The 2010-2011 GCC Board of Directors consists of 17 board members, six of whom comprise the Executive. Our board members come from varied walks of life and a multitude of professional backgrounds. Each member contributes a wide range of skills, knowledge and opinions to our organization, its programs and its strategic direction.
Dave Zirnhelt (Chair), Big Lake Ranch
David was born and raised in the Cariboo and left for 10 years to attend University in Ottawa and Vancouver. He and his family raise cattle and are about to enter a transition into organic production. The Zirnhelt family has a woodlot and produces lumber, timberframe houses and birch syrup. David's formal education is in Political Science, but he has been a student of agriculture and forestry and has farmed/ranched for over 30 years. His volunteer activities include the GCC and the Board of the First Nations Agricultural Lending Association. He was an elected member of the Legislature in BC for 12 years from 1989 to 2001, where he served as Minister of Economic Development; Agriculture, Fish and Food; Forests; and Aboriginal Affairs. He is currently ranching and consulting in economic development and land use policy.
Bill Henwood (Treasurer), Vancouver
Bill was raised in the agricultural hinterland of Toronto, and as he grew up, he watched most of his childhood haunts disappear under the onslaught of urban growth. But he was also blessed with a family that liked to escape all that on the weekends, and they spent many in the lake and forest country of the Canadian shield. Bill thinks that duality allowed him to understand the difference between wild and unwild places, and he knew from an early age what he wanted to do in his professional life. He is fortunate to have worked in his chosen profession as a protected areas planner for 35 years, beginning as a planner in southern Alberta where his love of grasslands emerged.
Bill spent over two years travelling extensively around the world in the early 1980s, visiting, among many places, the grasslands of New Zealand, Australia, Asia and Africa. For the last 26 years, he has worked with Parks Canada in the field of establishing new national parks and national marine conservation areas. Most recently, he was involved in the establishment of the new national park in the Gulf Islands, protecting some of BC’s rare coastal grasslands, and the proposal to establish a new national park in the dry interior grasslands of British Columbia. He is currently the Project Manager for the study to assess the feasibility of establishing a national marine conservation area in the southern Strait of Georgia surrounding the Gulf Islands. As a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Bill founded and currently leads the Task Force on Grassland Protected Areas, with a mission to increase the level of protection for grasslands around the world.
Leanne Colombo (Secretary), Cranbrook
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Don Bennett, Kamloops
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Barry Booth, Prince George
Barry Booth works with The Land Conservancy and lives in Prince George, B.C.
King Campbell, Salmon Arm
King Campbell has been with Ducks Unlimited Canada (Kamloops) since 2001, after leaving the Range Officer position with the Ministry of Forests in Alexis Creek. King was in Alexis Creek with his wife Sonya for eleven years. The career change required them to leave their bunchgrass property with 2km of Chilcotin River frontage. King has had grassland management experience since his youth as a cowboy in the Okanagan, and several years of coordinating weed control and collecting bio-control agents for knapweed. These summer jobs were a motivator for his degree in Grazing Management from the University of Alberta. King is proud of the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stewardship projects he has facilitated with the Cariboo Cattlemen's Association. King enjoys using this experience to assist us in achieving the objectives of the Grassland Council.
Darren Dempsey, Kamloops
Darren Dempsey is a rancher in Kamloops, B.C.
Dr. Wendy Gardner, Kamloops
Wendy grew up on a farm in Ladner, BC and when she graduated from high school went to the University of British Columbia to complete a Bachelors Degree in Agricultural Sciences. She stayed on at UBC and completed a Masters Degree in animal nutrition. This led her to Kamloops where she started working as a technician with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Kamloops Range Station. It was there that she was introduced to the beauty of grasslands. She eventually went on to the University of Alberta to pursue her PhD in Renewable Resources and now works as an Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. As a member of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Wendy teaches grassland ecology, range management, fire ecology and management and a course on food systems. She loves being able to introduce students to the beauty and importance of grasslands. She also loves spending time with her family (husband Russ and daughter Bree) in the outdoors.
Dr. Lauchlan Fraser, Kamloops
Lauch is an associate professor in the natural resource science department at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C.
Bruce Gordon, Vancouver
Bruce Gordon is a lawyer in Vancouver, B.C
Judy Guichon, Quilchena
Judy Guichon is a rancher in the Nicola Valley.
Sonja Leverkus, Fort Nelson
Sonja Leverkus is a Range Agrologist for the Ministry of Range and Forests in Fort Nelson. She now find herself on the other side of the fence, from the ranch kid she once was to the person administering range tenures and management of Crown Land. Her passion for the land and enthusiasm for her job are infectious and her many partners in crime often find themselves in interesting adventures and situations every time they meet! Sonja is the Chair of the North East Prescribed Fire Council and the Chair of the Fort Nelson Invasive Plant Management Area Steering Committee. She is also a member of the BC Prescribed Fire Council and is pursuing her Masters in Fire Ecology and Range Management at Oklahoma State University.
Darrell Smith, Invermere
Darrell Smith was born and raised in Red Deer, Alberta. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Alberta, Darrell worked with the Alberta Forest Service in Edmonton and then, in 1988, in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, where he was in charge of the range management program , the first such position to be held outside of Edmonton. In 1995, Darrell accepted the Range Officer position with the Ministry of Forests in Invermere, BC. In 2002, Darrell left government and took on the challenge to build a partnership of private land conservation groups and agencies as the Program Manager for the East Kootenay Conservation Program. In 2007, Darrell accepted the current position he holds with the Ministry of Agriculture to lead agriculture initiatives and programs for the Kootenays.
Darrell has been married for almost 25 years to his wife Barb and they have two great kids who keep Dad very busy, but loving every bit of it!
Laila Salm, Kamloops
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Peter Stockdale, Enderby
Education: B. Vet Med. Univ of London, 1962; M.Sc. Avian Pathology 1965, Ph.D. Pathology/Parasitology 1969, Univ of Guelph: Post Doctoral Fellowship Medical Research Council, Ottawa, Biochemistry, Univ of California, Davis.
Career: Head of Department of Veterinary Microbiology, WCVM, U of Saskatchewan, 1977-1985. Director of Animal Diseases Research Institute, Lethbridge, Alta 1985-1990. Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. 1990-1997.
Interests: Organic Farmer, certified 2001 to present. Interface of farming , original ecosystems and biodiversity, Director, Board of Nature Canada, Member SOSNPC, Director, Certified Organic Agriculture British Columbia (COABC), Volunteer Warden, Ecological Reserve, Mt Griffin, Life Member Alpine Club of Canada.
Jim White, Kamloops
Jim was raised on a ranch, where he first started to develop the interests that came to be a love for grasslands. He is now ‘semi-retired,’ whatever that may mean, and lives just south of Kamloops.
Jim continues to spend a lot of time on the grasslands, on a good horse whenever possible, as principal of Rangelands Associates, a consulting firm in Kamloops that has worked primarily in the fields of rangeland inventory, monitoring and planning. He holds a degree in Rangeland Management, is a Professional Agrologist and Certified Professional in Rangeland Management. Jim has been active with the Grasslands Conservation Council for some years, serving on the board of directors and numerous committees, acting as vice-chair, and often assisting with the organization of the field workshops.
Prior to starting Rangelands Associates, Jim’s career was with the BC Forest Service, the last 19 years at Kamloops Forest District as Range Officer. In that position he led four to five staff, interacted with many of the 200 ranchers who graze about 30,000 cattle on Crown range, and helped ensure integration of grazing with wildlife, silviculture, recreation and natural values.
Jim and his wife Marilyn live just south of Kamloops. Marilyn is currently a practicing Parish Nurse. They try to spend a fair amount of time canoe-tripping and in other outdoor activities, are teaching their grandson about life on the land, and enjoy their involvement with the Alpha course in Kamloops.
Phil Youwe, Kamloops
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Honorary Board Member
Bob Peart, Sydney
Ever since seeing the grasslands for the first time, Bob Peart has been in love with that landscape. He helped establish the GCC and served as the first Chair.
Bob is a registered professional biologist, with a background in biology and education. He has worked for the past 35 years in parks planning and advocacy as well as public conservation education. He has been employed at both professional and senior management levels within government agencies including Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and the BC Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Bob has also held Executive Director positions with the BC Outdoor Recreation Council and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-BC Chapter, and has volunteered for numerous conservation organizations over the past 30 years. Bob is currently on the board of the Fraser Basin Council, The Child and Nature Alliance and The Kesho Trust.
Bob has been an avid outdoors person ever since he was a kid --- he particularly enjoys hiking, kayaking and birdwatching. Bob was recently presented Canada's highest conservation award, The J.B.Harkin Medal, for his lifelong achievement and dedication to nature.