Introducing our new Technicians

Hi there, our names are Lisa Browning and Courtney Leermakers and we are excited to join the Adopt-A-Pond team for the next 35-weeks as Wetland Conservation Technicians! We are also joined by Christine Drader who is from the Turtle Island Conservation team as the new First Nations Conservation Technician. We look forward to being part of all the field projects being organized this year. This includes tracking the headstart and adult Blanding’s turtles, snake cover board surveys, snake emergence surveys, and acoustic frog call monitoring. For the first few weeks we will be focusing on frog and toad call surveys by listening in-person as well as setting up acoustic monitors, and snake emergence surveys. We all have an ecology background and a passion for reptile and amphibian conservation. Please enjoy a little background about each of our education and practical experiences.  

Introductions 

Lisa Browning: This is my first time working with the Toronto Zoo and the Adopt-A-Pond team and I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and being out in the field! I have a B.Sc. degree from Trent University in Biology and Environmental Science and a diploma from Fleming College in Ecosystem Management.  I worked with the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre on the field team last summer, where I aided in the tracking of turtles. Previously, I worked with the MNRF as a summer student for the Wildlife Research and Monitoring section which included turtle and snake surveys and trapping/tracking bats. I can’t wait for all there is to come working with the Adopt-A-Pond program, and for all the critters we may find! 

Courtney Leermakers: I am a returning Field Technician, who recently completed their Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, researching road mortality hotspots in Rouge National Urban Park. I have worked with Adopt-A-Pond over two previous summers collecting road mortality data for my thesis and helping with additional projects including radio telemetry, snake coverboard surveys, acoustic monitoring, and outreach. I have previously worked as an Aquatic Technician with Fisheries and Oceans Canada working on fish species at risk monitoring and recovery. Through these experiences you can see I am passionate about native reptile and amphibian conservation and education.  

Christine Drader: I am a Métis individual who is new to working with the Toronto Zoo and Turtle Island Conservation (TIC). I am looking forward to strengthening and combining my Indigenous heritage with my love of conservation. As a TIC Conservation Technician, I will be working closely with the Adopt-A-Pond team in their Blanding’s turtle headstarting and reintroduction program and other monitoring programs. I have a B.Sc. degree from the University of Guelph in Biological Sciences, where I gained a passion for the ecology and conservation of all ecosystems. In the last year, I have been volunteering with Blazing Star Environmental in their Western Chorus Frog monitoring program and have experience working with fish and invertebrate species through volunteer experience in the Wright Lab and a marine biology field course at the University of Guelph.  

The Adopt-A-Pond team is incredibly excited to be welcoming new and returning staff to our team! We are all so excited for the upcoming field season! Be sure to keep an eye out for future blog posts in the coming weeks!