Cheryl hojnowski, Ph.d.

executive director 

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As Executive Director, Cheryl works closely with the Biosphere Institute’s team and partners to design, implement, and evaluate our human-wildlife coexistence and climate change programs. She is inspired not only by the wildlife and landscapes of the Canadian Rockies, but also by the talent and dedication of the Bow Valley conservation community.

Prior to joining the Biosphere Institute, Cheryl spent six years living and working in eastern Russia. She organized salmon conservation programs on the Kamchatka Peninsula, studied protected area management as a Fulbright Fellow, and worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society as a grant writer and project manager, collaborating with local communities to promote coexistence between people, Amur tigers, and Far Eastern leopards. Cheryl later completed her Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research brought her to Kananaskis Country, where she studied how grizzly bears and other large mammals adjust their behaviour in high recreation areas.

Cheryl is a committed swimmer and hiker, and loves exploring the mountains on foot. She speaks Russian and Spanish.

Cheryl envisions a Bow Valley that achieves its potential as a global conservation model – a place where scientists, educators, managers, and community members come together to protect the ecological values of our mountain home.



bruce gleig

program associate 


Since joining the team in 2002, Bruce has been fortunate to be involved many of the Biosphere Institute’s research, education and outreach programs. Monitoring trends in the social, demographic, economic and environmental health of the Bow Valley is a key focus of his work. Since 2003 he has been the lead author of the Canmore Community Monitoring Report and has assisted the Town of Banff with community indicators and community social assessments. To help further our shared stewardship goals in the Bow Valley, Bruce has also served on a wide array of committees and groups including the MD of Bighorn’s Municipal Development Plan Steering Committee, Town of Canmore’s Human Use Management Review, Lafarge’s Low Carbon Fuels Project Advisory Committee and the Town of Canmore’s Environmental Advisory Review Committee. 

Bruce graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (Geography). From a work term placement with Agriculture Canada, he transitioned into 8 years with the federal government as a GIS and Land Resource Technician. His work primarily related to the impacts of agriculture on the environment, with a strong focus on how climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are affected by land use policy and management. 

In his spare time Bruce enjoys getting outside with his family: exploring the mountains by skiing, biking and running rivers. In the community he’s been an active parent volunteer with the Canmore Nordic Ski Club and Rundle Mountain Cycling Club and a trail crew leader with the Canmore Trail Alliance. 

Bruce is inspired to work and volunteer on projects that help to engage the community in stewardship, reduce human-wildlife conflict and decrease our ecological footprint. As popularity of this region continues to grow, he hopes that we will continue to develop solutions that maintain the magnificent landscape, wildlife, and community character that make the Bow Valley such a special place.



nick de ruyter

wildsmart program director 


Nick manages all aspects of the WildSmart program and enjoys delivering educational programming to diverse groups of residents and visitors, including students from daycare to university, new Canadians, local businesses and staff, youth and seniors’ groups, professional associations, national/international tour groups and the general public.

Nick loves to teach and worked for many years as a downhill ski racing coach, university lecturer in human physiology and biomechanics, and math and physics tutor. Prior to joining the Biosphere Institute, Nick spent eight years working as a commercial pilot in the Arctic and enjoying the vast beauty of Canada's North. After hanging up his "wings," he continued to work up north managing remote mining camps. It was here where he first became involved in human-wildlife conflict issues, as a part of the Wildlife Response Teams responding to interactions between workers and wildlife (mostly grizzly and polar bears). Nick also designed and implemented orientation and training programs to teach new staff and visitors how to coexist with wildlife while working and living at mining camps.

In his free time, Nick likes to be outdoors playing golf, skiing, mountain biking and hiking, although these days he gets most of his exercise chasing after his two young children. Nick graduated with an Honours bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and was a fully certified Commercial Pilot.

Originally from the Netherlands, Nick grew up living in different countries and was able to see some amazing places. His goal for the Bow Valley is for humans and wildlife to successfully share this unique landscape.



jodi conuel

program coordinator


Jodi leads the Shift Program. In this role, she uses a variety of community engagement tools to empower Bow Valley residents to take meaningful action on climate change. Her responsibilities span from evaluation of local renewable energy potential, to organization of participatory workshops, to authoring a monthly newsletter with tips about how to reduce your carbon footprint. Jodi is motivated by a long-standing interest in climate change issues, sustainable living and human-wildlife conflict resolution.

Prior to joining the Biosphere Institute, Jodi’s career focused on human-wildlife conflict, mitigating the environmental impacts of development projects, and habitat enhancement. Jodi has also worked in education, providing onsite wildlife education and supporting science and technology departments within schools. She has several years of experience working in management in both the environmental and hospitality sectors.

Outside of her work at the Biosphere Institute, Jodi serves as Secretary and Treasurer on the Board of the Canmore Bee and Pollinator Society, promoting pollinator and bee habitat health in the Bow Valley. Jodi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology with an emphasis in Marine Zoology from The University of Wales, Bangor. She has also received her Red Seal Cook Qualification and enjoys cooking up a storm when she is not in her garden or exploring the great outdoors with her favourite pets and people.

Jodi envisions a Bow Valley with solar panels on every rooftop!



adam mertens

program coordinator - education


Adam leads development of the Biosphere Institute’s environmental education strategy and delivers programming to children of all ages and to adults. He also oversees the Biosphere’s communication platforms, including social media and website design, to ensure the delivery of relevant and captivating content to Bow Valley residents.

Prior to joining the Biosphere Institute, Adam worked as an environmental educator and communicator with Alberta Parks in Kananaskis Country, primarily focusing on youth watershed education programs. He also interned with the Alberta Parks Ecology Department on a long-term wildlife monitoring project, conducting field work, managing data and coordinating volunteers.

In addition to his work at the Biosphere Institute, Adam is an ACMG Assistant Hiking Guide. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Resource Systems from the University of British Columbia.

Adam is motivated by the collective admiration that the Bow Valley community has for this landscape and the recreational opportunities afforded by it. He seeks to tap into this passion in order to foster the development of life-long environmental stewards.



karen messenger

program associate


Since 2014, Karen has been helping the Biosphere Institute move towards its goal of preserving the ecological integrity of this beautiful valley she calls home. Karen focuses on the development and delivery of educational programming. Living, working and playing in the Bow Valley for more than a decade has allowed her to form lasting connections that are integral to her position.  

A recent highlight of Karen’s work has been the development, adaption and delivery of the Biosphere Institute’s Bison EduKit. Together with her co-workers and with input from local Indigenous leaders, teaching staff and students, Karen helped bring to life the greater story of bison and their ecological, cultural and historical roles, as well as their recent reintroduction to Banff National Park. She is proud to present the Bison EduKit to classrooms and organizations throughout the Bow Valley. Previously, Karen had a lead role in the development, adaption and delivery of the Cougar EduKit, as well as updating other EduKits including bear, wolf, and elk.

Karen holds bachelor’s degrees in Outdoor Recreation, Natural Science and Education from Lakehead University. She has worked for six years as a Natural Heritage Interpreter for Banff National Park, and has also taught for the Canadian Rockies Public School Board and at Sedbergh School, Q.C.

In addition to her work at the Biosphere Institute, Karen is a passionate Nordic Ski instructor and coach. She is proud to be a part of the Spirit North team, using skiing as a vehicle to promote active lifestyles in local Indigenous communities, as well as coaching Nordic skiing and biathlon at SuperCamp in Silver Star and Sovereign Lake, B.C. She enjoys volunteering with Fast and Female, an organization aimed at keeping young girls in sport, as well as helping out with Food and Friends community dinners.

Karen can often be found Nordic skiing, racing loppets, canoeing, hiking, running, swimming in Alpine lakes, rollerskiing, adventuring and just generally appreciating nature. She strives to keep this incredible mountain landscape and the amazing wildlife that inhabit it intact for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Karen is on maternity leave until Fall 2020. For inquiries related to education programs, please contact Adam Mertens at


board of directors

Jill Jamieson - Chair
Life and Leadership Coach

Mark Storie - Vice-Chair
Kananaskis Regional Director, Alberta Parks

Vicki Perkins - Secretary
Environmental Education Specialist

Kristy Davison - Treasurer
Communications Specialist

Karen Hanna - Director

Dene Cooper - Director
Reeve, Municipal District of Bighorn

John Borrowman - Director
Mayor, Town of Canmore

Chip Olver - Director
Councillor, Town of Banff

Bill Hunt - Director
Resource Conservation Manager, Banff National Park