The Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association (WBRA) is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors and part-time contract staff.
We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of individuals involved in operating the WBRA. As you will see in their brief biographies below each individual on the WBRA board and staff brings with them unique skills and backgrounds making for a diverse and well-rounded team.
WBRA directors serve a two-year term and are elected during our Annual General Meeting, which is open to the public. If you have an interest in taking on an active volunteer role on our Board of Directors, please contact us.
Kim Pearson [Chair]
Kim has been a WBRA board member since 2009 and Chair since 2017. A highlight was coordinating a Digital Storytelling workshop in which seven WBR residents recorded unique insights on what makes this a special place. She works as Parks Canada’s Nature Legacy Ecosystem Scientist in Waterton Lakes National Park, coordinating landscape-scale and collaborative programs. Kim spent ten years contributing to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Waterton Park Front Project and has also supported organizations such as the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society, Alberta Fish and Wildlife, and Canadian Wildlife Service. She and her family have deep roots in southwestern Alberta and are proud to be contributing residents of the Waterton area.
Cam Francis [Vice Chair]
Cam Francis graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Business. Following University, Cam returned to his grandfather’s ranch in the Glenwood area where he lives and ranches with his wife Nikki and their three children. Cam has been very active in the community over the last number of years serving on a variety of committees and boards including nine years with Cardston County, five of which he was the county reeve.
Bill Dolan [Secretary]
Bill Dolan joined the WBR in 1990 when he moved to the area as the Chief Park Warden of Waterton Lakes National Park. Bill has a keen interest in landscape-level conservation and has been a long-serving member of many ecosystem-level partnerships, including the Crown Managers Partnership and the Miistakis Institute for the Rockies. In 2009, Bill left Parks Canada to work as the Land and Resource Management Coordinator for Alberta Environment and Parks in southern Alberta. Bill is now retired and lives east of Waterton Lakes in the Boundary Creek area with his wife Debbie.
Julia Palmer [Treasurer]
Julia Palmer is a fourth-generation rancher who lives and works in the Twin Butte area. In 2007 she completed her BA in Religion at Reed College. Following graduation, she began working with her parents on the family ranch. While maintaining a commercial herd of beef cattle, the Palmer family is also committed to pursuing innovative ways of improving the range and riparian health of their land.
Jeff Bectell [Director and Carnivores and Communities Program Coordinator]
Jeff and his wife Liz, ranch with their children south of Cardston, on land that has always been ‘home’. He was chair of the WBRA from 2010 to 2017. Currently, he is on the WBRA Board of Directors and is also the Coordinator of the Carnivores and Communities Program (CACP). He enjoys working with others in the community to ensure that generations to come can enjoy this area that he loves so much.
Andrea Morehouse [Director and Carnivores and Communities Program Science Lead]
Andrea Morehouse is an independent scientist who works on a variety of conservation and management issues related to large carnivores in multi-use landscapes. She moved to Alberta in 2007 and completed both an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in ecology at the University of Alberta. Through her research, she strives to effectively engage scientists, managers, and community members to develop and implement scientifically sound and socially workable wildlife conservation strategies. She joined the board of directors in 2014 and began working as the Science and Stewardship Coordinator in 2017. Andrea and her family live west of Pincher Creek and are happy to call southwestern Alberta ‘home’.
Mariajose Robinson [Director]
Mariajose Robinson is originally from Calgary. She earned a diploma in Hotel and Restaurant management from SAIT, and then continued her education at the University of Calgary, completing a Degree in Hotel and Resort Management (BHRM). While attending the University of Calgary she met her husband, who is a third generation Watertonian. Having now lived in Waterton for the past ten years, Maria and her husband call Waterton home year round. Maria has worked in various tourism and hospitality roles in Waterton and currently works for the Waterton Park Community Association. As the organizer for the Waterton Wildflower Festival and Waterton Wildlife Weekend, Maria’s knowledge of, and passion for Waterton’s incredible biodiversity has grown and she wants to continue to help spread awareness of the area’s unique characteristics and educate others about the Waterton Biosphere Reserve.
Wonnita Andrus [Director]
Wonnita’s fascination with the natural world began in the small ranching community of Bindloss, Alberta where she was born and raised. Her love for the birds, bees, (and even the fleas) spurred her to pursue a diploma in Renewable Resource Management, a bachelor degree in Environmental Science, and a master’s degree of Biology examining habitat fragmentation effects on prairie rattlesnakes. Wonnita is a registered Professional Biologist with over twenty years of fieldwork experience throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba completing wildlife, vegetation, and wetland inventories and providing mitigation or stewardship options.
Along with participating in various ecological studies, Wonnita has worked as a habitat stewardship coordinator with Operation Grassland Community, a wildlife biologist with TERA Environmental Consultants, and as a natural area manager on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Waterton Park Front project. She is now proud to serve as a Park Ecologist for Alberta Environment and Parks out of Pincher Creek.
In her free time Wonnita can be found hugging a tree, or better yet, some fescue.
Neil Dixon [Director]
Neil Dixon is a third generation Albertan. He is retired and is a resident of the MD of Ranchlands. He is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a BBA majoring in Petroleum Land Management. Neil was a director of numerous companies, including Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.
John Mckenzie [Parks Canada liaison]
John’s bio coming soon.
John Stoesser [Parks Canada liaison alternate]
John works as a communications officer in Waterton Lakes National Park. Before joining Parks Canada in 2015, he worked for the Pincher Creek Echo as the newspaper’s reporter, photographer and editor, sharing stories about the region and its residents. Since moving to the area, John has been continually inspired by the landscape and impressed by the people who make it their home. John graduated with a BA in Communications from Carleton University and also holds a Journalism diploma from Algonquin College.
Nora Manners [Executive Director / Biosphere Reserve Coordinator]
Nora has been the Coordinator of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve since 2009 and is also the Executive Director of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association. She has worked with conservation organizations since 2000 and prior to that was a national park Warden – working in a number of western national parks, finishing off her time with Parks Canada as the Wildlife Specialist for Wood Buffalo and then Jasper National Parks. Nora grew up on a mixed farm near Ghost Pine, Alberta and was happy to settle back into an agricultural community when she moved to the Waterton Biosphere Reserve in 2005. Nora and her husband live south of Pincher Creek where they run a cattle grazing and hay production operation. She is an enthusiastic promoter of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve and enjoys working with the community to build a sustainable future.
Crystal Hiebert [Communications Coordinator]
Crystal has joined the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association as the Communications Coordinator. Prior to moving to Waterton Lakes National Park in 2018, Crystal was the sole proprietor and head chef of her own dessert business in Edmonton. Since moving to the park, Crystal has deepened her relationship with nature and has grown a strong appreciation for the rich diversity of flora and fauna found here in the Waterton Biosphere Reserve. Crystal became a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide in 2020 and greatly enjoys exploring the area through hiking as well.
Elizabeth Anderson [Community Conservation Technician]
Elizabeth is a biological consultant and scientific editor who has joined the WBRA as the Community Conservation Technician. She grew up in the Maritimes but settled in Alberta after completing her degree at the University of Alberta. In 2009, Elizabeth and her family moved to Crowsnest Pass to be closer to the family cattle operation near Cowley. Elizabeth has previously contributed her expertise in developing the WBRA’s Species at Risk Action Plan and enjoys seeing conservation in action through on-the-ground stewardship projects.
Cody Spencer [Carnivores and Communities Program Technician]
Cody is a fourth-generation southern Albertan, having grown up on his family’s farm at the base of the Milk River Ridge west of Milk River. After five years of working and learning several trades, he took his conservation ethic and returned to agriculture, working on cattle and bison ranches in southern Alberta before forming Sweetgrass Bison, a bison production and marketing business. He worked within the Oldman Watershed Council’s Watershed Legacy Program from 2015 – 2017 and has recently returned to Alberta from three years of managing a ranch in Texas.
Cody and his wife Julia have a young son and another on the way. They have settled in Pincher Creek. He is passionate about improving the economic, environmental, and social viability of ranching and it’s coexistence with wildlife. Cody is excited to join the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association team.
If you would like more information about the Waterton Biosphere Reserve please contact us at:
Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
P.O. Box 7, Pincher Creek
Alberta T0K 1W0