Outreach Team
Outreach Coordinator
Jamie Phillips

Jamie graduated from the University of Victoria with a BSc in Biology with a concentration in marine biology. After graduation, Jamie went on to share her enthusiasm for science as a STEM youth Instructor with Science Venture in Victoria, and as an Environmental Science Instructor with the Whale Camp in New Brunswick. Jamie loves exploring the environment around her, spending much of her time outside either hiking or in the water SCUBA diving. She is excited to bring her passion and enthusiasm for outdoor and hands-on education to Nanaimo Science.

Outreach Educator (ECO Canada)
Maddy Hart

Maddy is a President’s Scholar at VIU in her final year pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a specialty in molecular and cellular biology. Born and raised here in Nanaimo, Maddy is very passionate about sustainability and our local ecosystem, and is looking forward to exploring it more and sharing her knowledge and experience with young curious minds. Maddy loves working with kids, and has previously worked as a tutor as well as in numerous camps throughout the city. In her free time, you will likely find her outdoors trail running, hiking, birding, camping or surfing trying to take full advantage of the west coast lifestyle. She cannot wait to meet all the junior scientists and share her love of learning and all things science with them!

Outreach Educator (ECO Canada)
Emily Pendergraft
Emily grew up in Washington state before moving to Vancouver Island to attend the University of Victoria. She has a BSc in Biology and is currently a student at Vancouver Island University for a BEd to teach high school science. She recently finished a practicum teaching Grade 8 and 12 science and math in Nanaimo.
Emily has been involved in science education for years including at the Victoria Bug Zoo, Horne Lake Caves Prov. Park, and volunteer bird banding. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, and cooking. Emily has been working for Nanaimo Science since 2019 and is very excited for another summer full of science fun!
Outreach Educator (Canada Summer Jobs)
Clayton Harder

Clayton is a current student at VIU working towards getting his teacher’s degree. He is originally from Port McNeill on the North island and enjoys hiking, observing wildlife, and anything to do with the ocean. Clayton was also a participant at the Canada Wide Science Fair twice and was awarded bronze and silver medals. He is excited to share his knowledge and experience with others and can’t wait to meet you!

Outreach Educator (Canada Summer Jobs)
Holly Turner

Holly is a second year Arthur Irving Scholar at Acadia University where she’s studying Biology and Environmental Science. Outside of the classroom, Holly volunteers in Acadia’s seed bank preserving native species and working with local vineyards doing grapevine research. In high school she was the co-president of the Environmental Committee, cofounder of the Youth Climate Action Network, and a finalist in the NASA Student Spaceflight Experiment Program. She remains passionate about the role of science in environmentalism and hopes to continue sharing this passion with youth. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outside swimming, skateboarding, and horseback riding. She’s looking forward to a fun and exciting summer of sharing her knowledge and interests through Nanaimo Science.

Outreach Educator (Canada Summer Jobs)
Grace Thompson

Grace just completed her second year at the University of Victoria where she is on her way to get a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

While she loves island life, she hasn’t lived here for too long.  She grew up in the Kootenays where she spent plenty of time in the woods. There, Grace had tons of fun working many summers as a camp counsellor at an overnight outdoor education camp called Blue Lake. Here in her new found home on Vancouver Island, in her search to continue helping kids learn and grow, she found Nanaimo Science.

When not working or doing school, she enjoys camping and spending time on the beach. She truly cannot wait to run some super cool science lessons for you!!

Outreach Educator (Canada Summer Jobs)
Abbie MacDougall
Abbie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Vancouver Island University and is currently in the Education Program. In this program, she has discovered a love for teaching STEM and outdoor education. With only one semester remaining, her goal is to become an elementary teacher here on Vancouver Island.
Abbie is from Nanaimo and enjoys exploring local hiking trails with her dogs, and camping. She looks forward with excitement to what this summer holds with Nanaimo Science.
Outreach Educator (Canada Summer Jobs)
Stefania Conley

Stefania is a student at Vancouver Island University where she just finished her first year and is working towards getting her Bachelor’s in Education to become a teacher. She’s specializing in math and geography, and loves exploring science and is excited to share it with others as well. She has lived on the island her whole life and loves exploring its beautiful nature through hiking, camping, and biking. She also likes to read, play board games, and hang out with her two cats in her spare time. She’s looking forward to a fun-filled summer with Nanaimo Science!

Executive Staff
Executive Director
Elaine Parker

Elaine graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Arts (English) in 2000. After completing graduate studies at the University of Alberta in Developmental Psychology and Curriculum Development, she found her passion working with non-profit societies, particularly with post-secondary students.

Elaine has held the position of Executive Director at the Alberta College & Technical Institute Student Executive Council; at the Graduate Students Association at the University of Alberta, and at the Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University. In Nanaimo, she worked as a Marketing Consultant with SEAMOR Marine (an ROV design and production company), the Morrell Nature Sanctuary, and has joined Nanaimo Science as Executive Director in February 2020.

Board of Directors
Susan Shultz

Susan is owner & operator of Island Architectural Millwork Ltd., a commercial woodworking company based in Nanaimo. Susan has worked in woodworking for over 30 years, and has been responsible for designing & building sustainable LEED™ certified woodworking installations throughout North America. Susan is excited to use her creative abilities to build amazing exhibits that keep your kids (and hers) entertained and learning through hands on fun. Woodworking, design & construction have been a passion since she was 10 and she wants to see kids experience different avenues to find out what ignites their fire!

Vice Chair/Board Member
Wendy Simms

Wendy Simms has worked in the Biology Department at Vancouver Island University since 2000 and has co-curated the VIU Natural History Museum since 2008. She has a strong interest in science education and community outreach and volunteers with Science World’s Scientists and Innovators in the Schools program. She has a BSc in Ecology, an MSc in Wildlife Toxicology and is currently working on a doctorate degree in Education at the University of Calgary. Her research interest lies within the learning potential of citizen science, and the influence social networks have on environmental identity and behaviour. She has been helping develop the Nanaimo Science Citizen Science Varnish Clam Project.

Treasurer/Board Member
Cory Vanderhorst

Cory is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Partner with MNP LLP. He works with non-profit and public sector organizations from Victoria to Port Hardy, and takes pride in giving back to his Island community. Cory is also the past Board Chair of the Innovation Island Technology Association and a Board member for the Islands Agriculture Show Society. Cory grew up in Courtenay and currently lives in Nanoose Bay.

Secretary/Board Member
Sarah Dhillon
Sarah is passionate about the importance of curiosity and lifelong learning. She loves exploring Vancouver Island with her kids and frequently has a camera roll full of interesting fungi and flora waiting to be identified. She thoroughly enjoys cultivating curiosity and learning within her own family.
Nanaimo Science has been an integral part of that since the Dhillon family moved to Nanaimo in 2017 and discovered Nanaimo Science through their Science in the Park program. Having lived in a few different provinces and territories since the kids were small, the Dhillons are always thrilled to find engaging community programs and Sarah is excited to have the opportunity to support and further Nanaimo Science’s aim to inspire curious minds as a member of the board.
As a Certified Financial Planner professional and a graduate of the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Commerce, Sarah has many years of experience in working with clients to achieve their financial goals. She has also actively volunteered to promote financial literacy in her community by running seminars for young families in Yellowknife and presenting programs for Junior Achievement BC within local Nanaimo high schools. 
Board Member
Lily Foster

Lily considers herself to be a social advocate, having spent the last decade volunteering with a Parent Advisory Council and working at non-profits to connect people from all walks of life. She is excited to next apply her life experience to help strengthen education programs at Nanaimo Science.

In another life, Lily had a career in public health doing HIV and hepatitis research; she holds a BSc in molecular biology and MSc in Public Health Epidemiology. Lily’s family includes a spouse who works at VIU and two boys in elementary and high school; they are relatively new to Nanaimo and taking every opportunity to explore all that island life has to offer.

Board Member
Kristina Crowson

Kristina is the managing director and lead marketing strategist for Array Studios based in Nanaimo. As a natural born leader and communicator, she excels at boosting development and growth for businesses across all industries. With over 13 years of experience in solutions-based marketing, Kristina brings a strong creative background and perspective to the table. And as a Vancouver Island local and mom, she’s deeply involved and intimate with the surrounding community.

Board Member
Amy Tabata

Amy Tabata is a biologist who has worked at the Pacific Biological Station for Fisheries and Oceans Canada since 2000.  She spent many years in the Molecular Genetics group, using genetics to aid in research and applied science of fish, and now works on improving the understanding the ocean ecology of juvenile salmon.  Amy grew up exploring the beaches, and forests around Nanaimo, and now loves being on the water or amongst the trees with her own family. She values making science accessible to all, fostering curiosity and creativity, the importance of asking questions and the fun in figuring out how to find the answers.

Former Board Members
Co-Founder, Former President
Sue Durnin

During a rainy winter day on Vancouver Island, Sue dreamed of an educational, hands-on place where she could take her kids to help them better understand the world around them. From this dream, the roots of the Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society took hold. Sue has worked as an environmental consultant in British Columbia for over 15 years, with multiple industries important to this province including forestry and mining, and has first-hand knowledge on the many environmental issues in BC.

Co-Founder and Former Executive Director
Liz DeMattia

Liz is an ecologist with more than 15 years experience conducting ecological research and developing environmental outreach for community-based conservation programs. Liz first began developing outreach programs for the Centre for Environmental Education at Duke University, where she developed projects for inner city youth, undergraduates and adult education. As Program Dean at the School for Field Studies, Liz managed the educational and research programs as well as developed environmental community outreach programs for five international research centres. While in BC, Liz worked as a university instructor at UVIC and VI and served as the Executive Director of Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society, which she co-founded. She recently moved back to the east coast but is continuing to lend her support and considerable knowledge to Nanaimo Science as a board member.

Former Board Member/President
Tod Gilbert

Tod is a mechanical engineer and President at an innovative local air compressor manufacturing company (VMAC). He loves to share his passion for science and technology with anyone who will listen. Tod is a certified Professional Engineer and completed his Master’s degree in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s University in 2005, where he also managed the Formula SAE race car team. In 2014, he completed his Master of Business Administration from Royal Roads University.

Former Board Member
Mel Sheng

Mel graduated from UBC in 1978 with a BSc., and has over 30 years of experience working for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as a Resource Restoration Biologist. During his career, Mel has worked with the Salmon Enhancement Branch providing biological support to hatcheries, public involvement groups and Community Economic Develop Program hatcheries. Mel has been responsible for identify, designing and constructing habitat restoration projects like fishways, spawning channels, side-channels and water storage facilities etc. in B.C. for the last 31 years. His area of responsibility is currently Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and the Central Coast of B.C. In the past, he has have also provide habitat restoration support to the Upper Fraser, Thompson-Okanagan and Yukon.

Former Board Member
Aaryn Kay

Aaryn has been engaged in environmental education and sustainability demonstration for more than a decade. As the Director of Community Outreach at Duke’s Centre for Environmental Education, she applied her strong foundation in ecology and education to environmental education programmatic development, green event implementation, and educational curricula design for teachers, K-12 students, graduate students, and volunteers. She has also taught sustainable best practices to hundreds of land managers and volunteers, a graduate-level course in environmental education, high school environmental science and biology courses, and community-wide sustainability programs. Aaryn is currently a grants specialist in Boulder, CO.

Former Board Member
Bill Pennell

Bill Pennell has a PhD in biological oceanography from McGill University and has had a 30 year teaching career in the areas of fisheries, aquaculture, and marine sciences. He has also been active in developing fisheries and aquaculture programs and research facilities in BC and in several tropical countries, and he has worked extensively with First Nations communities in BC. He now divides his time among work at VIU (Research Associate with the Centre for Shellfish Research), private consulting, and photography.

Former Board Member
Joe Cristiano

Joe has 25 years’ experience in the cooperative system, with his career being primarily with Coastal Community Credit Union, and primarily in marketing. As Chief Community and Marketing Officer he leads a team that delivers advertising and promotions, communications, product development, marketing research and analysis, and community engagement programs. He achieved his Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master of Business Administration in Montreal. He is very active in the credit union system, including both provincial and national committees, and has been involved in a variety of local community groups over the years. Joe is excited to bring his experience in marketing, business, leadership, and governance to help Nanaimo Science be as successful as possible.

Former Board Member
Allison Chang

Allison completed her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees at the University of Waterloo. She is currently practicing with FYidoctors in Nanaimo.

Hey Parents!

Nanaimo Science offers a wide range of activities aimed at children from infancy to Grade 7.  Check out our school break camps, Pro-D day camps and workshops, and Homeschool supports!