Sustainability and Ecological Education Department SD47

Who is on the team?

Ryan E. BarfootRyan Barfoot

Ryan was eating dirt from day one. When the rains came and earth worms sought refuge on roadways, Ryan brought them to grassy salvation. From the land where the Eastern Hardwood forests meet the Canadian Shield, the rivers, lakes and valleys have always been Ryan's home. At 16 Ryan got his first job as a wilderness guide and ever since has been refining his practice and trying to better understand the conditions which make the profound probable.

Ryan Barfoot After graduating from the University of Victoria he completed his Bachelor of Education specializing in Outdoor and Experiential Learning at Queens University. Ryan completed a Masters of Education in Curriculum Development and Implementation at Simon Fraser University. His research interests include transformative education, contemporary Rites of Passage, place-based and ecological learning environments.
Ryan has delivered environmental education programs at the grassroots and governmental level. He has worked with Parks Canada, BC Parks, the National Forest Service and the National Parks Service before building the Outdoor & Ecological Learning department for the Powell River School District. He also chairs the district Sustainable Schools Committee and is the program coordinator for the Coast Mountain Academy. Ryan has piloted new sustainability programs with the BC Ministry of Education, and speaks / delivers workshops in the areas of Environmental and Nature-based Education. He is the BC Director for the Outdoor Council of Canada.
Ryan BarfootWith a passion for pretty much everything, he puts his heart and soul into all he does. Ryan is guided by his belief that a better world is possible and relentlessly endeavours to be a net benefit to the whole. He, his wife Karin and son Wren currently live in the old Townsite (Powell River) on the Sunshine Coast BC, Canada.



Karin WestlandKarin Westland

Karin Westland's life has been narrated by many landscapes. From her childhood in rural Colorado to her youth in the lake country of Northern Ontario, wild places have shaped who Karin is.

With a strong connection to nature, Karin pursued a Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Geography and English from the University of Victoria. From there, she made her way to Kingston Ontario to pursue a Bachelor's of Education in Outdoor and Experiential Learning at Queen's University. Recently Karin completed her Masters of Education at Simon Fraser University.


Karin Westland

Over the last 12 years, she has worked as an Outdoor and Sustainability Educator in the non-profit sector, National Parks, and the public education system. As cofounder and teacher in the Sustainability and Ecological Education Department in the Powell River School District, she has had countless opportunities to connect young people with the outdoors in a meaningful way. In her current position as the Sustainability Coordinator with the Powell River School District, Karin works with the Ministry of Education on related pilot projects and presently oversees the implementation of a variety of district-wide sustainability initiatives including Destination Conservation and our district's sustainability newsletter, The Green Glance.

Karin is inspired by community, music, and running long distances on rainy west coast days. With a strong vision that a more sustainable world is possible, she continues to keep an open mind, dedicating herself wholly to making the world a more equitable and sustainable place to live.





Alyssa Stapleton

Alyssa StapletonAlyssa Stapleton's passion for outdoor education began with her experiences in LEAP (Leadership Ecology Adventure Program) and the Coast Mountain Academy (CMA). Her experiences in these programs motivated her to become a formal outdoor educator herself, and she continues to contribute as a LEAP programmer and a CMA instructor.

Alyssa is a graduate of the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training program at Strathcona Park Lodge. She is certified as a West Coast Trail Guide as well as a wilderness first responder, assistant overnight sea kayak guide, and a flat-water canoe instructor. She is currently a student at the University of Victoria, majoring in Geography and Environmental Studies.

Alyssa's love for the outdoors has led her to become an advocate for the environment. She was the Canadian delegate for the Global Changemakers Youth Summit in London, UK, and for the Mike Horn Pangaea Young Explorers Program in Switzerland. She has also participated in an Otesha cycling and performance tour in Southern Ontario.

Alyssa is passionate about food security, and is currently getting her hands dirty in exploring the field of permaculture. She values traditional ecological knowledge and always aspires to further develop her skill set in self-reliance related trades. Alyssa is never one to ignore the call of the wild, and hopes to inspire others to answer that call.


Matt Emig

Matt EmigMatt Emig was brought up exploring the captivating beauty of BC's fertile plains and majestic mountains. He is an alumnus the Coast Mountain Academy and a member of Powell River Search and Rescue. Matt has several years experience as a guide and programmer for the Leadership Ecology Adventure Program (LEAP).

Matt has plays the fiddle the guitar and sings, and is a semi-professional musician. He believes that every piece of nature has its own sound, its own music or song that it continually proclaims as it points to wonderful things for us to discover, so there couldn't be anything more fitting than adding our sounds to this already existing symphony. Music is a great way to build relationships, tell stories, teach lessons, and remember the important things of the past. Most of all, music loves to inspire feelings of joy, and he believes that joy is great medicine if you will, for the soul.

Matt loves every aspect of his work, but his most cherished component is seeing the students break through the wall of fear and uncertainty and step into their true identities as the great leaders that they are. He believes that life flows through relationship and honour, so in this context not only do students learn to further their ability as leaders, but they also learn how to do life well.


Brett Heneke

Brett HenekeBrett Heneke is an outdoor environmental educator with twenty one years of experience in community organizations, camps, and schools. He is a graduate of Queen's University's Outdoor Experiential Education Program and has a degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria. He is a Level 1 kayak instructor, a Red Cross First Aid Instructor and has a certificate in Wilderness First Aid.

As well as being a teacher, Brett is an organic farmer, musician, wilderness guide, and father. He is co-founder of Rolling Earth Centre on the Sunshine Coast, an organic micro-farm and retreat for groups and families. Brett initiated the outdoor experiential program at Stratford Hall, Vancouver, and continues to co-ordinate outdoor programs for schools in the area.

LEAP Voyageur benefits from Brett's sustainable approach to outdoor education. He values responsible food production and the preservation of wilderness.



Janet May

Janet MayJanet May is a journalist, writer, radio broadcaster, and active volunteer in many local organizations, including CJMP radio, Powell River Community Forest, and the Academy Choir. She has a UBC degree in Forestry and has worked as a silviculture surveyor on the Sunshine Coast. Janet is privileged to introduce elementary students to their local forests with TRE-cycling, a program that uses the senses to discover cycles in the environment. She is also an enthusiastic Janet Maymentor to Coast Mountain Academy.

Growing up on the British Columbia coast has shaped Janet's sense of place and history. Residents of Powell River for over twenty years, Janet and her husband were introduced to outdoor education by their three children, all of whom attended school district #47 outdoor programs.

Everything feels better when you step outside, especially into a living green environment. Janet believes that cherishing nature is part of a healthy life. She enjoys being with people as they observe their environment in new ways. She is always learning from the people and ecosystems around her.



Jim and Gerrimae Sepkowski

Jim and Gerrimae SepkowskiWhen Jim Sepkowski left Alberta to travel he didn't know that he would fall in love with the sea. He met up with the Pacific Swift, a schooner run by SALTS ( Sail and Life Training Society) and joined her second off-shore voyage on the leg from Victoria to Costa Rica. He fell in love with sailing and remained to work with SALTs for five years, training young sailors and travelling the world.

Jim met Gerrimae Griffioen on board Pacific Swift and fell in love again. Both Jim and Gerrimae worked for years with SALTs, gaining a deep knowledge about the ocean, weather, and navigation, in short what it takes to be "water-savvy."

With the birth of their second child, the family settled in Powell River. But soon the ocean beckoned again. In 2007, Jim and Gerrimae set out in their refurbished fifty-foot schooner, Maryke Violet, and sailed west in the Pacific, for a year of adventures at sea, this time with their two teenage children. Since 2011 the couple have contributed to LEAP Aboard, combining the skills of a sea-going voyage with leadership training for students on the Maryke Violet.



Graham May

Graham MayGraham May is a Coast Mountain Academy and LEAP alumni with passions for outdoors sports, environmental science, and public policy. Recent research has brought him to Greenland, Washington D.C., and Istanbul, but he is excited to be back in his favourite eco-region: temperate rainforest. He has led initiatives such as a bike-powered environmental workshop tour across Canada and a circumpolar Arctic youth coalition. He currently sits on the Board of Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

Graham recently graduated from Mount Allison University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and International Relations. Graham loves to sing, sail, and swing dance, though usually not all at the same time.



Abby McLennan

Abby McLennanAbby spent her youth growing up on Vancouver Island, originating from the west coast Village of Gold River.  Surrounded by ocean, wildness and temperate rainforest, Abby soon developed a passion for living outdoors, exploring remote locations and being a steward for the planet.  Delving into sustainability studies, Abby graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science in Global Resource Systems.

Abby developed an itchy foot for travel through a UBC humanitarian water aid project in Guatemala and has since explored over 30 countries (current carbon off-set through her planting of over 200,000 trees). To feed the travel bug, Abby transitioned out of multiday sea kayak guiding to work for the National Outdoor Leadership School as a hiking and sea kayak instructor.  Recent contracts have taken her to remote pockets of south east Alaska, Chiliean Patagonia and the Pacific Northwest coast of BC.  These 28 day'ish expeditions challenge her personal growth, foster a deep connection with the natural world and fuel her environmental work as a Waste Management Educator for the Powell River Regional District.

Abby McLennanFeeling grateful to have found the beautiful region of Powell River, Abby enjoys sharing her skills and passion locally through working as a LEAP and Coast Mountain Academy instructor and plugging into SD47's Outdoor Learning Centre when she can.  Abby's day to day life includes urban gardening with her partner Marc, growing 50% of their food and expanding for more, resurrecting an old home, making time for adventure and trying to live a plastic free life – a challenge she throws out to you!