Meet the 2018/2019 Executives

President - Rick Baydack, Ph.D., CWB 

Dr. Rick Baydack is Professor and Chair of Environmental Science and Studies at the University of Manitoba, where he has been on faculty since 1979.  He has also held a number of academic administrative positions at the University of Manitoba, including Associate Dean (Academic) of the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources; Acting Head of the Department of Environment and Geography; Associate Director of the Natural Resources Institute; Chair of the University Senate Committee on Awards; and Graduate Chair of the Department of Environment and Geography and Natural Resources Institute.  He holds Honours Bachelor of Science (Zoology) and Master of Natural Resources Management degrees from the University of Manitoba, and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University.  His research interests include applied ecosystem management, conservation of biological diversity, wildlife conservation, and human dimensions of wildlife management.  His University teaching is in the areas Ecosystem Management, Biogeography, Environmental Field Investigations, Wildlife Management, and Sustainable Environmental Management.  He has been awarded the Hamerstrom Award for Excellence in Prairie Grouse research and management, the University of Manitoba President’s Outreach Award for outstanding contributions to the community, and has been recognized by The Wildlife Society as a Certified Wildlife Biologist and as a TWS Fellow. Rick served as Canadian Section Representative to TWS Council from 2007-2012, was elected as TWS Vice-President in 2013, advancing to the position of President of The Wildlife Society in 2014-2015, was Chair of the 22nd Annual Conference of The Wildlife Society held in Winnipeg in October 2015, and Co-Chair of the Vth International Wildlife Management Congress held in Sapporo, Japan in July 2015.  Rick was also previously elected as Chair of the TWS Biological Diversity Working Group, Vice-President of the Central Mountains and Plains Section, and President of the Manitoba Chapter.  He has been a TWS member since 1980.

Vice President - Dennis Brannen

Dennis Brannen is a Caribou Biologist with the Wildlife and Fisheries Branch of Manitoba Sustainable Development. Much of his work focuses on policy, management and monitoring of caribou populations in Manitoba. Currently, Dennis is leading Manitoba in the development of boreal caribou range plans. Dennis graduated from Acadia University with a M. Sc. (Biology) degree in Wildlife Ecology in 2004. Over the past fifteen years, Dennis has worked on many different wildlife management projects with the last 8 years focused primarily on Species at Risk management.

President Elect - Sonja E.R. Leverkus

Sonja owns and operates two uniquely Canadian companies: Shifting Mosaics Consulting, an ecological consulting company where she is the Sr. Ecosystem Scientist, and Northern Fire WoRx Corp., a company dedicated to prescribed fire and wildland fire where she is the Sr. Fire Lead.  Sonja’s specific interests are in conserving biodiversity from the past in the present for the future.  Her research includes specialization in pyric herbivory, landscape ecology, fire and range ecology and management, and cultural interactions.  She earned her PhD from Oklahoma State University (2015), B.A.(French) from the University of Victoria (2006), and B.Sc. (Agr.) in Environmental Biology from McGill University (2001).  Sonja is a Registered Professional Biologist, Professional Agrologist, Environmental Practitioner, Ignitions Specialist and AFE Certified Wildland Fire Professional.  Her specific interests include working with endangered species (wood bison, caribou) and developing creative approaches to industrialization mitigation (native plant propagation and implementation) while working with Governments, Indigenous Communities, stakeholders, and local communities across northern Canada.  Sonja has also recently joined Dr. Jen Beverly’s lab at the University of Alberta as an adjunct professor focusing on fire across Canada.  Sonja and her team recently revitalized the Peace-Liard Prescribed Fire Program based on the Landscape Disturbance Matrix and time since fire.  Sonja is a TWS Leadership Institute Alumni (2014) and she has served on numerous committees at local and national levels including the Society for Range Management.  Sonja looks forward to solidifying relationships across the North for the CSTWS and to working together with the Alberta Chapter for another epic joint-conference in 2019.


CSTWS Executive Coordinator/Past President - Dr. Erin McCance 

Erin currently co-owns and operates an Environmental consulting company, EcoLogic Environmental Inc., where she works as a Project Manager and Wildlife Biologist/Ecologist with a specific interest and focus on terrestrial mammals, namely boreal woodland caribou, moose, and wolves. Her work includes baseline and effects assessment on various landscape change/development projects. In addition to working as a wildlife biologist, Erin is a Sessional Instructor at the University of Manitoba, teaching 4th year and graduate level courses such as Ecosystem Management and Biogeography. 

Erin served for 6 consecutive years on the Manitoba Chapter Executive in the roles of student representative, member at large, president elect, president, and two years as past president (2007-2012). Erin also served for 2 years on the CSTWS executive in the role of Secretary/Treasurer (2009-2011). Over the past decade, Erin has served and chaired several committees at both the local and national levels. She is delighted to be a part of the CSTWS executive once again and looks forward to the opportunity to continue to support and grow this great organization. 

Certification Committee Co-Chair - Don Barnes

In 2013, I retired from Lakehead University after 40 years of service, where I worked to develop their first fish and wildlife program within the Faculty of Natural Resources Management.  Over the years, I have made every effort to become involved in wildlife proposals with special emphasis on furbearer biology and management.  In 1997 I completed a Master of Science degree researching and publishing on beaver dam ecology.  I have been a professional trapper in northwestern Ontario for 53 years.  This practical perspective, coupled with my academic background at Lakehead, has allowed me a unique opportunity to interact with students, trappers, First Nations, forest companies, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) in many research and management initiatives.

Being a university educator and a member of The Wildlife Society (TWS), both since 1974, my interest has always centred on student involvement culminating with my mentorship of the TWS Student Chapter at Lakehead University.  I have maintained professional status within TWS by receiving CWB designation in 1999. I have been involved in such working groups (WGs) as the College and University Education WG and the Native Peoples Wildlife WG.  Currently, I am a member of the Hunting, Trapping, and Conservation WG.  I am also a Director with the Northwestern Ontario Fur Trappers Association (NWFTA), the Trapper Representative and member of the Forest Management Team for the MNRF’s Dog River Matawin Local Citizens Advisory Committee.  I hold memberships with the Ontario Fur Managers Federation (OFMF), Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), and the Northern Ontario Sportsman Alliance (NOSA).     

Certification Committee Co-Chair - Al Arsenault

Past President - Dee Patriquin

Dee is an environmental consultant with specialties in wildlife biology and environmental policy development.  Her training includes a BSc and MSc in Zoology, and in 2014, she completed a PhD focusing on collaborative approaches to policy.  Through her 25 year career in environmental assessment and natural resource management, Dee has worked with clients across government and industry sectors to address management concerns based on best available science, innovative technologies and an inclusive, collaborative approach.  She is a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Alberta’s North and Augustana Campuses and has developed courses on environmental policy for Lakeland College and NAIT, relationships that allow her to maintain active links with the research community.  In her spare time, you can find Dee outdoors, hiking, canoeing or volunteering on wildlife projects near her home in the Beaver Hills moraine area, southeast of Edmonton.

Secretary - Ali Hughes-Juneau 

Ali is a recent graduate from the University of Alberta, where she majored in Biological Sciences. Throughout her undergraduate degree she developed a keen interest in conservation and genetics and is hoping to pursue a meaningful career in these areas. She has assisted in conservation and biodiversity research in the Amazon rain forest, and is excited to be a part of The Wildlife Society in Canada.

Treasurer - Rob Officer

Rob Officer is an Instructor and Academic Coordinator at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he instructs courses such as Environmental Management to Civil Engineers and Soils, Irrigation, Water Management and Turfgrass and Pest Management to Greenspace Management and Landscape Technician students. He has also worked as a fishing guide for lake trout in the Northwest Territories off and on for the past 20 years.

Rob holds a Bachelors of Environmental Studies and Business from the University of Winnipeg and a Masters of Environment from the University of Manitoba. He also holds diploma’s in Turfgrass Management, Horticulture and Adult Education.

Rob served five years on the Wildlife Society Manitoba Chapter executive with two of those years as President. He was also a fundraising co-chair for the 2015 Winnipeg Conference and has numerous other executive experiences with not-for-profit organizations.

Away from work Rob enjoys, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing and spending time with his family preferably in the outdoors.

TWS Section Coordinator - Mariah Simmons

Conservation Committee Chair - Chris Smith

Retired from Ducks Unlimited Canada, Chris spent his professional career working on boreal forest conservation. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist, graduate of the University of Montana, and lives in northern Manitoba. In the early years he worked as a regional biologist working on wetland management projects in the Saskatchewan River Delta. He spent 10 years as a biologist working for the forest industry where he worked on mitigating the implications of forest management on wildlife and other environmental concerns. He later returned to DUC and worked on a range of wetland conservation initiatives and across the boreal forest including wetland mapping, industry best management practices and various policy initiatives. He finished his career as Manager of Boreal Forest Conservation Programs.  

Section/Council Representative - Art Rodgers 

Art Rodgers is a Research Scientist at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Centre for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research in Thunder Bay where he is currently involved in a collaborative research program to develop a spatially-explicit PVA model for caribou in the boreal forest. He is an Adjunct Professor at Lakehead University, the University of Guelph, and Dalhousie University. In addition to being the Canadian Section Representative to The Wildlife Society Council, Art has served as President of the Section.

Membership Committee Chair - Merlin Shoesmith 

Awards Committee Chair - Wini Kessler

Winifred B. Kessler held faculty positions at the University of Idaho, Utah State University, and University of Northern British Columbia where she chaired the Forestry Program and was named the British Columbia Academic of the Year in 1997. She served 21 years with the U.S. Forest Service, retiring as a regional director for the Alaska Region.  She is a Fellow and Past President of The Wildlife Society and the 2017 recipient of the Aldo Leopold Memorial Award.  Wini serves on the Board of Directors for Ducks Unlimited Canada and is the Chair of  the Board of the BC Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. 

Education Committee Chair - Jennifer Rodgers


Newsletter/Website Editors - Derek Leask 

Derek is the co-owner and operator of Ecologic Environmental Inc. located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Responsible for the spatial component of the company, he is also conducting his masters research on the Cape Churchill caribou population, identifying the home range, seasonal core-use areas and analyzing movement patterns.  Derek has been responsible for maintaining the Canadian Section newsletter and website since early 2017.

Student Representative - Justine Josephson-Laidlaw

Justine is Masters student at the University of Manitoba. Her work focuses on studying the population demographics, habitat features and spatial ecology of urban Merlins. Previous work includes behavioural research of Peregrine falcons aimed to assist in a long-term conservation management plan. She is currently President-Elect for the Manitoba Chapter of the Wildlife Society and involved with wildlife rehabilitation.

British Columbia Chapter President - Rod Davis

Alberta Chapter President - Everett E. Hanna

Saskatchewan Chapter President - Adam Sprott

Manitoba Chapter President - Mitch Leclaire

Michel is a wildlife and fisheries biologist with EcoLogic Environmental Inc. Having completed a certificate in Natural Resource Management Technology from University College of the North in The Pas, an honours degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Manitoba and a Masters of Science degree at the University of Manitoba, Michel is well versed with all aspects of field related work to desktop research and analyses. Michel has several years of experience working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on population assessments of northern salmonids in the far reaches of the Canadian north. These projects gave Michel years of experience working with local aboriginals in remote northern communities and has exposed him to the challenges and rigors of northern fieldwork. Michel has worked on numerous wildlife baseline and monitoring projects in northern Manitoba. Michel has developed significant skills in data collection, data analysis, the writing of scientific and technical reports. Michel has delivered presentations, information sessions, and workshops to a wide array of people from varying backgrounds. His energetic and vibrant charisma engulf the audience into the subject matter. Michel is ready to take on new challenges and expand is experience.


Ontario Chapter President - Peter Hettinga

Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter President - Michel LaForge

To receive contact information for any of the current executive members, please email :