Our staff have different backgrounds but each has specialized training and post-secondary education in fields that include animal health, biology, geography, and environmental sciences. All of our staff share a common link - not only do they have a passion for wildlife, but they have dedicated many hours volunteering in the field and they continue to work on professional development. Even our staff alumni go on to do amazing things!
Kari Marks, BSc, MSc
Kari grew up in the small community of Saltair on Vancouver Island and graduated from the University of Victoria (BSc, Geography). After travelling and working in Canada, Asia and Australia, she went on to complete an MSc at the University of Guelph. Her thesis focused on tropical wetland ecology and her field research was conducted in Sulawesi, Indonesia. She then worked for 3 years as an environmental consultant based out of Hanoi, Vietnam for clients including a Swedish engineering firm, WWF and the Canadian Embassy. During this period her son was born. Upon return to Canada, she and her family spent time travelling around BC before moving to Stockholm, Sweden. During her 3 years in Sweden she took intensive language training, travelled to many parts of Europe, brought her daughter into the world, and continued to work part-time as an international environmental consultant on projects including national oil spill contingency plans for the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. Following this, Kari and her family again returned to Canada and landed in Saanich. Kari worked for 9 years as the Manager of the Institute for Coastal and Ocean Research at UVic before becoming Wild ARC Manager in June 2011. Kari maintains a passion for the natural environment and the variety of life that is found in all parts of the world.
Heather Schmitt, BA, MES
Heather grew up in North Saanich and graduated from the University of Victoria in 2006 with a degree in Philosophy and Environmental Studies, with a minor in English. She went on to earn a Master of Environmental Studies degree from Queen's University in 2008. Her area of study was place-based environmental politics, a topic that suited her passion for life on the West Coast. Heather's interest in animal welfare and wildlife rehabilitation is long-standing – she volunteered at Wild ARC shortly after the centre first opened its doors as part of her high school career preparation program. After graduating from Queen's, Heather worked for two years at Toronto Wildlife Centre, staffing their busy Wildlife Hotline and working with members of the public to get help for sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals. Much as she enjoyed her time back East, the lure of the Island was strong. She moved back to Victoria in June 2011, just in time to participate in the Wild ARC summer internship program. Heather joined Wild ARC's staff team as Assistant Manager in February 2012.
Christina Carrières, RVT, CWR
Senior Wildlife Rehabilitator
Christina's career with Wild ARC began as a volunteer participating in the 2005 Summer Internship Program, and she quickly became a part-time rehabilitator in 2006 to complement her studies - a Double Major in Biology and Environmental Studies (UVic). In 2008, Christina moved into a full-time role and has been Wild ARC’s Senior Wildlife Rehabilitator since 2009. She also continues to work part-time as an AHT at the Juan De Fuca Veterinary Clinic since 2008. Prior to her move to BC, she graduated from the College de Sherbrooke, QC in 2003 with an Animal Health Technologist degree and gained experience working with wildlife at the Nouveau Parc Aquarium de Quebec, training seals, polar bears and a walrus. Christina continues her professional learning by attending multiple wildlife conferences (NWRA, IWRC, WRNBC, WSC, MMS) and by taking training workshops such as the Oiled Wildlife First Responders Course, Oil Spill Response Tri-State Bird Rescue, Marine Mammal Naturalist Training, Noah’s Wish Disaster Response Training, IWRC Basic and Advanced Courses, and Chemical Immobilization of Animals. Christina also volunteers actively as board member of the Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of BC and Rocky Point Bird Observatory, and serves as a committee member of Oiled Wildlife Society of BC. She somehow also finds time to volunteer with Vets for Pets (veterinary services for low income families) and was a member of the Cecilia Ravine Advisory Committee (environmental restoration) for the city of Victoria in 2009-2010. For her tremendous efforts for wildlife, Christina was a WRNBC Bursary Award Recipient in 2008 and was awarded a BC SPCA Staff Excellence Award in 2012.
Vanessa Williams, BSc, RVT
Vanessa was born and raised on Vancouver Island, and started volunteering at Wild ARC in 2005. She began studying biology at the University of Victoria and was an intern at Wild ARC during the summer of 2009. This internship inspired her to continue working with wildlife and further training at other rehabilitation centers. In 2010, she completed an internship at Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley where she worked specialized species including black bear cubs. Following completion of her Bachelors degree from the UVic, she enrolled in the Animal Health Technology program at Thompson Rivers University and graduated with honors in 2013. She worked with Wildlife Rescue Association of BC in summer 2012, and joined Wild ARC as a following graduation, and now is a full-time Wildlife Rehabilitator. She has completed the IWRC Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Certificate and hopes to continue learning in the field.
Katie Reynolds, RVT
Katie’s passion for wildlife began when she was very young, growing up in the country in northern Alberta, spending most of her time outside in the fields and forests. Her parents and grandfather are avid naturalists, inspiring Katie to understand the natural environment. She gained a deeper appreciation for wildlife when she started volunteering at Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society while attending University of Calgary, studying Zoology. She became a CWRS staff member and discovered she wanted to make wildlife rehabilitation a life-long career. To achieve this, Katie started her Animal Health Technologist degree at Olds College while continuing to work at both CWRS and Medicine River Wildlife Center in northern Alberta as the Animal Care Coordinator. After graduation, she worked with exotic animals to enhance her knowledge of avian and small mammal medicine. To enhance her triage and emergency response skills, she also worked as an ER tech at Western Veterinary Specialist and Emergency Center. Katie then trained as veterinary surgical nurse in both orthopedics and oncology and was on her way to becoming certified in this speciality, but then realized it was too far from her passion, working with wildlife. Katie worked as an RVT in Nelson BC, gaining more experience with anesthesia and was a member of Jaltemba Animal Rescue in Mexico. All of this experience brought her closer to the goal of focusing on wildlife rehabilitation, which was achieved by joining Wild ARC in spring 2013. She has completed the IWRC Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Certificate since joining the Wild ARC team, and is eager to continue her education in this field.
Marguerite Sans, BSc, RVT
Marguerite developed a love for nature, growing up surrounded by animals on an acreage in Langley, BC. She followed her passion for biology while studying at the University of British Columbia. Starting in 2005, Marguerite volunteered at the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rehabilitation and Mountain View Conservation Society which cemented her desire to work with wildlife. Following graduation in 2006 with a degree in Conservation Biology, she worked with endangered exotic and native species at Mountain View. Her work included training and care of lemurs, marmosets, wild cats and an Indian Rhino to name a few, but by far her greatest passion was aiding in the recovery of the Vancouver Island Marmot population. As head keeper for the endangered marmots for 4 years she attended Recovery Team meetings and felt privileged to join the team on several marmot releases back to their native habitat. In 2010, pursuing a desire to develop veterinary skills, Marguerite entered the Animal Health Technology program at Douglas College. During her studies she returned to the Wildlife Rescue as a part-time rehabilitator and assisted in bird banding with the Vancouver Avian Research Centre. A move to Edmonton in 2012 gave her the opportunity to gain experience at an emergency and specialty veterinary hospital as a triage and critical care nurse. Marguerite has since moved to Vancouver Island to be closer to family. She was excited to return to wildlife rehabilitation by joining Wild ARC in September 2014. Marguerite is eager to pursue and expand her education in wildlife care with courses offered by IWRC.
Samantha Webb, BSc, RVT
Samantha's love for animals was sparked when she was 4 years old, assisting in the birth of a dairy calf on a local farm in her hometown of Fort Erie, Ontario. Her love for farm animals grew throughout her years in 4-H. Samantha became involved in various other animal organizations, where she gained experience with birds of prey and beluga whales. She graduated from Northern College's Veterinary Technology and Wildlife Rehabilitation program, and did her placement on a South African game reserve where her knowledge and love for elephans, rhinos, and other African wildlife flourished. She then went on to get her Bachelors of Science degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, majoring in Animal Behaviour, Ecology, and COnservation and minoring in Anthrozoology. While at Canisius, Samantha was part of their marine mammal research team, as well as Canisius College's Ambassadors for Conservation, which involved teaching school children about nature. Upon graduation from Canisius, she spent the summer working as a seasonal wildlife rehabilitator in Grant's Pass, Oregon, where she rehabilitated a variety of raptors, songbirds, and baby mammals, and was also resopnsible for the veterinary care of residents such as bear, wolves, and cougars. Samantha is Wild ARC's newest rehabilitator, and is eager to be part of such a great team helping local BC wildlife!
Wildlife Rehabilitator (Casual)
Wallis Moore Reid
Wildlife Rehabilitator (Casual)
Wallis began her career with wildlife as a volunteer for the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC. In 2006, after joining the team at WRA as summer staff, she quickly realized her passion for rehabilitating wildlife could lead to a long and fulfilling relationship with the field. Wallis completed all offered International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council courses and continued to gain indispensable, practical experience caring for wildlife. In 2010, her curiosity lead her to travel across the United States in search of a more broad perspective on rehabilitation practices. The journey spanned over two seasons in which Wallis volunteered for several organisations, such as the Wildlife Center of Virginia and Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. In that time, she also completed an internship at International Bird Rescue Los Angeles, where her fascination for aquatic birds, especially pollution-affected individuals, was able to develop into skill she could bring back to BC. In spring 2013, Wallis was added to Wild ARC’s team of casual rehabilitators. Her interest in wildlife extends as a volunteer for the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program and Hummingbird Monitoring Network, and as a committee member of the Oiled Wildlife Society of BC.
Robin Owsiacki, BSc
Junior Wildlife Rehabilitator (Casual)
Robin is a born and raised Vancouver Islander, and has been a part of the Wild ARC team since 2014. Her passion for learning about all creatures great and small began at a young age, when she used her spare time to write reports on her favourite animals, which she would then present to her family. In 2015, she completed a practicum at Wild ARC and the following year was hired as a Junior Wildlife Rehabilitator where she has been able to continue learning about the exciting field of animal rehabilitation. With a Bachelor of Science degree from UVic completed, she has her sights set on applying to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon.
Junior Wildlife Rehabilitator (Casual)
Sara Dubois, PhD, RPBio
BC SPCA Chief Scientific Officer & Senior Manager, Scientific Programs (more info)
As manager of Wild ARC from 2004-2008, Sara continues to provide top-level oversight to the facility, but works at the BC SPCA Provincial Office in Vancouver to direct province-wide welfare science operations, education and advocacy projects. Her area of expertise is in wildlife welfare and human dimensions, but her role has been expanded to develop relationships with academia to benefit welfare science programs, including animals in research. She has a Biology B.Sc., Animal Science M.Sc. and an Animal Science Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia’s Animal Welfare Program. Sara has worked in a variety of roles with federal and provincial wildlife agencies, and non-profit organizations and is a Registered Professional Biologist.
Melanie Gordon, BSc, RVT (on leave until April 2017)
Melanie grew up in Victoria and graduated from the University of Victoria in 2005 with a BSc in Biology. During the summer of 2000 she volunteered at Wild ARC and four years later participated in Wild ARC’s summer internship program. Since her experience as an intern, Melanie has progressed her knowledge of wild animal care by completing the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Basic Skills and Wound Management courses as well as completing an oil spill training certificate with Tri-State Bird Rescue. Travelling abroad to Costa Rica, Thailand, Greece, Australia, and South Africa has provided Melanie with several opportunities to volunteer with various wild animal care organizations. Melanie joined the Wild ARC staff team in the summer of 2008 and continued in summer 2009 as a casual rehabilitator while enrolled in the Thompson Rivers University Animal Health Technology program in Kamloops, BC. Melanie received the Wildlife Rehabilitators Network of BC Bursary Award in early 2010, then graduated with top honours from Thompson Rivers in June and returned to Wild ARC as a full-time year-round staff member that same summer. To finish off her busy 2010 year Melanie took part in Vet Nurses in the Wild in South Africa. After a busy 2011 working at Wild ARC, Melanie went on maternity leave in April 2012 and returned as a part-time wildlife rehabilitator in Sept 2013. Departing in Feb 2014 for her second maternity leave, Melanie again returned to Wild ARC in Sept 2015 for 6 months before going on her third maternity leave in Feb 2016 - let's just say she likes to keep busy!