Meet the HAT Team

McMinn Staff Pic 2

JillRobinsonJill Robinson, Executive Director, MSc

 Jill has a BSc in biology from St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia and went to Memorial University of Newfoundland for an MSc in seabird biology. Originally from Shanty Bay, Ontario, she has previously been involved in a multitude of wildlife research projects in many remote corners of the world. Jill studied seabirds in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and Newfoundland, monitored shorebirds in Churchill, Manitoba, studied sea turtles in Naples, Florida and collected data on forest biodiversity in tropical rainforests of Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Jill has also been heavily involved in stewardship and public outreach programs, having worked in environmental public education at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre in BC, Newfound Harbour Marine Institute in the Florida Keys, as well as in Ecuador. Before joining on at HAT, Jill worked for Raincoast Conservation Foundation and is a member of the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society. 

WendyWendy Tyrrell, Habitat Management Coordinator, BSc

Wendy is originally from California, holds a BSc in Ecology & Systematic Biology and has been working in the field of restoration and invasive plant management for more than 15 years. Wendy has worked as an ecologist for a local land trust developing and implementing restoration projects on covenanted lands and monitoring the efficacy of their invasive plant program. 

As part of HAT’s Land Protection team, Wendy leads the management of our protected lands including planning, assessing habitats and coordinating restoration projects. In addition, Wendy works in partnership with local schools doing habitat enhancement through our Green Spots Program

mushroom and me2

Paige Erickson-McGee, Stewardship Coordinator, BSc

Paige first got involved with HAT through a turtle. She later joined HAT as the Conservation Intern in 2012 and 2013 and continued to volunteer until 2014 when Paige became HAT’s Community & Development Coordinator. In January of 2015 Paige moved into the Stewardship Coordinator role leading programs for Species at Risk, Good Neighbours, and works with the Green Spots Program. 

Paige grew up on Shawnigan Lake exploring nature with her dogs. She completed her degree in Geography at the University of Victoria, as well as the Environmental Technologist diploma and Archeological Field Assistant certificate at Camosun College. Paige is a lead volunteer for the Haliburton Urban Biodiversity Enhancement and Restoration Project, sits on the board of the Victoria Natural History Society, and is an active member of the Native Plant Study Group. 

Barb von Sacken 2Barb von Sacken, Land Acquisition Coordinator, BA

Barb von Sacken has been with the HAT team as theLand Coordinator since the fall of 2015. After her work with the Ministry of Environment, Camosun College, and private consulting, she will be taking on HAT’s growing protected land negotiations along with covenant monitoring. 

As the Land Acquisition Coordinator, Barb works with public and private landowners to assist them in placing permanent protection on their lands through conservation covenants or acquisitions. In addition, Barb performs annual compliance monitoring on HAT’s covenanted properties.


Ashlea Veldhoen 2Ashlea Veldhoen, Community and Development Coordinator, B.Sc.

Ashlea is happy to have recently become a part of the Victoria community and H.A.T. family. With her roots in Ontario and extended family in B.C., she now enjoys calling Vancouver Island home. Through her post-secondary studies in Ecosystem Management at Fleming College and Environmental Science at Trent University in Ontario, Ashlea has gained a thorough understanding of humans as part of ecological systems and the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems through conservation of natural areas.

Ashlea looks forward to doing her part with H.A.T. to ensure resilient and sustainable ecological, social and economic systems - all linked by healthy ecosystems – are here for generations to come.  When she’s not busy with H.A.T. business, Ashlea loves birding on the Galloping Goose Trail and teaching new tricks to her dog Kiyo.  

 Principle Contractors

christianChristian Engelstoft, MSc, RPBio, Biologist

Christian has working with HAT to locate and help steward species at risk since 2004.  Christian is the Scientific Advisor to the Sharp-tailed Snake and Western Painted Turtle Recovery Teams. Christian provides an important scientific basis to HATs species at risk research and stewardship initiatives guiding surveys, providing training, and writing reports. His studies have been published in a number of journals. 



Kristiina Ovaska, PhD,  Biologist

Kristiina has a MSc from Acadia University, Nova Scotia, and a PhD from University Victoria. After completing two post-doctoral studies (with McGill University and University of British Columbia), she has worked as a consultant and independent researcher focusing on the conservation of amphibians, reptiles, slugs and snails, and other often overlooked life forms. She started working with HAT in 2008 in projects aimed towards protecting the endangered Western Painted Turtles and Blue-grey Taildropper slugs and their habitats. In addition to working in BC, Kristiina has conducted studies in the West Indies, Panama, and Ecuador. Kristiina is a co-chair of the COSEWIC (Committee of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) Amphibians & Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee and a former member of the Mollusc Specialist Subcommittee.


Michael Brinsmead, Bookkeeper

Michael has managed HAT's bookkeeping since 2007 through his bookkeeping business, Farhill Accounting. 

AliJones photo HAT

Ali Jones - HAT Bat Coordinator, BSc. 

Already well into Bat Season, Ali is working tirelessly to ensure that HAT's bat program is a success!

Ali has lived more than half her life on Southern Vancouver Island and has spend a lot of time exploring its native flora and fauna. She has her BSc in Biology from the University of Victoria and is interested in conservation biology, in particular that of wetland ecosystems. Wetlands are key habitat for bats, and Ali is excited to learn more about local bats as the Bat Stewardship Program Coordinator this year.

Summer Students

Jordana Website photo Jordana Herron, Land Protection Intern

Jordana grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but has been working seasonally in BC since 2009. The beauty and biodiversity of BC left such an impression on her that, when she decided to go back to school, Jordana chose the Environmental Technology program at Camosun College for it's focus on sustainability and field work. Jordana enjoys that Victoria has so many opportunities to volunteer with conservation activities, like checking up on the Western Red-backed salamanders at Goldstream park as she's pictured doing in the photo on the left. Jordanas says, "The Land Protection Intern position at HAT feels like the perfect fit and I hope it will lead to a career in 


Over the summer Jordana will assist both Barb von Sacken and Wendy Tyrell in coordinating restoration events  and completing annual conservation covenant compliance monitoring.   


Liam Guy, Conservation Intern 

Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Liam has always had a passion for the BC's natural surroundings. This inclination led Liam to enroll in Camosun College's Environmental Technology Program, where he will be graduating from in June, and tocontinue his education in the Fall of 2018 in UVic's Geography program. Time spent sailing around Vancouver Island as a youth and working at the Ucluelet Aquarium has developed a strong affinity for marine wildlife and conservation; Liam hopes to combine hiseducation, experience working at HAT, and passion for the outdoors to start a career in conservation






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