Celebrating our Volunteers!

We love our volunteers year round, but as April 23-29 is National Volunteer Week, we want to give them some extra special recognition! Did you know that we have 8 volunteers who help us out at Terra Nova Nature School every week, and that together they contribute over 30 hours per week to our programs!  Read on to find out more about this committed, enthusiastic team!

Shantelle scouted out TNNS while she was still living with her family in France, then joined us in our very first year by volunteering two mornings per week in the Eagles class.  Shantelle, who holds a degree in Environmental Studies, decided to return to school last year to complete her Early Childhood Education certificate.  She now teaches our Saturday morning Parent & Tot classes; teaches in the summer with Eating Wise Program, and continues to volunteer 8-10 hours weekly! If Shantelle could be a plant, she would choose to be a red ripe strawberry, creeping and crawling along the earth and soaking up the sunshine!

Erin is just 13 years old, but she has been helping after school with the Beyond4Walls classes for the past 2 years!  She describes herself as a bit of a ‘Mama Bear’, as she is very protective of her 2 younger siblings.  She has learned that children respond really well “to being outside instead of being hunched over a table all day”.  Her favourite new experience was learning to make homemade pasta at our family cooking day.

Arianna also volunteers in the Beyond4Walls class.  She is vegan, and feels passionately about speaking and taking action on behalf of all animals.  A new food that she just tried at TNNS was the ribbons of seaweed they ate in poke bowls.  Arianna is fluent in Greek, having lived their for 9 years.  She loves being outside, and says “it feels therapeutic.”

“Grandpa Barry”, as he is affectionately known, has volunteered two afternoons a week with the Owls class over the past two years.  Barry has a very soft spot for TNNS, since he camped out at Thompson Community Centre in the first round of registration so that his granddaughters Rylan, and now Ashlyn, could become ‘Eagles’.  Barry is retired, but previously was a geographer, teaching at the post-secondary level in colleges throughout British Columbia.  He is most surprised by the children’s adaptability, “how they can take something presented to them and make it work for their own way of learning.”  Bet you’d never guess that Barry is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan!

Jess helps out weekly in the Eagles program.  She recently moved to Vancouver from Toronto, where she worked in ECE and then completed her Bachelor of Education degree.  She loves to read, spend time with her puppy, and go camping.  Through her time at Nature School, Jess has noticed that children really come to know the physical spaces and have more meaningful play experiences in them.  Jess has driven across Canada, not just once, but twice!

Zoleikha was born in the desert in South Algeria, so you can understand why, when she moved to Canada, she didn’t like living in Fort McMurray because it was too cold!  Zoleikha returns frequently to Algeria, where she worked as an Early Childhood Educator before settling in Vancouver. She has discovered that she LOVES working outside and observing how much the children benefit from being outdoors.  Although she didn’t help in her family garden as a child, she recalls learning to knit, crochet, and weave from her mother, with whom she was very close.  If Zoleikha could be any animal, she would choose to be a bird, with the freedom to fly anywhere at all!

Ayato also studied and worked as an Early Childhood Educator in his birth country, Japan.  Although he doesn’t like sushi, he has discovered he loves to eat Greek and Italian food – trying lamb, lasagna, and calamari for the first time last week!  He also loves Granville Island and downtown Vancouver.  His hobby is drawing, especially landscapes, and he has drawn many images of the North Shore mountains, cityscapes, and the sea bus.   Ayato has recently become a volunteer in the Eagles class.


Chloe occasionally joins the Eagles & Owls classes on school professional days, but she has discovered from volunteering every Saturday in the Parent & Tot classes that she really loves toddlers!  She is seen here with her grandparents, whom the Eagles would often come across while out walking in the park.  Chloe loves being outdoors, especially on the water, whether windsurfing, sailing, or white water kayaking.  Whenever parents ask about being inside for Parent & Tot class, she proudly says “nope, we are staying out in the lovely pouring rain today!”

Many thanks as well to Jasmine, Hannah, and Jadyn, also Grade 10 students, who volunteer whenever their busy high school schedules allow.

On behalf of Terra Nova Nature School and Thompson Community Association, we have put together a little gift bag of ‘green’ treats for each of our volunteers.  We invite you to also share your own verbal appreciation directly with the volunteers in your child’s program!  Thank You!