I was born and raised in southern Ontario, Canada. From a young age, I quickly found a love of nature and exploring. We spent our summers camping throughout Ontario and sometimes further, exploring Canada and the United States. I remember collecting tadpoles, insects, leaves and anything else that I would find. Throughout the years, we would regularly visit the local conservation areas near home. My passion for birds started at the age of 5, when my mom received a bird field guide for her birthday. I remember taking the book to bed with me every night and learning the birds through the photographs and reading the text. My favourite bird in the book was the Blue-gray Tanager, which through a rather over-exposed photo, appeared an inconceivable light blue.
|Me and Oscar, Mountsberg Conservation Area, 2007|
Another interest of mine that started at a young age was a growing passion for rainforests and tropical environments and animals. I remember completing various projects in my school years about rainforests, deforestation, creating games, and focusing interest on animals found in those areas. Little did I know that this dream to live and work in the tropics would be a reality for me. In 2007, after completing my undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology, I traveled to Peru with a friend to volunteer at a biodiversity station, deep in the heart of the western Amazon. I immediately fell in love - this trip was a dream come true. Incredible species including capybaras, Black Hawk-Eagles, Red-and-green Macaws and a plethora of other wildlife opened my eyes to the world of tourism in Latin America, particularly in biologically-diverse and environmentally sensitive areas.
I furthered my education later that year by studying Eco-tourism Management. While keeping an eye out for various opportunities in Central and South America, I came across a posting for a volunteer position to work with Harpy Eagles in the forests of Central Panama. While a 6-month volunteer commitment was difficult to manage up until this point, I realized that the experience gained would be worth it. So, in late 2008, I arrived in Gamboa, Panama, and worked for 7 months on the Peregrine Fund's Harpy Eagle Conservation Project, a long-term project studying these magnificent and beautiful birds. With my background and passion in working with raptors, and a continuously growing passion for the Neotropics, working on this project was the best decision I have made to date.
|Amazonian Ecuador, 2010|