Ryan Smith

Senior Environmental Planner, Shell Canada Limited


Ryan began his career in environmental consulting in 2006 working on a wide variety of environmental planning and regulatory approval projects spanning numerous sectors including resource extraction, municipal infrastructure, and transportation infrastructure. In 2012, Ryan joined Shell Canada Limited’s Environmental & Regulatory Group helping to manage and coordinate environmental programs for key project components including: wildlife monitoring, wetland monitoring, and groundwater monitoring. Ryan works with multi-disciplinary teams to steer projects through the environmental regulatory hurdles as well as improve project environmental performance. Ryan represents Shell on the Foothills Stream Crossing Program (FSCP) which promotes the best management practices and proactive measures to construct and maintain watercourse crossings, and collaborates with the Parkland Airshed Management Zone (PAMZ) Communications Committee helping PAMZ promote air quality education and initiatives to the wider community. Ryan is a professional Agrologist and soil scientist with a M.Sc. degree in Geography from the University of Calgary. Ryan also has B.Sc. degrees in both Earth Science and Archaeology from the University of Calgary. Ryan is passionate about science and science literacy and education.

Jason Unger

Executive Director and General Counsel of the Environmental Law Centre (ELC)

Jason Unger is the Executive Director and General Counsel of the Environmental Law Centre (ELC), an Alberta based charity focused on legal education and environmental and natural resources law reform. Jason's practice has focused on issues of water law, legal tools for conservation on private lands, environmental assessment law, species at risk and pollution prevention. Prior to joining the ELC Jason worked in private practice at firms in Edmonton and Calgary. His private practice included experience before the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Alberta Court of Appeal, and the Natural Resources Conservation Board. Jason also sits as a Board member on the Alberta Water Council, a multi-stakeholder organization that provides advice and input on provincial water policy.

Rob Simieritsch

Regional Resource Manager, South Saskatchewan Region, Alberta Environment and Parks

Rob Simieritsch is the Regional Resource Manager with Operations Division for Alberta Environment and Parks. Under Resource Management, Rob oversees the Fisheries, Wildlife, Water, Air and other programs in southern Alberta. Rob has been with the Department for 13 years and served in several different functions in that time including water approvals, planning/engagement, and flood recovery. Rob is a Professional Biologist with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologist and has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Calgary. Outside of work, Rob loves to spend time in the Rockies or on the Prairie hiking, canoeing, camping and fishing with his family.

Craig Harding

Director of Conservation Science and Planning, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)

Craig is the Director of Conservation Science and Planning for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in the Alberta Region. He works across the province to integrate multiscale planning, into the broader areas that NCC works and at a property scale. Although the major focus of his role is planning in implementation, he also works to integrate collaborative science and research initiatives into NCC's activities to improve our understanding of what species use our properties, how we can adapt our management to benefit those species, and building new relationships to further this work.

Prior to joining NCC, Craig completed his BSc from the University of Western Ontario and went on to complete his MSc at the University of Cape Town with the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology.

Kimberly Pearson

Nature Legacy Ecosystem Scientist, Waterton Lakes National Park

Kimberly Pearson is Waterton Lakes National Park's Nature Legacy Ecosystem Scientist. Much of her work is focused on collaborative, landscape-scale conservation and supporting Indigenous-led conservation and restoration. She manages the post-Kenow wildfire science program and has led the successful restoration of northern leopard frogs at Waterton. Kim has been involved in the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association since 2009. She collaborated for ten years on the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Waterton Park Front Project and has consulted on various projects for organizations such as the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society.

Connie Van der Byl

Academic Director, Mount Royal University

Connie Van der Byl is the Academic Director of Mount Royal University's Institute for Environmental Sustainability (IES) and an Associate Professor in the Bissett School of Business, teaching courses in business strategy, environmental management and sustainable development. Connie holds a PhD in Energy Management and Sustainable Development, as well as an MBA from the Haskayne School of Business and a BA (Honours) in Economics from the University of Waterloo. She acquired over ten years of experience in various business roles with NOVA Corporation and subsequently TransCanada Pipelines before embarking on a PhD. Dr. Van der Byl's research interests focus on energy organizations as well as parks and protected areas and their strategic responses to sustainability issues.