Meet the Team

Emily Keller

Emily is a first-generation Canadian with German roots who grew up on a small island in the traditional territories of the Laich-kwil-tach and Mainland Comox. As a kid, she had twelve pet chickens and helped run her family’s kayak lodge. After finishing a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies back east, Emily returned to beautiful Coast Salish territory to apply her entrepreneurial spirit to running a non-profit. Emily lives as close to Stanley Park as possible with her Mexican-Canadian partner, Edgar. She listens to CBC radio on the daily and loves to paint birds, read novels, bake German cakes, swim in lakes, and spend time on the land.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: I Phone: 604-319-1729

Joyce Liao 廖釆約

Joyce is a first generation Taiwanese Canadian who grew up in Treaty 7. Since moving to Coast Salish territories to pursue an undergraduate degree at UBC in sustainable food systems, she has been gardening up a storm with peers and centering placemaking as a community practice. These days, Joyce spends most of her time pondering the interfaces of critical pedagogy, food justice and youth community engagement. When she isn’t thinking about alternative futures, you can find her drawing, biking, and tree climbing.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email:  I  Phone: 604-689-4446 

Marika van Reeuwyk

Marika grew up in Agassiz, a small town nestled by the Fraser River where the Coast Mountains meet the Northern Cascades. She is of Chinese Singaporean and Dutch ancestry, and is constantly learning, exploring and growing in her role as a settler on Coast Salish territory. Marika’s ceaseless journey of learning has led her to complete a diploma in Environmental Studies from Langara College and a BSc in Applied Biology, Plant & Soil Sciences program. Driven by a soulful passion for native bees and plants, she completed a  thesis project focused on evaluating bee and floral communities in hedgerows at the UBC Farm, and volunteered many hours in the Spencer Entomological Collection at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.  Today, she is the Vice President of the Native Bee Society of BC. Marika’s heart is invested in environmental stewardship and community-driven science, and she has over 10 years of experience leading workshops and programs to grow environmental awareness and passion for native plants and pollinators around Vancouver.  On a personal level she has a strong interest in decolonization and facilitating opportunities for typically disengaged populations to connect with nature.  Marika leads EYA’s Land Guardians program and Pollinator Citizen Science programs.

Office: 604-689-4446

David Palmer

David grew up in England and arrived in Vancouver after a year-long bicycle journey across Europe and Asia. David loves being outside, whether exploring our beautiful forest and coastal ecosystems, biking around the city, or growing food in the garden. He believes in the importance of nature for our physical and mental well-being and is passionate about restoring ecological balance and community to our urban environments.

With over six years’ experience raising funds for non-profits in the UK and Canada, David is excited to help EYA provide transformative nature-based learning for Vancouver’s urban youth. He studied Human Geography and Cultural Studies and has a Master’s degree in Gender studies from the University of Westminster and Birkbeck College, University of London respectively.

Get in touch with David to learn about how your donation can make an impact on Vancouver’s youth and environment. Email:

Brennan Lew-Cooke

Brennan Lew-Cooke’s ancestry is Mi’kmaq from the Qalipu First Nation, and he has had the privilege of being born and raised in the territories of the Coast Salish peoples. Brennan completed his Bachelor of Science in the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems with a specialization in Indigenous Health. For several years he coordinated the Cedar Summer Camp for Indigenous youth at the UBC Farm and the Bridge Through Sport Reading Club, a literacy program for Musqueam First Nation youth. With a passion for culture and staying active, Brennan believes in the power of science to build youth’s confidence and motivation surrounding wildlife activism. He is excited to work with the brilliant young minds from our communities. Email:

Sahar Zandieh

There are many ways of learning & knowing, and Sahar joins the EYA with the hope of supporting youth in connecting with the environment around them, tapping into the knowledge it holds. Her studies in Land & Food Systems were inspired by a desire to explore our relationship with food & land, and her previous work has focused on small-scale organic farming of both food and ornamental crops, offering opportunities for youth to engage in that work. She is always eager to learn alongside youth, who have such tremendous capacity to contribute to the flourishing of our communities. She has worked alongside youth in diverse contexts for over a decade, and is eager to continue this exploration through the work of the EYA. Sahar coordinates the Native Plants for Birds program of the EYA.


Niki Westman

Niki enjoys counting the beans for EYA as much as she loves growing and eating them.  Niki is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) with a background as a full-cycle accountant for various organizations including environmental, community economic development, renewable energy, food security, agriculture, youth mentorship, allopathic and holistic natural health care.

Her Masters thesis in English Literature focused on the teachings of aboriginal ecological principles and worldviews in fiction written by First Nations’ authors.  In 2002, Niki founded a community garden in Mount Pleasant which she continues to coordinate today.  Thanks to EYA’s community nursery program, in 2010 Niki had her most successful crop of kale from EYA-grown seedlings that towered over six feet tall in her plot.  And now, every summer she harvests big, juicy apples from the trees donated to her community garden many years ago from EYA.

Meet our Board of Directors

Andrea Duke, Chair

Andrea was born and raised in Vancouver. She grew up spending much of her time in nature, which fueled her passion for first degree – a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Psychology from the University of Victoria. Since then, she’s gained over 7 years experience in Human Resources, earning her Chartered Professional in Human Resources designation and an MBA from the UBC Sauder School of Business. Andrea is currently the Manager of HR Solutions at TPD, a international HR and Workforce Solutions firm. In her role, she oversees and delivers HR consulting services to small and medium sized businesses in multiple industries and sectors. Andrea is happy to be combining her interests in Biology and Human Resources with her role as a Board Member at large with EYA.

Sara Fralin, Vice Chair

Sara holds a MA in Sustainability Studies from Trent University and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Environment Studies from the University of Victoria. She is a certified yoga instructor who loves the outdoors and is often found camping and skiing throughout BC. She currently works for a renewable energy company as the coordinator of community engagement and grants. She is very excited to be joining EYA’s board of directors this year.

Amanda Adams, Secretary

Amanda grew up on the prairies but after migrating to Vancouver has fallen in love with the west coast. When she isn’t working she can be found camping and foraging in the forest, working in her garden, or trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She also relishes a good food pun, no matter how corny.

With degrees in conservation biology and cultural anthropology and a graduate diploma in environmental education she sees the importance of connecting youth to nature for building and sustaining thriving communities. Amanda also has a strong background in facilitation work, working with adults and youth in various educational settings. She believes that hands-on, experiential learning is the best way to inspire and empower others to make healthy choices for themselves, their community, and for the environment.

Amanda has a diverse background working with a number of environmental nonprofits in a variety of roles, and is currently the Program Manager at Growing Chefs! Chefs for Children’s Urban Agriculture.

Patty Low, Treasurer

Patty is CPA CGA with over 15 year post designate experience.  She has worked in industry, non-profit and charity organizations in her career and finds working in charities and non-profits more rewarding.  In 2018 she made a conscious decision to seek out volunteer and employment roles in organizations working towards positive social and environmental change so it very excited to take on the role of Treasurer on the Board of EYA.

Baily Molotsky

Baily moved to BC in 2006 and never looked back. Originally from Calgary, she found her love for nature by going to outdoor summer camps for over 10 years. Baily currently works in the non-profit sector in fundraising and donor relations. When not working, you can find her traveling, cooking delicious plant-based food, playing hockey or boxing.

Alvin Singh

Alvin has lived and worked right across Canada but was born and raised in Vancouver. A communications and branding professional by trade, he has worked at all three levels of government as well as for non-profit and for-profit ventures. His deep commitment to protecting the natural world began courtesy of his uncle’s famous camping trips and turned into summers working on reforestation projects in Northern Ontario and protecting native plant species in the Okanagan Valley – a place he considers his second home. When he’s not working, Alvin can usually be found lake swimming in the summers, skiing in the winters, and always ready to play hockey.

Ben Heller

Ben was born and raised in the Vancouver Lower Mainland and continues to call Vancouver his home. With a thirst for knowledge and travel, he went to Halifax, NS where he studied at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. Since graduating, Ben has developed a diverse legal background having started as a clerk at the Court of Appeal of BC before moving into private practice and then eventually transitioning to in-house legal counsel. Outside the office, Ben loves to be as active as possible and can be found snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, playing or coaching soccer, travelling the globe or simply enjoying a walk around the seawall. As a youth soccer coach since 2011 and, more recently, a food bank volunteer, Ben appreciates the importance of connecting with the community.  He is excited to continue to support youth development in the community and learn more about environmental stewardship himself as a member of the EYA’s board of directors. 

Tommy Kuo

Tommy moved to Vancouver in 2015 and has since immersed himself in the natural beauty of the West Coast. Be it a hike on local trails or a camping trip to Vancouver Island, every nature exploration is a reminder to him about the importance of environmental protection. His love and curiosity for the natural world led to his participation in two EYA summer programs on pollinator ecology, during which he was deeply inspired by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the EYA team. After leading education and volunteer programs with Pacific Spirit Park Society, doing public outreach with David Suzuki Foundation, and creating sustainability projects with Engineers Without Borders, he is returning to EYA as a Youth Board Member to work with the same individuals that helped cultivate his environmental leadership in non-profits. He is currently a third year UBC student pursuing an honours thesis in Chemical Biology, with research interests in plant biology and green chemistry.

Kristina Zalite

Kristina has lived half of her life in Vancouver, and the other half was lived around the globe. In 1993 she started her journey in learning about the local Coastal Western Hemlock Douglas Fir ecosystem while studying Printmaking at UBC. In 1994 she participated in a youth skills development training at EYA (through Youth Services Canada), which influenced her career choice to become a Landscape Architect.  Her studies in Landscape Architecture included a thesis on public participation in the creation of territorial parks in Nunavut. Kristina’s work and passion is in facilitating a good marriage between nature and culture.

Lisa Tam

Lisa grew up in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong, where it is extremely difficult to find a community garden to grow plants and crops. After following her family to immigrate to Vancouver, Canada, growing plants and crops at the backyard is no longer a dream. She loves to plant flowers and trees in her own garden. Watering plants and shrubs is one of her favourite activities to do with her little son during the spring and summer. Other than that, Lisa enjoys biking and hiking. Lisa graduated from the Simon Fraser University, and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) and Certified Public Accountant (Delaware) in the United States. Lisa is excited to advise the Board with regards to financing and accounting matters.

Meet our Youth Advisory Committee

Sacha Stevens

Sacha grew up in northern British Columbia and is from Nisga’a Nation. He works for Ray-Cam Community Centre leading children’s programs and goes to Cedar Walk Alternative high school in Vancouver. He’s interested in becoming a social worker or counsellor one day. Sacha joined EYA by volunteering for the Wildlife Stewards program in spring 2018, and returned to volunteer again for the Fall program. He joined the Youth Advisory Committee because he cares deeply about the air, the water and the land… He wants to help other youth take care of nature, because nature takes care of us.

Wendel Vistan

Wendel is currently a student in Environmental Studies at Langara College and hopes to pursue a career in urban planning. She’s originally from a small farm town in the Philippines and moved to Canada when she was 6 years old. Apart from being a student, she also works as nanny for a sweet family and during the summer months, works at local farms to learn more about horticulture and the land and food systems. She has been volunteering with EYA for two years, beginning with the Native Plant Nursery program and later with the summer Stewardship program. Volunteering with EYA has impacted Wendel’s life with her studies, with the people she’s met through the programs, as well as her daily life activities and observations. She is excited to join the Youth Committee, be a part of such a great organization, and be able to share her ideas with the other likeminded youth and inspire others to get outside!

Derrick Chong

Derrick first worked with EYA in high school, where he helped restore Oak Meadows Park with his biology class. Following that experience, he pursued three different EYA programs. His love of plant science was a result of his years of work with EYA. Derrick graduated high school as valedictorian and most importantly, founder of the garden club as a result of his work with EYA.

Derrick is now a second year student in the UBC-BCIT Biotechnology Honours Bachelor’s degree program. He plans to combine his passion of plant sciences with modern biotechnology to achieve his ultimate dream of becoming a professor. Until then, he spends countless hours in lecture and in the lab. When he is not at school, Derrick enjoys biking and hiking with his friends, but still, he is always learning, especially when he is biking too fast on a downhill slope. His favourite plant is the lupin, a nitrogen fixer and beautiful flower. His least favourite plant is the invasive Himalayan blackberry, which ironically serves as the background in his photo.

Derrick is excited to work with EYA yet again, but this time as the Youth Board Member and member of the Youth Advisory Committee and from a different perspective. He hopes to impact the organization, just as much as EYA impacted him.

Samuel MacTavish

Sam was born and raised in Vancouver, and is currently studying Environmental Studies at Langara. He has always had a strong interest in nature and started volunteering with the EYA in 2014. In his time with the EYA, Sam has assumed a wide variety of tasks as a volunteer. He started saving seeds as part of the EYA’s Urban Seeds program and has continued volunteering with the organization since then. He has since helped with growing and planting native plants in an effort to rewild the Strathcona gardens, educating youth about nature and gardening, and participated in nature based education and research initiatives, including the Pollinator Citizen Science Program. The latter taught Sam all about different species of pollinators and their habitats and life cycles. Sam hopes to continue learning and teaching youth about wildlife and how to teach others to become environmental stewards by practicing gardening that benefits wildlife, as well as about biodiversity and the nature found around them in the city.