Meet Our Staff


Chessi Miltner

Executive Director   Email

Born and raised on Galiano, Chessi feels privileged to now work to protect and steward its lands and waters. He holds a MSc in Geography and a BA&Sc in Environment from McGill University. His research has focused on a range of topics, from waste management technologies in urban environments, to traditional agroforestry practices in the Amazonian jungles of Peru. He is an avid kayaker, and has introduced tourists and locals alike to the beauty and ecological diversity of the Salish Sea for over 15 years as a kayak tour guide. When not at the Millard Learning Centre, Chessi is likely to be found outside exploring Galiano’s wild places.


Ken Stauffer

Bookkeeper   Email


 Jennifer Stackhouse

Operations Coordinator   Email

Jennifer moved to Galiano Island in 2018, and fell in love with the beauty, nature and the community.  She brings a background of over 20 years in business management and human resources experience and has a passion for organization and efficiency.  Outside of her position at the GCA you will find Jen teaching yoga or in her gardens!


Cedana Bourne

Agriculture and Nursery Coordinator   Email

You can find Cedana with her hands in the soil at the Native Plant Nursery and the Millard Learning Centre’s Forest Garden. Cedana is in her element when saving seeds and nurturing plants through each stage of development in the cycle of plant life. Cedana is an herbalist who grows or wildcrafts the plants for the formulas she creates for her apothecary. Cedana is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who appreciates a delicious, locally grown, whole foods meal.  She is a passionate preserver and loves to incorporate wild foods into all kinds of tasty creations from baking to bubbly brews to fermented concoctions. 


Reed Osler (on leave)

Education Coordinator   Email

Reed Osler has been sharing her passion for parks and wild places with the public in a professional capacity for over 15 years. She studied herbalism at Pacific Rim College and is a certified Community Herbalist who is especially passionate about native plants, their edibility and their medicinal uses. She also loves music, theatre and art and incorporates these creative pursuits into her programs with children, youth and adults alike.


Emily Francis

Acting Education Coordinator   Email

Emily earned a BSc in Environmental Science from Royal Roads University. She has worked with a diversity of environmental entities in the clean technology industry, in social-environmental non-profits and in academic communities. As a scientist and visual artist, she combines her technical knowledge and creative approach to teach about unique pacific-northwest ecosystems and to explore the complex relationships between people and the environment.


Adam Huggins

Restoration Coordinator   Email

Adam holds a BSc in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, as well as a Diploma in the Restoration of Natural Systems.  He is primarily diurnal, operating at the intersection of ecological restoration, regenerative agriculture, and conservation.  Over the past decade, he has worked from central California to the north coast of BC on plant nurseries, restoration projects, permaculture farms, and remote field studies.  Currently, he maintains the GCA’s restoration projects and assists the Agriculture and Nursery Coordinator in maintaining the Forest Garden and Native Plant Nursery.  When the sun goes down, he retires to his den, where he produces the Future Ecologies podcast and reads books about plants.


Ria Okuda

Environmental Educator   Email

Ria was born and raised on Galiano; she then went across the country to Montreal where she studied at McGill University. After graduating with a BSc in Biology, Ria’s love for travel took her to many parts of the world where she gained experience in different cultures and field studies. She has now returned to beautiful Galiano to raise her family and share her passion and enthusiasm for education, conservation and Galiano’s community.


Frieda Weinert

Environmental Educator   Email

Frieda has a nursing degree from Germany and a BSc in Forestry from the University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf (Germany). Frieda first came to Galiano Island for an internship with the GCA in 2016 and fell in love with the island and its community. The following year, Frieda returned to Galiano to conduct her thesis research on bat populations on the island, and was employed with the GCA as a bat specialist to conduct a conservation project on the endangered Little Brown Myotis bat species. Frieda moved to Galiano indefinitely in 2017, and is excited to share her passion for and knowledge of the natural environment in her role as an educator for the GCA.


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A note from our 2020 Summer Student Interns (from left to right)

Carleen Paltzat, Environmental Restoration Technician

My name is Carleen and I grew up east of Edmonton and moved to Prince George 5 years ago to start a degree majoring in environmental science and minoring in biology. I just graduated this April and had never heard of Galiano island but it sounded like paradise and a great place to spend the summer after graduation doing some work I really enjoy. I am one of the restoration technicians so I spend most of my time outside and do something different almost every day which I love doing. This job also allows me to constantly learn and ask lots of questions which is great. Galiano is a magical place, with so many beautiful places to visit and the Ocean so close, I will never forget it. After this summer I will be moving back to Northern BC to start a new adventure and hopefully continue to work in environmental restoration.

Elias de Valle, Environmental Marine Technician (Cetaceans)

I naturally gravitated towards working on the Cetacean project at the Galiano Conservancy as it was just so well-fitted with my educational background. At the University of Victoria, I study Geography and Anthropology. In the Geography part of my degree, I mainly focus on resource management topics, such as sustainable fisheries, and parks and protected areas. However, as my concentration is in Coastal Studies, I have become quite well versed in coastal conservation, and more specifically conservation of cetaceans. 

I find that these topics pair quite well with the Anthropology side of my degree, where most of my interest lies in local archaeology, and the exploration of past human uses of this landscape that we call our home. I believe that present day science-based conservation initiatives have a lot to learn from the archaeological record, and the epistemologies and ontologies of those who have occupied this land since time immemorial. By studying Anthropology and Geography I have been provided with a holistic and critical lens through which to view the Cetacean Conservation project. Thus, for me this work is about more than just communicating science and marine mammal regulations to the public. It’s also about looking at potential flaws of conservation by assessing where/how science and regulations are founded, and who has their voices heard and who doesn’t. I believe that by understanding and acting on these issues, conservation can become even more powerful. You’ll see what I mean if you read my latest article in “The Active Page”, where I discuss Pacific herring and shifting baselines. 

Sylvie , Environmental Restoration Technician

My name is Sylvie, I’m in my final year at the University of Victoria, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Geography. I’m passionate about both community and ecological resilience. This focus is exactly what led me to the Conservancy. 

As one of the restoration technicians, I’m lucky to dip my toes into many different projects from brochure design to assisting in wetland restoration. Every day is different which is one of my favorite things about this position! The GCA has created a really wonderful environment where there is space and encouragement for each individual to bring their own creative ideas to projects.

Galiano has been an incredible place to live so far and I’m so grateful for this opportunity. There are so many beautiful places to visit and I have really enjoyed interacting with other residents through markets and volunteer events at the conservancy. 

In the future I plan to finish my degree and later pursue my masters, after that I would love to continue working in the realm of environmental NGOs on the Westcoast.

Sarah Stelte, Environmental Marine Technician (Rockfish)

My name is Sarah Stelte and I am the new Rockfish Marine Technician! I earned my first degree in Anthropology and Psychology in Alberta. After this I went travelling, and it was during my travels that I realized I wanted to pursue my love for conservation of the environment, which brought me to Victoria. I attended the University of Victoria for a second degree in Environmental Studies and Geography. During my studies I was able to partake in multiple field schools, focusing mainly on the marine environment, which developed my passion even further. During a field school and previous employment, they both brought me to the Galiano Conservancy, where I was introduced to the different projects and goals that the conservancy is working towards. Along with this I received my first presentation on their rockfish project, which I found very inspiring. Little did I know that two years after seeing this presentation, it would be me that is giving the presentations on rockfish!

I am working on the Rockfish Conservation project which uses community-based education, camera monitoring, and structured recreational fisher interviews to promote Rockfish Conservation Area (RCAs) awareness, monitor recreational fisher compliance, and assess public knowledge of RCAs. I am very lucky to be apart of this amazing project as I am learning so much about rockfish, conservation, the importance of public awareness, and how these are all connected. My favorite part about working for the Galiano Conservancy so far is the different experiences I get to take part in, from rockfish research, to learning about wildlife cameras, social media development, and educating the public, all while being able to work outside immersed in this beautiful environment. At the moment what my future holds for me is uncertain, but as the conservancy has allowed me to further develop my skillset and passion for conservation, I now have the tools to move forward and continue to help our environment!

Sofia Silverman, Permaculture Technician

Hi my name is Sofia, I am in my fifth and final year at the University of Victoria studying physical geography and environmental studies, and have recently just finished my second permaculture design course. For the last 3 years I have been fortunate enough to work around the globe on several amazingly creative permaculture sites where I have been able to learn from many inspiring teachers. They have encouraged me to continue learning and pursue what I am passionate about and what aspect of permaculture I really love, this is what inspired me to apply for the permaculture technician position here at the GCA. So far, my time at the GCA has consisted of native plant care, working in the food forest, harvesting beautiful herbs to make tea, and meeting amazing people. Every day I find myself learning something new either by observing the plants around me or my co-workers and employers. As you can assume living on Galiano has also been magical, I am so thankful for all the wonderful people I have met, and the places I have seen. Once I finish my work term here on Galiano I will be finishing the last two courses in my degree and then hopefully pursuing future education related to food security and sovereignty. I would also like to continue traveling around the world and meet other people in the permaculture field who share my passion for living sustainably and regeneratively.


See our past student interns here.