Our organization exists to monitor and preserve the health of local ecosystems, and to provide educational programs that foster a greater understanding of the natural environment.

Our organization exists to monitor and preserve the health of local ecosystems, and to provide educational programs that foster a greater understanding of the natural environment.

Our organization exists to monitor and preserve the health of local ecosystems, and to provide educational programs that foster a greater understanding of the natural environment.

Friends of Cortes Island Society

Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCI) is a charitable organization that has been active for over 25 years.

Our organization exists to monitor and preserve the health of local ecosystems, and to provide educational programs that foster a greater understanding of the natural environment. Through all of our projects, we work to promote environmental integrity through community responsibility. As a charitable society, our purposes are:

• To identify environmentally sensitive areas, particularly on Cortes and neighbouring islands.
• To monitor and protect wildlife and the safeguarding of its natural habitat.
• To promote the protection of the forests, lakes, streams and critical watersheds and the enhancement of fish stocks where appropriate.
• To promote the study and preservation of the cultural heritage and historical landmarks of the area.
• To provide educational programs that relate to ecological understanding and appreciation of the environment.

Charity information

Charity #: 13338 2889 RR0001  – Society #S-002 6477 reg. July 27, 1990

Meet our Executive Director, Program Coordinators and Board of Directors

Helen Hall

Helen Hall

Executive Director

Helen is responsible for the overall management of FOCI, which includes financial planning, fundraising, and developing and supporting FOCI’s environmental and educational programs and activities. 

Helen has lived on Cortes for three years, and is a recent arrival from the UK, where she worked as an ecologist and environmental manager.  She treasures the wildness and fabulous natural open space on Cortes, and loves to be out in nature, whether it’s exploring the beach or hiking in the forest.

Ryan Harvey

Ryan Harvey

Parks and Trails Coordinator

Ryan has been doing parks work for over 13 years on Cortes.  He loves working outside and helping all ages to enjoy our great big beautiful Cortes.

Ryan maintains trails and works to remove dangers and hazards, as well as build new trails, and repair bridges and boardwalks.  Ryan maintains Carrington Bay Park and the Gnat, Moon, Seascape and Hayes beach access trails.  He also coordinates teams of volunteers to help care for our parks.

Alex Bernier

Alex Bernier

Kw’as Park Coordinator

Alex works in K’was Park keeping the trails open and in good shape by raking and cutting back vegetation, and building and repairing board walks, ladders and bridges, as well as creating new trails. 

He loves working in the forest; it keeps him connected to nature, as well as fit and healthy.  It also helps keeping Cortes wild and natural by protecting our forest and wilderness, and promotes a healthy lifestyle for locals and others too!

Laura Ellingsen

Laura Ellingsen

Cortes Island School (CIS) Sustainability Education Coordinator

Laura loves to garden and introduce children of all ages to ecology through the yearly cycles of food gardens. She has designed the program to foster the creative study of ecosystem dynamics and cycles, food production and sustainability, and a love of learning and the natural world. 

Over the last six years she has worked with the students and teachers to design, develop, and maintain the gardens in their yearly cycles, look closely at the ecology embedded within the garden and study the relationships between human-made natural systems and those of nature.

Rex Weyler

Rex Weyler

Lake Stewardship Coordinator

Rex Weyler is an ecologist, writer, and teacher on Cortes Island. Rex is reviewing lake data and report from the Ministry of Environment BC, and is preparing a report on the health of the lake, using both historical and the most current data.

He is researching various modes of bio-remediation for the lake, including using native plants along the shoreline. He will help conduct community discussion regarding septic fields, livestock fields, and fertilizer use around the lake, to protect the lake from nutrient and bacteria runoff.

Christine & Cec Robinson

Christine & Cec Robinson

Stream Stewardship Coordinators

Christine has been a long-time teacher & naturalist on Cortes, and oversees salmon enhancement programmes with students, raising coho eggs and releasing them into Cortes creeks. She has a love of wild things and wild places, and sees the critical importance of healthy forests supporting healthy streams supporting healthy fish.

Cec’s favourite place in the world is the cool, green, overgrown edge of a healthy stream. When four years old, he fell in love with the first little trout that he saw living there, and the fish have been teaching him about themselves ever since.

Sabina Leader-Mense

Sabina Leader-Mense

Marine Stewardship Coordinator

Sabina is a professional biologist trained in the marine sciences, who wholeheartedly concurs with Arthur C. Clarke when he wrote, “How inappropriate to call this Planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean.” She is a dedicated environmental educator who travels the far reaches of the world ocean promoting awareness and knowledge of the marine environment through education.

Sabina coordinates the FOCI Marine Stewardship Initiative, which takes a comprehensive look at Cortes Island’s marine ecosystems, bringing them into the community arena through citizen science research and long-term environmental monitoring programs.

Gina Trzesicka

Gina Trzesicka

Lake Volunteer Coordinator

Gina came to Cortes in 2010 and loves the island.  She hopes the wonderful nature and quiet life on our island never change.

Gina wears two hats for FOCI!  She coordinates the lake monitoring volunteers and is responsible for updating the FOCI website content.

Max Thaysen

Max Thaysen

President

Max Thaysen immigrated to Cortes Island from Vancouver in 2007. He has been elected to the board of FOCI since 2009, and been appointed president since 2012. 

Max has committed himself to many activities that increase the resilience of the biosphere of Cortes and reduce his own ecological footprint and that of the community. Since studying human impacts in 2001 at University of Victoria, he has reduced his own carbon footprint to an estimated 2.5t CO2e/year, well below the national average of between 15-23 tCO2e/year per capita.

Kate Maddigan

Kate Maddigan

Vice President

Being nominated in high school as “Person Most Likely to Save a Whale” was only the beginning. Since then, environment and sustainability has topped Kate’s work and educational interests, along with many years’ worth of wilderness adventures BC, Yukon, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Kate has served on the FOCI board since 2010, and has recently taken on the Transportation Demand Study for Cortes Island.  She also spends her time raising her son Fergus, and serves the community as part-time paramedic. 

Greg Osoba

Greg Osoba

Director

Greg has lived on Cortes since 1989 and recalls the founding of FOCI. His keen appreciation for the pristine environment of the island and FOCI’s conservation and education efforts over the decades inspired him to become involved with the organization. 

Greg also plays in two Cortes-based bands, has volunteered as a DJ on Cortes radio for more than 10 years and loves to garden, play Ultimate frisbee and travel. He’s also the Senior Producer of Cortes Radio’s Deep Roots documentary series and helps out at Linnaea Farm and the Cortes Natural Foods Co-op with publicity and events.

Elizabeth Anderson

Elizabeth Anderson

Director

Elizabeth came to Cortes 22 years ago, and values its peace and tranquillity.  She likes being on the FOCI board because of the shared common interest of protecting our natural environment.  Elizabeth is an active stream keeper and been in and out of streams since she was a kid. 

She is a passionate gardener – making the most of the rocky site she lives on and also growing a big vegetable garden too.  In her spare time she like to noodle around on the piano.  She loves to play with colours and is an accomplished quilt maker and part time artist.

Fred Savage

Fred Savage

Director

Fred greatly values being on the FOCI board and the strong mandate the organization has both for the environment and community’ participation.

Fred is a local resident, works with the land and wood, and enjoys coastal life and living as part of a vibrant island community.

Colin Funk

Colin Funk

Director

Colin has been a resident of Cortes since 2014.   As a young boy, he spent his early years playing and exploring in the wilds of North Vancouver.
Despite a wide range of education and work experiences – theatre artist, radio broadcaster, leadership development trainer, organizational facilitator and consultant – Colin maintains that his most impactful teacher in life has been mother nature.   

Currently on Cortes Colin spends much of his time supporting local non-profits with capacity building and meeting facilitation.  His creative talents are exercised on island through ReWild Theatre (Eco-Theatre) and the Laughing Mussels (Improv Troupe).   He is excited to join as a board member of Friends of Cortes Island as a way to leverage the arts, ecology and island culture for a healthy and sustainable Cortes Island.

Tamara McPhail

Tamara McPhail

Director

Tamara has been living on Cortes Island and farming at Linnaea Farm with her family since 2000.  A passionate farmer, educator, and executive director at Linnaea Farm, she divides her time between administration, rotational grazing cattle, marketing, organizing workshops, sheep herding and growing food.

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