Michael Keefer, MSc, PAg
PRESIDENT, LEAD VISIONARY
Michael is a visionary leader with expertise in a broad range of fields that include plant ecology, ecological restoration, ethnoecology, the management of large and complex projects, communication, curriculum development, and others. A key theme in his career has been bridging knowledge sources and perspectives together to come up with positive solutions to complex environmental and social challenges. He is known widely as a top expert in the fields of ecological restoration, ethnoecology and native plant horticulture.
As an Adjunct Professor at Royal Roads University he helped to create the Growing Our Futures native plant horticulture training program, a curriculum designed for First Nations learners. Michael has the start-up of businesses that include: Keefer Ecological Services, Twin Sisters Native Plants Nursery, Tipi Mountain Native Plants and Tipi Mountain Eco-Cultural Services. As a volunteer, Michael was part of the start-up of the Columbia Basin Environmental Educators Network, led the growth of the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER) BC to being SER Western Canada when he was Chair, and has sat on a handful of other volunteer boards as a director.
In his recreational time, Michael is an avid skier, canoer, sailor, hiker, food gardener, naturalist and wood butcher. He is frequently a presenter at conferences and loves to share his perspectives with diverse audiences to build understanding on how humans can revitalize their connections to the world's ecosystems to solve complex environmental problems.
Jessica Lowey, MSc, PAg
ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICE & PERMITTING LEAD
Jessica is an environmental scientist with an extensive background in environmental consulting. She completed her Bachelor of Science (honours) in 2012 with an undergraduate thesis in Soil Science and a certificate in Geomatics, and has since completed her Master of Science in Environmental Practice through Royal Roads University. Jessica received two awards for her Master's research paper titled "Promoting Ecological Restoration of Degraded Mine Soils Using MSW Compost" which can be found here. Jessica is also the East Kootenay Regional Director for the Pacific Regional Society for Soil Science and is working to bring more soils courses to the area.
Previously, Jessica has worked in the oil and gas and forestry industries, performing a variety of environmental assessments and is well-versed in vegetation and soil identification and sampling, wildlife surveys, as well as construction monitoring. At KES, Jessica has been instrumental in managing and completing a number of projects including environmental management plans, socio-economic reports, feasibility studies, invasive plant management, recovery of the endangered whitebark pine, and soil and terrain mapping.
Jessica enjoys all aspects of the Kootenay lifestyle - camping, climbing, mountain biking, whitewater paddling, backcountry skiing and fly fishing.
Tom Braumandl, BScF, RPF
Tom is a forest ecologist with almost 40 years of experience in forest management planning, research and monitoring, quality assurance and audit services. His expertise lies in vegetation ecology, biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification (BEC) and mapping, landform interpretation, soil survey and mapping, natural disturbance ecology and ecological restoration. Tom is a recognized provincial BEC expert, having led the provincial government forest ecology program in the 8-million hectare Nelson Forest Region for a couple of decades. At KES, Tom has been busy conducting rare plant surveys, terrestrial and sensitive ecosystem mapping, vegetation monitoring and soil mapping.
Tom is a keen mountain biker and skier and loves wandering amongst the rough fescue of his backyard searching for the latest wildflower that has popped up.
Steve Ross, PhD, RPBio
Steve is a wildlife ecologist with 20 years of experience in wildlife and biodiversity research and management. Steve has expertise in spatial ecology, habitat modelling, GIS and wildlife survey. He has applied his skills to large mammal reintroductions, species recovery planning, habitat and corridor restoration and landscape scale monitoring and management, working with government, as a consultant and with industry. Steve’s past research has included first ecological studies of Pallas’s cat and the Endangered Arabian tahr, the studies have kick started new conservation and management initiatives on the species.
Steve has a PhD in wildlife ecology from the University of Bristol, a Masters in Forest ecology from the University of Edinburgh and a Bsc in Environmental Bioscience from the University of Strathclyde. He is member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, Cat Specialist and Caprinae Specialist Groups. Steve spends his spare time mountain biking, hiking and enjoys spending time outdoors with the family.
Richard Hilton, CRSP, NCSO
SENIOR INDUSTRIAL HYGIENIST
Richard is a highly qualified and experienced Health, Safety, and Environment professional with a strong track record of establishing and implementing outstanding Health and Safety programs for large, complex organizations with multiple locations and numerous employees. Richard has extensive experience and knowledge with fall protection, confined space, and respirator equipment checks. His background also includes reducing worker exposure to hazardous materials, hazard and risk assessments, and writing exposure control plans. He enjoys teaching various courses such as mobile equipment operations, confined space entry, fall protection, transportation of dangerous goods (TDG), and workplace hazardous material information system (WHMIS).
Richard holds three designations in safety; CRSP (Canadian Registered Safety Professional), NCSO (National Construction Safety Officer), and MSO (Manufacturing Safety Officer - not practicing). When he isn't working passionately to improve worker health and safety, he can be found outdoors enjoying numerous activities such as skiing, mountain biking, swimming, and camping.
Emma Cooke, BSc
Emma is a junior environmental scientist with a background in conservation biology and GIS. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta in 2020. One semester of her degree was completed at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå, Sweden in 2019. Emma has previously worked in wildlife research and the not-for-profit sector. Through these experiences, she has gained skills in plant and wildlife identification, sampling, data collection and analysis, stakeholder engagement, and environmental education.
In her free time, Emma enjoys mountain biking, skiing, hiking, camping, and letting nature inspire her watercolour painting projects.
Baylie Sjodin, MA
Baylie joined the team with a Master’s degree in Environmental Practice. Throughout her degree, she was involved in a variety of ecosystem-based planning and sustainable management. Her previous experience also includes a diverse field background in both the wildfire sector and fisheries. She spent several months working with a volunteer-based hatchery and learning a great deal about BC salmon recovery efforts. Through her previous experiences, she has gained skills in wildlife and plant conservation, fire management, and sustainable development. Baylie is highly skilled in project organization and is a strategic planner skilled in multitasking and prioritizing work tasks to better meet client needs. Paired with her background in psychology, Baylie is confident in her ability to actively seek environmentally friendly options and work with individuals to achieve them.
In her spare time, Baylie can be found enjoying the outdoors hiking, camping, canoeing, backcountry skiing fishing, hunting, rock climbing, or creating new woodworking projects.
Mike Kurucz, BBA
Mike is a highly skilled business and administration coordinator with over five years’ experience working in financial and accounting environments. Mike completed his Bachelors of Business Administration at the University of Regina in 2008. From there he worked at Island Savings Credit Union, providing lending advice, operational support and accounting administration.
As an employee at KES, Mike coordinates and maintains the Occupational Health & Safety Plan; assists with purchasing, accounts payable and receivable, payroll and communications; and provides human resources support. Mike has been a member of an Occupational Health and Safety committee for over four years. He has maintained the highest level of performance standards within a diverse range of occupations. His education and experiences make him a uniquely qualified individual.
Mikayla Davis, BSc
Mikayla is a junior environmental scientist with a background in freshwater biology and environmental studies. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of Victoria in 2021. She is currently working on her co-op program with us, and is very excited to be gaining experience. Through her undergraduate experiences, Mikayla gained skills in water quality sampling, wildlife and plant identification and sampling, data collection and analysis, and environmental education and community engagement.
In her spare time, Mikayla enjoys camping, hiking, gardening, skiing, and enjoying time outdoors with her dog, Milo.
William Popov, M.Eng, EIT
William is an environmental engineer-in-training who received his M.Eng from McGill University in Environmental Engineering and his B.S. from MIT in Civil & Environmental Engineering. William has previous experience from positions in stormwater engineering, limnological field work, and environmental risk & decision science. His graduate work involved training in water quality management, contaminated site remediation, and environmental policy.
Outside of working hours, William enjoys the outdoors through skiing of all types, mountain biking, and hiking. He maintains active involvement in his local community through trail work, tutoring, and the Rossland community garden.
Maryn has a background in administration and transcription. After working in the medical field for a couple years, she has recently made a switch to office management. She also instructs spin and barre classes at a local fitness studio.
When she’s not at work or instructing classes, you can find her road cycling, bike packing, or running in the trails with her dogs.