop an agricultural education program at the Shawnigan Lake School. She is excited to be back In Vancouver, riding her bike on the Musqueam and Squamish territories she currently calls home. Jasmine is passionate about the power of education to empower and is excited to teach the EcoCooks program as a bilingual educator at Elements Society.

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laura
Laura Bamsey

Laura Bamsey

Manager (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

Laura Bamsey is a guest on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-watuth and Musqueam Nations and is experienced in non-profit management, community-based program development and facilitation, environmental education, and event management. She currently supports government, social enterprises, and non-profit organizations to develop youth, teacher and community programming and resources that connect to sustainability and leadership.
 

Laura has developed and delivered a variety of youth-focused workshops on energy and water conservation, zero-waste, food sovereignty, active transportation, climate change and much more. Laura is passionate about empowering youth to take action on climate change and is excited to have the opportunity to do this through the EcoCooks program.

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Serena Bonneville

Serena Bonneville

Communications Specialist (Vancouver), EcoCooks School

Serena is a communications wiz, passionate about sustainability, youth engagement, outdoor-ed and all things nature. Her experiences in facilitation have shaped the strong belief that youth have the power to not only make meaningful change, but take resilient action - and she tends not to surround herself with those who agree otherwise.
 

After getting a strong feel for life in corporate PR as a professional communications consultant with FleishmanHillard Highroad, one of the world’s top ranked global PR agencies, she moved on to private consulting for various non-profits in and around BC including the C2C BC Education Network, eMotive, Recycle BC, Youth4Action, and the BC Parks Foundation.
 

She now specializes solely in community engagement with a focus on connecting local organizations to people, place & planet. As Elements Society’s Communications and Engagement Specialist, she works in supporting programs that work to facilitate, inspire, and empower youth climate action.

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Ryan
Ryan Brigham

Ryan Brigham

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

Ryan has always had a passion for food. Whether they were growing food in their garden, cooking, or just eating, it has always been a central part of their life. Since moving to Vancouver in 2020, they have sought employment at vegan restaurants to learn new skills and techniques, and to learn new ways plants can be used to create our favourite dishes without the use of animal products. In their spare time, they enjoy reading, playing basketball, and getting together with friends."

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Kate Broughton

Kate Broughton

Instructional Design (Vancouver), EcoCooks School

Kate’s teaching philosophy centers around equity, inclusion, and empowerment. Honing her teaching practice through years of teaching a diverse range of subjects across all age groups, Kate has developed countless curricular units, projects, and assessment tools. Spending time working meaningfully with the elders, youth, and leadership of a community builds a fuller picture of what is needed at an educational level.
 

Kate’s commitment to community, fellowship, and connectedness is what truly sets her curriculum development strategy apart. Born in North Vancouver and raised in a rural village in Wiltshire, Kate has been immersed in land stewardship and environmental sustainability from a young age. Kate strives to make more sustainable choices at a personal level through her plant-based diet and commitment to a low-waste lifestyle.

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Emily
Emily Clark

Emily Clark

Educator (Calgary), EcoCooks School

Growing up in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta, Emily developed a strong connection to the land and all beings who make their home here. Her love of wildlife and passion for conserving the natural world led her to pursue a BSc in Conservation and Outdoor Recreation. Emily's academic and professional background equips her with a deep understanding of conservation and environmental challenges in Canada, particularly in human-wildlife coexistence, protected area management, and species-at-risk legislation. She is dedicated to weaving together Indigenous Ways of Knowing and western science in her work and continually improving her cultural competency as an environmental professional.

 

With facilitation experience in environmental interpretation, education, and outdoor recreation, Emily is eager to share her passion and commitment to plant-based and low-waste living as an educator in Calgary. She is excited to support and empower learners in building their own knowledge and capacity as stewards of the environment, and in recognizing that our well-being is inextricably linked with that of the natural environment. 

 

Emily enjoys exploring the diverse landscapes of Alberta and B.C. on her bicycle, skis, or with her backpacking gear. She is active in the Calgary queer community and volunteers as a program facilitator for social events. In her downtime, she can usually be found curled up with a cup of tea and a good book. 

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Anna C
Anna Crandall

Anna Crandall

Coordinator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks School

Anna’s love of nature and curiosity about the world led her to study Biology and International Development and sparked her desire to work towards a more just and sustainable world.

 

Her experience as an educator is diverse, with the through line being one of youth empowerment. She has been a classroom teacher, an outdoor educator, and an overseas trips facilitator. Anna continues to be inspired by the ability of young people to understand and innovate when making positive change.

In addition to her work as an educator, Anna has participated in cultural exchanges and cycling theatre tours, worked at a remote research station, and lived in a sustainable farming community. Anna loves growing and cooking vegetables, and has tried her hand at farming in four countries.

After growing up in Vancouver on the ancestral, unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples: Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Nations, Anna travelled and lived across Canada and internationally before realizing that the south coast of BC will always be home. When not in the classroom she can usually be found in the local mountains or at her local library. 

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Bonny
Bonny DeMelo

Bonny DeMelo

Educator (Kelowna), EcoCooks Club

Bonny is passionate about exploring varieties of cuisines that focus on in-season, plant-based ingredients. Having spent over a decade in the hospitality industry in the Lower Mainland, she later earned her Master in Counselling, focused on supporting the community through encouraging healthier lifestyle choices and mindfulness-based practices.

 

She has volunteered as Art Therapy support with the Canadian Mental Health Association, and enjoys supporting initiatives that encourage people to develop a more intentional approach to their day-to-day living. Bonny splits her time between Vernon and Kelowna with her family and is an avid crocheter. She enjoys arts and craft, playing ukulele and sings for her 8-year old daughter and 13-year old fur baby.

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Ella
Ella Kerr

Ella Kerr

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

While growing up in the Okanagan, Ella developed an early passion for ecology during her family’s camping trips. This motivated her to move to Vancouver and pursue a B.Sc. in Biology at UBC. During her academic journey, Ella worked as a nanny and volunteered with several eco-conscious non-profit organizations in the Vancouver area, including Growing Chefs and the Stanley Park Ecology Society. These experiences ignited her passion for educating and empowering youth, particularly in guiding them toward making environmentally conscious choices to benefit our planet. 

 

In Ella’s free time, she loves anything creative, such as painting, jewelry making, crocheting, and DIY projects. She also enjoys exploring Pacific Spirit Park, baking and attempting to walk her cats “Joey” and “Fred” around her neighbourhood.

 

Danielle
Danielle George

Danielle George

Coordinator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

Danielle has been working with food for over 25 years and presenting workshops or classes for 20 years. She loves combining these two passions and helping people feed their curious minds and hungry bellies at the same time.

 

Several years ago she founded a social club called Food Learning And Vegan Out-Reach, or F.L.A.V.O.R. to help anyone interested in learning more about plant-based eating and food preparation find resources and practice different techniques.

 

In her spare time she enjoys fostering animals, watching movies and playing video games.

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tanya
Tanya Granger

Tanya Granger

Marketing Manager (Kelowna), EcoCooks

Tanya respectfully acknowledges that she lives and works within the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. Originally from the Republic of South Africa, Tanya lived in various communities across the nation. She learnt from a young age, how to connect with people of different cultures, as well as the importance of stewardship of animals and the environment, as a caretaker of God’s creation.
 

Tanya has a background in Marketing and Communications, as well as Plant-Based Nutrition Coaching. She is mission driven and loves to partner with life changing non-profit programs and initiatives that help support a well-balanced lifestyle, whilst making a lasting social impact through sustainability and community development. She believes in educating and encouraging nutritional wellness in our youth and empowering a generation of environmentally responsible citizens. In her spare time Tanya enjoys hiking, swimming and exploring this diverse and beautiful landscape with her husband and son, visiting local farmers markets and creating tasty whole food plant-based meals.

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Dan Gregorash

Daniel Gregorash

Coordinator, Education Programs (Calgary), EcoCooks School

Growing up, Daniel idolized Bill Nye the Science Guy. As an educator, he is now living his dream of making science engaging, entertaining, and easy to understand. With a background in physics and mathematics, Daniel has always been interested in science and the natural world, but he also has love for the theatre and a flair for the dramatic. Through roles at museums, zoos, parks, and as a full-time teacher, he has found a way to merge these two passions and bring science to life, be it through classroom lessons or guided fossil hunting expeditions or even singing about decomposition while dressed as a mushroom. In all of his jobs, he has connected with learners of all ages, encouraging them to—as another of his idols, Miss Frizzle, would say—“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
 

Daniel is a worldwide traveller and loves going to exotic destinations to take in the amazing landscapes and wildlife. He has sunbathed with penguins in Africa, swam with whale sharks in Australia, and chilled with komodo dragons in Indonesia. He has also seen firsthand the impact our choices have on the environment, like plastic waste floating in the oceans and wild animal habitats being taken over by people. He understands how our choices may not seem impactful when we don’t see the consequences, and he wants to generate more awareness and urgency, but also more hope.

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cailey
Cailey Meuse

Cailey Meuse

Manager, Education Programs (Calgary), EcoCooks School

Growing up in Calgary, Cailey developed a strong connection to the land and outdoors as she explored the nearby mountains, foothills and prairies with her friends and family on the traditional territories of the Treaty 7 people of Southern Alberta and Métis Nation, Region 3. This connection to place is what led her to complete a B.Sc. in Geography before pursuing a B.Ed.

Combining her passions and skills, Cailey’s goal has been to empower young leaders by creating authentic experiences that build capacity and understanding - especially around environmental issues. She has been an educator in many settings: swimming, rock climbing, science-based summer camps, forest and wetland ecosystems field trips, and more recently as an elementary school teacher in Cochrane.

 

These previous experiences and her passion for taking climate action now support her current work as the Manager of Education Programs at Elements Society. When she is not in the classroom, Cailey can be found cuddled up with her cat, cooking a new recipe, doing a puzzle, or soaking up some sunshine outside.

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Avora
Avora Maitland-Collins

Avora Maitland-Collins

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

Avora is a student at UBC, pursuing a B.Sc. in Global Resource Systems within the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Her academic focus is on sustainable agriculture, and she is currently learning Spanish so that she can study abroad in Latin America to investigate traditional agroforestry systems. Plant-based cooking has been one of Avora’s passions for over six years, and she loves sharing new recipes with others. Avora is very grateful to have grown up in BC, and loves to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors through activities like hiking, cycling, and swimming. 

 

Having been interested in music for most of her life, Avora sings with the Vancouver Youth Choir and also sings competitively with UBC A Cappella. Her singing journey has taken her throughout Canada and internationally to Cuba and Türkiye, where she most recently performed at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Istanbul. Additionally, she enjoys songwriting, and plays guitar, violin, and alto saxophone. 

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pamela
Pam Murkin

Pamela Murkin

Executive Director (Kelowna), EcoCooks

After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, Pamela has enjoyed a community-minded career in fundraising, event planning and project management. She lives in Kelowna and volunteers on the VegFest Kelowna Organizing Committee. She is passionate about solving the climate crisis to leave a better planet for the next generation, including her own two kiddos.

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Saige
Saige Photo

Saige Patti

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks School

Delving into the fascinating world of plants and soil during university, Saige was inspired to unearth the links between science and society. This led her to complete an interdisciplinary BSc, examining how food and the environment can shape society and impact social justice.

As an energetic and committed educator, she has brought the art of storytelling into the classroom to inspire curiosity and facilitate question-based and play-based learning with students as young as two and as old as thirty. After teaching English to francophone students in a town in Quebec, Saige is excited to continue her French journey as a bilingual facilitator at Elements Society.

Saige believes in the power of education to create strong communities that can work together toward practical and accessible solutions to complex issues. She uses this philosophy to empower youth to take action, whether big or small, knowing that every drop in every stream gives rise to the surge of the ocean.

As a lover of both food and nature, Saige spends time outdoors hiking and cycling, trying new things in the kitchen, learning mending and repair skills to conserve materials, and finding new ways to bring sustainability into day-to-day life.

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Jennifer Pont

Jennifer Pont

Educator (Kelowna), EcoCooks Club

Jennifer is a fun-loving and enthusiastic instructor whose training business sends her throughout the Okanagan, consulting and teaching Foodsafe and Superhost courses. She grew up in culturally rich Nelson, BC, a town of environmentally-minded people who enjoy nature and open-minded conversations.
 

Since moving to Kelowna in 2003 for her Bachelor of Education degree, she has volunteered at a local shelter serving meals, spent 2 years with the Peachland Fire & Rescue Service and worked at the YMCA of Okanagan for 11 years before starting her training business. Jennifer and her husband are passionate about plant-based eating and love experimenting with different recipes!

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Lillijana Rakose

Lillijana Rakose

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

Lillijana is a student at UBC in Vancouver studying Food, Nutrition, and Health Sciences on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Musqueam People. She has a passion for the sciences and uses the kitchen as her lab where she often experiments with plant-based recipes in her free time.
 

Lillijana is experienced in working with youth as a lifelong member of Girl Guides and enjoys creating an inclusive and enthusiastic learning environment. She values hands-on learning, collaboration, and compassion and keeps these in focus when she interacts with youth. She also has a strong understanding of the complex system of connections between our food choices and the health of the planet. She cares very deeply about creating more awareness about the impacts of our everyday actions on our surroundings.
 

In her free time, you will likely find her on the pickleball courts or making collages with old magazines at home.

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Samantha Rogers

Samantha Rogers

Executive Director (Vancouver), EcoCooks

Samantha is a dedicated leader with a robust background in business and a passion for making a positive impact. Combining her formal education and experience in the non-profit sector, Samantha seamlessly integrates good business practices into organizations committed to making a difference for both people and the planet.

Raised in British Columbia, Samantha has a deep appreciation for the natural environment, considering environmental respect a fundamental aspect of daily life. During her education, Samantha was recognized with the Dean's Award for her undergraduate class, and she holds a Master of Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo, showcasing her commitment to excellence and expertise in the field.

 

Samantha's experience in the non-profit sector spans more than a decade and includes small and large organizations at both the local and national levels. Since joining Elements in 2019, Samantha has contributed to the organization's strength, resilience, and the expansion of programs that inspire Canadians to take environmental action.

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Abdo Souraya

Abdo Souraya

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

An environmental advocate and lover of plant-based cooking, Abdo feels right at home as an EcoCooks educator. Meandering down different academic disiplines, Abdo became fascinated with the socioeconomic, nutritional, and environmental complexities of food. This lead him to pursue an interdisciplinary B.S.c focusing on community food security. He has held research assistant positions in nutritional epidemiology and rural health evaluation.
 

Abdo is inspired by the transformative power of unified communities, believing that all individuals have influence on the food system. Having worked with youth across a number of local non-profit food settings, he feels particularly privileged to get to tap into that yearning for impact that so many young people carry.
 

When not in the classroom, Abdo can be found in the forest listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops against the forest's myriad surfaces, looking under the duff for fungi, or climbing rocks and trees with friends.

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Ally Steele

Ally Steele

Educator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks Club

Ally is passionate about working with the community to help aid in providing food literacy education and decreasing food insecurity. She is currently a nutrition student at UBC Vancouver.
 

It is important to Ally, that in providing environmental and nutritional education, it provides a perfect pair to help aid in global and local food insecurity. Climate change is one of the greatest risks to global malnutrition as many individuals depend on various resources that are directly or indirectly affected. Additionally, providing nutritional education to individuals provides the opportunity to better be able to optimize their diets.
 

Furthermore, Ally enjoys building her repertoire of experiences to gain new insight into the ever-growing field of nutrition and dietetics. Previously, she has had the opportunity to provide peer support for individuals struggling with eating disorders, helping a local dietitian and curating/teaching small nutrition curricula to students in designated Vancouver public schools with UBC Nutrikids. Ally is passionate about encouraging a healthy relationship with food while keeping nutrition education fun and enjoyable!

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Anna W
Anna Webster

Anna Webster

Educator (Kelowna), EcoCooks Club

From a young age, Anna was encouraged to experiment in the kitchen. Through cooking and baking she learned how creativity and fun could play an integral part of the enjoyment of the meal. Anna’s love of food was further nurtured during her time working at a culinary school. During this time she was introduced to a variety of diverse cuisines; many of which piqued her interest in plant-based nutrition.
 

Anna has completed a degree at the University of Winnipeg in Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies and Psychology. She has facilitated programs for children, youth, adults and families in various work and volunteer settings; specifically with a passion for helping vulnerable populations and communities.
 

Anna has lived in the Okanagan for over a decade and enjoys swimming, running, cooking, baking, making fresh pasta, and playing piano. She loves spending time with her friends, husband and her two wonderful sons.

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Ella Walmsley
Ella Walmsley

Ella Walmsley

Coordinator (Metro Vancouver), EcoCooks

ēnā koutou katoa

Ko tēnai taku mihi ki ngā tāngata whenua o te rohe nei.

Nō reira, tēnā tātau katoa.

Hailing from Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Ella is new to Vancouver and acknowledges the indigenous people of this area the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Spending childhood around Aotearoa’s coastline created a lasting connection to the world around her. Through volunteering opportunities in local parks Ella realized that working for nature was her passion.

Ella’s next step was achieving a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and Applied Conservation. During her degree she volunteered with a local waste wise community group, gaining knowledge in community organising and zero waste practices. Following her studies, Ella worked as an educator in the freshwater and marine spaces where for several years she has  engaged with a variety of people to tackle these issues head on.

Alongside her work, Ella has been part of Forest & Bird youth and has coached mountain biking. Working with enthusiastic environmental and outdoor individuals who inspire and support their peers has filled Ella's cup. In her own time Ella can often be found in a forest, mountain biking, poking around in a river or hiking up a mountain.

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