Our mission is to connect youth and families with nature and the outdoors, to raise awareness and appreciation for our natural world, and to foster a strong environmental ethic through community-based education and engagement.
Nature's Calling Environmental Education is dedicated to addressing and correcting 'nature deficit disorder' - a term developed by Richard Louv, and addressed in his seminal book, Last Child in the Woods, used to describe the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation. We strongly believe that environmental education and direct connections with nature will cultivate an understanding and awareness in youth that is vital for healthy children and, ultimately, a healthy world.
Located in the heart of Carolinian Canada, we live in a region that boasts the highest diversity of plants and animals in the country, a vast array of habitats and natural areas, nature trails and outdoor activities, and a community with a strong environmental ethic.
Our mandate is to:
- To provide educational and outreach activities to children and families to foster an appreciation of and respect for nature and the environment;
- To promote conservation and stewardship of our environment through outdoor learning and classroom programming;
- To engage youth and to help develop environmental leaders for a more sustainable future.
Board of Directors
Ed Dertinger, Chair
Raised on a tobacco farm outside LaSalette, Ed has recently retired from 32 years of teaching. He has a myriad of interests that range from adventure travel, to golfing, to motorcycling,to hiking. He is presently on the last section of hiking the entire Bruce Trail. Being connected to the natural world has always been a priority. Community involvement includes volunteering at the local school and the Delhi Tobacco and Heritage Museum, where he continues to assist local youth with their learning. Past commitments involve being a long term member of the Delhi Lions Club and a 10 year youth soccer coach for the Norfolk Soccer Club. Ed says that being involved with Nature's Calling as a director is a perfect marriage of love of nature and commitment to life-long learning.
Carmen Davis, Vice-Chair
As a busy mother of two and dutiful master of a Bichon Frise, Carmen spends most of her time in the classroom. When the school day ends you can find her outdoors running, walking, swimming, coaching soccer or reading the latest book pick from her book club Lit Chicks. She is a lover of both nature and the arts and has performed in various plays and musicals at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre and Simcoe Little Theatre. Carmen has been on the Board of Directors for Nature’s Calling since 2012, and enjoys volunteering her time face painting at their various festivals and events.
Robin DeCloet, Director
Robin joined the Board of Directors in February 2018.
She attended York University (Psychology & English); Fanshawe College (Developmental Service Work majoring in Sign Language); and Laurier University (History). She has more than 25 years of experience working directly with children throughout Norfolk County for the Children’s Aid Society, the Grand Erie Board of Education as an Interpreter specializing in Augmentative Facilitation, and for Long Point Region Conservation Authority as the Heritage Programmer/ Curator.
Robin’s work as an educator has always extended beyond the classroom realizing that children learn through problem-solving, direct observation, relationships and their natural and manmade surroundings experiencing hands-on activity. Robin believes it is important to increase awareness of environmental problems and instill an environmental ethic in students to foster the skills and strategies for solving those problems to deal with environmental issues we are facing not only in the world but also those of our own community.
On behalf of NCEE, she also organizes the Shinin’ Times Mountain Man Rendezvous in September.
Frank Yalaksa, Director
Frank has a background in natural resources. He worked as a fish and wildlife technician for 10 years at many different projects, including wild turkey trap and transfer, sea lamprey control, tundra swan trapping, fish studies and creation of wildlife corridors along drainage ditches to name a few. Frank is a Norfolk county native and continues to live in and enjoy the area with his young family. He is an avid angler and hunter and enjoys passing his knowledge of the outdoors to his kids and others by volunteering at fishing and wildlife events. Frank is employed by the Ministry of Transportation in highway patrol. He has been a director with NCEE since 2013.
Marie Poss, Director
Marie is an outdoor enthusiast! She brings her love of the outdoors and her passion for education to the organization. Marie works as a professor of Early Childhood Education at Fanshawe College (Simcoe Campus) and enjoys teaching future ECE’s the value of nature based play. Marie was born and raised in Norfolk County and enjoys exploring the wonders of the Carolinian region through running, hiking, and biking. As a busy mother of two young children, in the summer she can be found playing in her backyard mud pit and digging for worms!
Jennifer Schooley, Director
Jennifer has been working for Haldimand-Norfolk REACH, a local Children's Mental Health Agency, for the past 15 years in a variety of roles including parent education at the Ontario Early Years Centre, bullying and suicide prevention and youth engagement. She is also a Chapter Leader for the local 'Parents for Children's Mental Health' family support group in Norfolk, and travels for PCMH to speak publicly about being a parent of a child with mental health challenges. She grew up on a local apple farm and currently lives on a small farm with her 3 children and spends a lot of time outside with them. She has seen, firsthand, the effect that nature has on herself and her children, and is a strong believer in nature and it's positive effects on our mental health.
Karla Falk, Director
With an education background in ecology (B.Sc , Guelph; M.Sc , Trent) and working numerous field biology jobs over the years, Karla has a strong passion for being outside—enjoying and conserving nature. Her husband’s job at Bird Studies Canada brought them to the Long Point area in 2011, when Karla chose to stay at home to raise their two young girls. Observing her own children learn and explore the world combined with her background as a biologist led to an interest in the importance of nature-exposure in child development, which brought her to the NCEE board. When she is not exploring the woods with her kids, you can find her gardening, cooking, practicing yoga, and organizing the Port Rowan Farmers’ Market.
Lisa VanDenEeckhout, Director
Lisa has recently reconnected with nature after tackling her fear of snakes back in 2014. She has since participated in snake and turtle surveys, and outreach events with the Long Point Basin Land Trust and can be found in her spare time fishing, trail walking, canoeing and exploring the Carolinian region with her husband and son. She brings with her a wealth of outreach experience as a recruitment lead with the Ministry of Community, Safety and Correctional Services. Lisa feels passionately about children getting outdoors and connecting them with nature through play, and educating them about the incredible biodiversity they encounter and can protect in our area - experiences to take with them into their adult lives.
Bernie Solymár, Executive Director and Treasurer
Bernie is the co-founder of Nature’s Calling Environmental Education. He is a life-long naturalist and trained biologist. He worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for 12 years before founding his own company EarthTramper Consulting Inc., which specialized in working with landowners on stewardship issues, species at risk conservation and habitat enhancement. He is currently the Executive Director for the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario.
Bernie has a B.Sc. Honours (Agriculture) from the University of Guelph (1985) and a M.Sc. in Biology from Brock University (1988). He is an avid gardener, eco-traveller, photographer and nature hike leader, and lives with his family in Pt. Ryerse.
Bernie’s passion for working with children began with an 18 year stint as a soccer coach. For the last 8 years he has focused on implementing the mission of NCEE by coordinating it’s programs, raising funds, and spreading the word about the organization’s work through social media and presentations.
Colleen Dale, Forest School Educator
Colleen is responsible for coordinating and delivering our Forest Kindergarten (launched September 2017) where children between the ages of 3 and 6 and while learn and play in Nature’s classroom – the woods and fields of our outdoor centre.
Colleen is the co-founder of Nature’s Calling and was the organization’s Nature Educator until 2014, when she took a leave of absence to start a family. She has her Early Childhood Educators certificate from Fanshawe College, and a diploma in Ecosystem Management from Sir Sandford Fleming College. She has been teaching and involved in environmental education for almost 20 years. She began working for Ontario Parks as a Natural Heritage Educator and the Long Point Region Conservation Authority as an Outdoor Educator. She has developed Ontario curriculum based modules for experiential nature and environmental classes - both for the classroom and outdoors.
Rhonda Sage, Forest School and Nature Educator
Rhonda is one of our educators for our Forest School and coordinates and delivers our Forest Homeschool.
Rhonda holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture: Environmental Biology and specialized in Aquatic Biology from the University of Guelph. She also holds certification in the Master Naturalist Program from Lakehead University and is part of the Art of Mentoring movement in Ontario, trained in the Coyote Mentoring philosophy and outdoor nature connection.
Rhonda is passionate in mentoring our youth and connecting them to nature, to themselves and as a community. Rhonda believes that through understanding the world around us and develop a sense of place, the youth will innately develop respect, confidence, self-esteem, questioning and innovation the every changing and unpredictable future.
In her free time, Rhonda enjoys bushcraft, survival skills, hiking, camping, learning more about the natural world and homesteading.
Lauren Dehens, Nature Educator
Lauren is responsible for delivery of all our indoor and outdoor school programming, and our Eco-Explorer Daycamp. Additionally she organizes camps on P.A. Days and during March Break, and other family outdoor events.
Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Biology from Western University, and a Master’s Degree with a focus on Marine Conservation and Environmental Education from Dalhousie University. In September 2018 Lauren began working towards her Masters of Education degree at Western University
Lauren has a range of experience working with children, students, and families, from facilitating nature play programming with Evergreen, teaching biology with Dalhousie University’s Department of Biology, volunteering as a Science Educator with the charitable organization Let’s Talk Science, as well as through her own private tutoring practice within Norfolk County.
Lauren is passionate about environmental conservation, teaching, and making a difference. She strongly believes that through hands-on, inquiry-based learning we can deepen the connection between youth and the natural world, and that by spreading environmental awareness, we can inspire and excite youth into becoming positive environmental stewards.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys baking and crafting, being active in the outdoors, and spending time with her loved ones on her family farm in Norfolk County.
Leanne Gauthier-Helmer, Environmental Educator
Leanne Gauthier-Helmer is a naturalist, photographer and mother of two. She can often be seen on the many trail systems and in the numerous wetlands that are found in and around Norfolk County, where she is constantly building on her knowledge of the natural world around us. Leanne is a part-time Environmental Educator with Nature’s Calling, leading interpretive hikes and delivering programming for the Lessons in a Backpack program.
Jan and John Everett, Educators
Several years ago Jan wrote a children's book about a turtle trying to cross the road called Never Give Up for her husband’s birthday. The book became a way of promoting and raising funds for the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project , which has saved the lives of countless turtles and snakes. Jan and husband John took the project one step forward and now deliver an educational and fun presentation in which she does a reading of the book, followed by a demonstration by John on how to safely carry turtles across the road. Jan and John enjoy occasionally volunteering their time to the NCEE for events such as presentations in local provincial and private parks, libraries and summer camps.
- Butterfly and Dragonfly Festival, 2012
- New organization formed to provide nature-based education for local children and families.
For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 519-410-7376
Tim Hagen’s Photo Gallery
Reprinted with the kind permission of Tim Hagen. To learn more about Tim or order his book, please see longpointphotography.com.
The Snapper is a newsletter produced by Nature’s Calling Environmental Education (formerly Kids for Turtles and When Nature Calls). You can download high-quality printable versions here.