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Our People2018-12-07T10:55:35+00:00

Staff

Justin Thompson
Justin ThompsonExecutive Director

Justin spent much of his childhood and youth exploring the foothills of southern Alberta, including his family’s ranchland west of Pincher Creek. This clearly influenced his decision to pursue a B.Sc. in Biology and a Masters in Public Administration, with an eye to influencing a change in environmental practices.

Justin got to know SALTS when he started looking for options to preserve wildlife habitat and watersheds on his own land. Justin, his family, and several of their neighbours ended up doing conservation easements with SALTS. His positive experience with SALTS and his passion for preserving Alberta’s natural landscapes led to him working full time on private land conservation.

Prior to SALTS, Justin had a varied career in wildlife conservation, renewable energy development, and his own home-building business focused on energy efficient homes. He also continues to run a small cow/calf operation on his land in partnership with a local rancher. This combination of experiences is helpful in his role as he directs and implements the work of the organization.

Justin spends much of his free time with his wife and two young boys on their land in the foothills or playing in the mountains.

Mike Gibeau
Mike GibeauConservation Manager

As Stewardship Coordinator for SALTS, Mike plays a number of roles including the point person working with our existing easement holders but also helping to implement new easements. Mike grew up on a farm near Strathmore and following a stint as a rodeo cowboy spent 33 years as a warden and biologist with Parks Canada. In this role he developed extensive experience in the ecology and management of large carnivores including research on coyotes, wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears. In recent years, much of his time was spent coordinating grizzly bear conservation as the Carnivore Specialist for the Mountain National Parks.

Mike has an MSc in Wildlife Biology and a PhD in Conservation Biology. In addition to his role at SALTS he is also an Adjunct Professor in the Geography Department at the University of Calgary and advises graduate students. Mike has a keen interest in interdisciplinary problem solving, the social context of conservation, and the links between science and policy.

In his free time Mike is an avid hunter, angler, enjoys traveling with his wife and two grown children, and helps his brother with seeding and harvest each year.

Rylee Hewitt
Rylee HewittStewardship Manager

Rylee was born and raised on the Rafter T Ranch in southeast Alberta. She was one of many in the Osadczuk clan and she quickly learned the importance of family, legacy and a pecking order.

Rylee holds a diploma in Renewable Resource Management from Lethbridge College and a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Environmental Studies from the University of Lethbridge. Rylee started in the environmental field several years ago working as a wildlife biologist throughout western Canada and abroad in South Africa. More recently, she was involved in environmental consulting in the natural resource industry. Rylee brings to SALTS five years of experience in conservation in southwest Alberta from her time with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Rylee has always valued SALTS reputation as a trustworthy partner for those in both the agricultural and conservation communities.

Rylee’s husband, Lyle, is a farrier and along with their young son, they have a commercial black Angus cow/calf operation in the southern Porcupine Hills. In Rylee’s spare time you can find her always with her family – helping neighbours, working on their ranch or team roping.

Berry Urban
Berry UrbanOffice Manager

Berry has been in management roles for more than 30 years in different industries. She also owned her own business in the Netherlands. She has brought her extensive skills to the operational management of SALTS.

The overwhelming beauty and openness of the Alberta Foothills and majestic Rocky Mountain in the background gave her the impetus to apply for the job at SALTS. In this position, she feels pleased to be contributing to the important conservation efforts of this beautiful and ecologically important landscape.

She is inspired by all the interesting people she has met through SALTS. The ranching life, although new to her, has touched her heart and made her a believer in the need to preserve working agricultural landscapes for future generations.

Her other interests include outdoor sports with her family, especially when they pack their tent and enjoy the outdoor living.

Board of Directors

Kelly Hall
Kelly HallPresident and Director

Aspirations of veterinary medicine led Kelly to college and then to Southern Alberta. Her focus changed when a man, the family farm, and rural life in Alberta’s foothills became an option. In 1985, Kelly and her husband Glen acquired the 10,000 acre Bar None South ranch in the Porcupine Hills and managed it for 26 years. Work with numerous partners deepened their understanding of healthy landscapes. In 2008, their work received the Alberta Beef Producers Environmental Stewardship Award and the Commercial Cattlemen of the Year.

Kelly was elected to the Livingstone Range School Division in 1997 and served in a wide variety of roles over the following 16 years. An understanding of governance, policy, and serving for the greater good were the gifts attained during her tenure.   She has been committed to serving the community of Stavely and has held numerous voluntary Board positions for the last 30 years.

The opportunity to serve on the SALTS Board was timely. Kelly believes organisations such as SALTS are key to the preservation of landscapes directly associated with ecological health, and increasing the awareness around the role these landscapes play in the production of food for Albertans.

Time with family is most treasured, especially when it involves being at Timber Ridge, the Hall family ranch west of Nanton. Continuous learning and finding teaching moments are a key focus of Kelly’s time and stewardship is her daily practice.

John Cross
John CrossPast-President & Director

John is the steward of the A7 Ranche, officially the oldest cattle ranch in Canada still in the hands of the original family (his grandfather, A.E. Cross, was one of the “Big Four” founders of the Calgary Stampede).

He uses holistic resource management in the management of his ranche. This means a cyclical method of planning and monitoring towards a three-part, holistic goal: succeeding every year in landscape health, human well-being, and financial profitability.

John has a strong commitment to preserving working ranches in Western Canada.

Mac Blades
Mac BladesDirector

Mac is a rancher on the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. He is the third generation and there are two more generations on the ranch today. He is hopeful that this way of life can continue and has spent years trying to find ways to preserve lands for ranching families.

He spent 16 years on the Municipal District of Ranchland Council. During that time, he saw all the pending threats that the landscape was facing. To support the preservation of the working landscapes, he has been on many committees and involved in many organisations.

Mac believes that SALTS is one of the ways for landowners to protect grasslands and preserve them for the future.

Jolayne Davidson Gardner
Jolayne Davidson GardnerDirector

Jolayne lives on a fifth generation ranch on the Eastern Slopes of Alberta, with her husband Cam, two children, six dogs, and six cats, including a three-legged house cat named Trey. In addition to being a rancher and a mom, she has been certified fundraising professional for nearly 20 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Calgary focusing on Western Canadian History and an MA in Philanthropy and Development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

SALTS is important to her because she believes that this generation must protect the remaining tracts of open ranch land that provide essential ecological goods and services to our urban counterparts. As stewards of ranch land Jolayne feels we are not simply ranchers in the challenging business of agriculture, but guardians of lands that are important to wildlife, clean water, and carbon storage.

She is inspired by the ranching families who came before her, surviving and thriving in the harshest of circumstances yet still able to see the beauty of it all. As part of her days, she enjoys photography, travel, and watching her kids figure out their place in the vastness of the foothills they call home.

Sheila Harvie
Sheila HarvieDirector

Raised on a 3rd generation cattle ranch near Priddis, Alberta, Sheila developed a passion for nature and conservation. In 2008, after travelling abroad and pursuing a career in holistic health, she decided to build Chimney Rock Wellness Retreat on the part of the ranch. Here she could offer her clients a first-class corporate team building & health retreat where they could come to relax, rejuvenate, take in the serenity of nature and learn about land stewardship.

In her spare time, you can find Sheila riding or hiking the Porcupine Hills, helping on friend or family ranches, teaching local charity yoga classes, travelling foreign countries and most recently exploring from a birds-eye view after completing a private pilots license last summer.
Conservation and sustainable ecology have been a priority for Sheila and her family, and she looks forward to the opportunity to connect further, learn, contribute and educate through joining the SALTS team.

David Gray
David GrayDirector

David currently hosts CBC’s top-rated morning show, the Calgary Eyeopener, providing Calgarians their morning news with a teaspoon of wit and a drop of attitude.

David brings nearly three decades of experience as a journalist, having covered stories around the world. Raised in Calgary, David has been a TV reporter, documentary maker, and host on CBC Newsworld. He was a travelling journalist for many years with CBC Venture, and has won a variety of awards for his work, including gold medals at the New York Festival of Festivals for best international documentary.

David has had a strong connection with Alberta’s natural landscapes since his youth and early career involving environmental education. He believes in SALTS’ vision to protect Alberta’s unfragmented landscapes to preserve the role these lands play both ecologically and in supporting the rich history and cultural value of Alberta’s Eastern Slopes.

In his spare time, he plays with local band, Sweet Potato. David and his wife, Kim, have two children.

Dave Guichon
Dave GuichonDirector

Dave is a senior partner with Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP in Calgary. He has practised corporate/commercial law for over 35 years and has extensive experience in corporate governance, finance and property law.

Dave is a fourth-generation Albertan whose family has been involved in farming and ranching since the early 1900’s. He has a strong belief in the importance of conserving the productive and aesthetic integrity of Alberta’s ranchlands.

Craig Smith
Craig SmithDirector

Craig is a 4th generation rancher. He Graduated from the University of Alberta with a BA (History) in 1980 and went on to do graduate studies in Natural Resource Management at the University of Calgary.

Craig operates a cow/calf operation on the Waterton River near Hill Spring, Alberta, where he lives with his wife and their five children. He was Former President, Mid-Rivers Agricultural Society and former chairman, Prairie Crocus Ranching Coalition, and is currently Director, United Irrigation District (UID), and Director, Alberta Irrigation Projects Association (AIPA). He is also a very active community member.

Craig has been a strong supporter of SALTS’ efforts for over a decade and often talks about how much he enjoys the people who are involved in SALTS.

Todd Snodgrass
Todd SnodgrassDirector

Todd is the manager of the Pekisko Creek Ranch near Longview, Alberta. He has an Agriculture Production Diploma from the Lethbridge Community College. Throughout his 30 year career in cattle industry, he has developed a deep respect for the landscapes and the importance of effective and dedicated stewardship. During his tenure as Manager at the historic OH Ranch, he received the Alberta Beef Producer’s Environmental Stewardship Award.

He believes that SALTS is vital tool for landowners that have an interest in preserving southern Alberta rangelands.

He is inspired mostly by his family, but also by the thought that we can always be helping the health of these rangelands. Family, good horses, good cattle and healthy rangeland. For Todd, that’s life!

Dave Fowles
Dave FowlesDirector

Dave is a lawyer who spent the last several years as a business consultant. He has experience in corporate/commercial law, litigation and has wide-ranging experience in corporate governance and finance. Dave is currently working with a large Calgary company in Aboriginal relations and policy. He has a BA in Political Science/Constitutional Law, a BComm in Finance and an LLB from the University of Alberta.

Dave is a strong supporter and active with SALTS since it was founded. He rejoins the Board after previously serving as a Director from 2009-2016. Through his involvement with SALTS and the friendships he has made, Dave has developed a deep commitment to preserving working ranches in Western Canada as a method to limit fragmentation of landscapes and keep the landscape healthy. Dave believes that by protecting and sustaining healthy rangeland, we can also preserve our Western heritage, values and culture for future generations to enjoy.

In his spare time, Dave is an avid horseman and outdoorsman and rarely misses an opportunity to fly fish when he can.

Shannon Matthyssen
Shannon MatthyssenTreasurer/Director

Shannon’s bio will be available soon.