A dynamic team of core instructors and facilitators have been involved in this program over the years. There are also a number of guest speakers who are not pictured in this page but who are an integral part of this program.
Current Instructors and Staff
Ryan Hilperts (Co-Director of Redfish and Instructor)
(2009-Present) Ryan has been a Director of the Redfish School of Change since 2012. She is also a sessional lecturer and research associate at the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria . She teaches ecology, ecological restoration, and global food systems, and she researches the ways in which ecological restoration transforms both human and ecological communities. Her graduate work involved community engagement with the removal of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington State, focusing on the importance of fostering community conversations about ecological change. Ryan has been a workshop facilitator, sea kayak guide and marine naturalist, a long distance hiker, a mountaineering instructor, a repeat photographer, an english teacher, and a field ecology educator in Washington State, British Columbia, Alberta, Thailand, and Central America. She believes one key to transformative education is developing the ability to ask constructive critical questions not only of others, but of ourselves.
Nick Stanger (Co-Director of Redfish and Instructor)
(2015-Present) Nick has worked with the Redfish School of Change since 2015 in different capacities (both instructor and director). He currently is an assistant professor of environmental education at Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. He completed his Doctorate at the University of Victoria in 2014 and was a Social Sciences and Humanities Council Doctoral Fellow. The main focus of his doctoral research revolved around the learning that occurs from revisiting significant childhood places (www.transformativeplaces.com), and their lasting effects on our lives. His research uses an educationalist lens and participatory techniques to understand environmental sociology, ecological identity, transformative places, and Indigenous responses to ongoing processes of colonization. He pursues projects that utilize his unique background as an ecologist, conservationist, educator, and knowledge mobilizer, and look for ways to support participants and provide nuance and complexity to pressing issues. He aims to understand, mobilize, and help create space for Indigenous communities to tell their stories of resurgence, cultural adaptation, and sovereignty all while helping find pathways, protocol, and critical understandings amongst settler-colonial communities.
Lilian Howard (Instructor)
Lillian Howard is from the Mowachah-Muchalaht First Nation and is of Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw and Tlingit Ancestry. Ms. Howard works on contract with the Public Health Services Authority in Vancouver, BC. Lillian sits on Vancouver City Indigenous Peoples Advisory Committee and the Vancouver Police Department Indigenous Advisory Committee. She also sits on the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Indigenous Council. Ms. Howard also does contract work with Douglas College and sits on the Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Lillian is an Indigenous, Environmental and Social Justice advocate.
Elin Kelsey (Instructor)
(2019-Present) Elin Kelsey, PhD is a leading scholar and educator in the area of hope and environmental solutions and an award-winning author. Kelsey’s work focuses on the study of the reciprocal relationship between humans and the rest of nature. She is currently writing a book on environmental hope for Greystone Books that will be published in Fall 2020. Her influence can be seen in the hopeful, solutions-focus of her clients, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other powerful institutions where she has served as a visiting fellow including the Rachel Carson Center for the Environment and Society, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Stanford University in the Graduate School of Education. She is co-hosting an international gathering of academics focused on communicating climate change and hope at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich in July 2020. She co-created #OceanOptimism, a twitter campaign to crowd-source marine conservation solutions which has reached more than 100 million shares since it launched in 2014. As an Adjunct Faculty member of the University of Victoria School of Environmental Studies, she is consulting on the development of a solutions-oriented paradigm for educating environmental scientists and social scientists. Passionate about bringing science-based stories of hope and multi-species resilience to the public, Kelsey is a popular keynote speaker and media commentator. She is a feature writer and podcast host for Hakai Magazine and a best-selling children’s book author. She regularly gives public talks and leads environmental workshops with kindergarten to university students across North America and around the world. Her newest book for children, A Last Goodbye will be published in April 2020.
Joy Beauchamp (Communications Coordinator and Instructor)
(2018-Present) Joy has been enjoying the wonders of Redfish with her now 6 year old son, Otis, since he was 2. Otis and Joy had a habit of dropping in to visit Nick Stanger in various locations in the Salish Sea, as Joy and Nick are Otis’ parents. Along with coordinating the Redfish program, and co-teaching the leadership class with Nick, Joy runs a private practice as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She holds a Master’s is Environmental Education and Communication from Royal Roads University and is passionate about the interconnection between personal and environmental sustainability. She has given guest lecturers at Western Washington University, the University of Victoria and at Redfish. She formally joined the Redfish team to work as the communications coordinator in 2018. At various points in her life she has identified as a mountain climber, a world traveller, a certified energy advisor, a program coordinator for the BC government, and even a bicycle pedi-cab driver. She enjoys finding opportunities for authentic connection with people, immersing herself in nature and facilitating opportunities for Otis to develop a sense of wonder and love of the natural world.
(2008 to 2018) Brenda helped create Redfish in 2008-09 when she worked in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. She spent 18 years living in the Salish Sea and learning from its myriad beings, systems, and relationships. Academically trained in ethnobotany/ethnoecology she brought her passion for plants and the landscape they help shape and define to her role as a Redfish Instructor. Now living in the West Kootenay region in southeastern British Columbia, Brenda teaches at Selkirk College, co-manages a native plant seed and consulting company (KinSeed) and a non-profit environmental organization (Kootenay Native Plant Society), and maintains an ethnobotanical consultation company (Beckwith Ecologies). She surrounds herself with plants and helps bring their spirit and stories to others.
(2016-2018) Alexei Desmarais became involved with the Redfish School of Change as a Teaching Assistant when he was working on his Master’s of Environmental Education at Western Washington University. The next summer, after graduating, he jumped into an Instructor role, co-teaching a course that wove inquiries in environmental ethics with a place-based study of local salmon fisheries and salmon biology. Alexei has been driven by his commitment to working with others to cultivate resilient, compassionate communities. And he is curious about the power of field-based education to facilitate and make visible the relationships that are foundational to community: between one another and between human communities and the ecological communities on which we depend and with which we share these habitats. He is guided by his belief that we all have a role to play in this work of reconnection and regeneration. Alexei is an avid musician; he enjoys messing around on any stringed instrument he can get his hands on, though he tends to focus on Americana guitar and Bluegrass fiddle. And he especially love sharing music with others. He is also passionate about everything and anything outdoors, in particular trail running, mountain biking, and ski-mountaineering. Though, all things being equal, he’s just as happy curling up with a good book or spending a day out amongst the weeds in the garden.
(2016-2018) Joe came to Redfish as a teaching assistant in 2016, during his master’s studies in environmental education with North Cascades Institute andWestern Washington University. He works now as the Operations and Field Director for Redfish School of Change. A passionate reader of both landscape and literature, Joe has been a writer, farmer, mechanic, bicycle fabricator, pedicab driver, guide, gardener, and teacher. He has circumnavigated the United States on his bicycle and has lived and taught abroad in Mexico, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Joe’s focus now is on decolonization work, finding ways to be a naturalized, rather than invasive, species by connecting people with ecosystems through experiential education. He firmly believes that we must live like we’re going to stay awhile. Joe now lives and works in Bellingham, WA, the region of his birth.
(2018-Present) Vanessa was a student in the 2011 Redfish program, and those experiences exploring BC inspired her to move west. Her graduate work at the University of British Columbia, in partnership with St’át’imc First Nation and BC Hydro, focused on the effects of hydroelectric dams on wild salmon migrations. Her research interests have included the biology of at-risk bivalve populations, thermal behaviour of salmonids, and sockeye salmon population dynamics.
She has worked as an aquatic biologist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and as an environmental educator with the Stanley Park Ecology Society and the Vancouver Aquarium. Vanessa came back to Redfish as the program assistant in 2017, and co-taught a new course in fisheries and environmental ethics in 2018.
(2009 to 2013) Nadine founded the Redfish School of Change. Nadine is an organizer, facilitator, educator and community activist based in the West Kootenays of British Columbia. She serves as a councilor for the Village of New Denver, where she lives. She has designed and delivered education programs for a variety of youth and community-based organizations. The Redfish School of Change is a dream come true for Nadine: her Masters research in Environmental Education and Communication focused on the design of education from a youth perspective, which led to the development of this unique field school. Nadine has hope in the revolution of consciousness that she believes young people are leading.
(2009 to 2010) James is an Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria . He recently completed his PhD in Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. James does research in the fields of international political economy, social movement histories and futures, and contemporary philosophy. His publications include the book — co-authored with Ronnie Lipschutz — Regulation for the Rest of Us: Globalization, Governmentality, and Global Politics (Routledge, 2005). James is passionate about positive social change and has been involved in environmental and social justice advocacy efforts at local and global scales (from small grassroots organizations to the United Nations and back again).