Albi Sole, Our Founder (retired)
Albi Sole has been guiding since 1979 and has spent the last fourteen of those years working at the Outdoor Centre at the University of Calgary programming avalanche awareness, ski touring and climbing courses for the public. Albi has an extensive resume including: writing the World's first waterfall ice climbing guide, first climbing ascents in Europe, North and South America, and the Himalaya. Albi has guided groups to Aconcagua, Huascaran, and Denali, led two expeditions to Himalaya, and was a participant in lightweight sieges of the West Ridge of Makalu and the first ascent of the West Ridge of Everest from Tibet. In 2008 Albi completed an MSc. researching risk taking in avalanche terrain. Albi lives in Calgary and is married with three adult children.
Albi has now left the OCC and keeps on supporting our mission as a dedicated volunteer.
FRANZ PLANGGER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Franz's life path changed significantly upon participating in an outdoor expedition in 2001. Ever since then, he has been passionate about sharing the beauty of natural environments and the power of finding one's own potential. Franz completed a Bachelor's of Outdoor and Adventure Tourism in the beautifully scenic Saguenay/Lac Saint Jean region of Quebec and a Masters of Education, Leadership studies in the historical Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. He has spent more than a decade leading experiential education programs with organizations such as Outward Bound, NOLS, Class Afloat and Enviros Wilderness School. His journeys exposed him to many different environments, where he felt the power of the howling wind, saw rainbows painted on mountain sides, understood the lifesaving power of words and heard stories carried from generation to generation.
KATE HAMILTON, OUTDOOR ACTIVITY CLUB PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Kate is an outdoor enthusiast, engaging in many different outdoor adventures and prioritizing getting out to the mountains with her dog, and whomever else she can entice to come with her.
Kate went into outdoor guiding in 2010 after testing the waters and realizing that being outside was most important and enjoyable to her, moving, and teaching. She has been a sea kayak guide, guided backpacking trips, instructed snowboarding, and spent many years in outdoor camp leadership and as an outdoor leadership facilitator developing and teaching outdoor and fitness activities with a focus in mindfulness. Kate is also a mindfulness practices facilitator and yoga instructor with a special interest in back health, and yoga for outdoor sports such as hiking, biking, and paddling.
Kate’s passion is to help people become more active and to spend more time in the outdoors with purpose of health, both mentally and physically. Although Kate is not a teacher in a classical sense, she is an educator and life long learner, finding great satisfaction in leading outdoor activities and facilitating connection within people, between people, and with nature.
Loving most things active (pass on indoor swimming and volleyball) and all things outdoors, Kate’s spare time is spent on the move and usually outside. If Kate was forced into choosing one sport - on top of the mountain peaks is where she would be!
RHYA MERREL: ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
From playing in the mud with the family dogs to learning more outdoor sports, the love for nature and being outside has only grown since the start for Rhya.
Facilitating this ability to be outside as much as possible and where she calls home is British Columbia. She started riding horses when she was 5 years old, then added mountain biking, hiking, swimming, and now she’s flexing her learning by taking on winter sports like downhill skiing and cross-country skiing.
Over the last 5 years she’s been working as an administrative assistant primarily in the medical sector both in person and remotely.
She was a lifeguard before COVID hit and loved teaching all ages about water safety not only in a facility but also how to bring those skills to a lake, river, ocean, or a pool at home. Now she is pleased to be working for the OCC as our Administrative Assistant combining her work experience and great fondness of the outdoors.
ASHLEY IRVING: OUTDOOR ACTIVITY CLUB PROGRAM LEADER
Ashley is a third-year undergraduate student studying Indigenous Studies and Social Work at the University of Calgary. Ashley’s interests in academia include integrating intersectionality and decolonization into inclusive land-based learning and community wellness. Ashley believes that connecting to nature can be one of the most transformative and powerful components in a person’s healing journey and hopes to integrate her enthusiasm for the wilderness into her future career in Social Work. She has a diverse volunteer background doing work both locally and globally and has volunteered with Global Visions International doing marine and coastal conservation and community outreach in Thailand as well as Puspadi Bali doing rehabilitation, education and empowerment for people with disabilities. On a local level, Ashley has volunteered in a variety of capacities with local non-profit organizations like Amnesty International Calgary Chapter, The Sharp Foundation and Cedar’s Villa. Ashley hopes to continue to build her advocacy through learning and listening with intention.
DIRECTORS SERVING ON THE NATIONAL BOARD
DAVID STIBBE: PRESIDENT
Dave has over 25 years of experience in developing and leading innovative outdoor education programs in elementary, middle school, high school, and college. Dave’s experience in the outdoor industry also includes over fifteen years as a highly credentialed professional outdoor adventure guide and instructor. Dave has held senior management positions in the adventure tourism industry and sits on the Board of Directors of one of Canada's largest adventure tourism companies. Dave is also the founding partner of an award-winning urban-based outdoor adventure tourism company located in downtown Ottawa. Dave has a B.A from Carleton University and a B.Ed from the University of Ottawa and is a practicing high school Ontario Certified Teacher. Dave also was an early member of the Ottawa Riverkeepers Board of Directors and the former Director of Instruction for Whitewater Ontario. David Stibbe was the Federal Candidate representing the Green Party of Canada in Ottawa West Nepean in the 2019 Federal Election. He nearly doubled the vote count for the Green Party from the previous election and acquired the highest total vote count for a Green Party member in the riding's history. Dave's combination of success as an entrepreneur in the outdoor industry, senior management experience in the adventure tourism and retail sector, political advocacy for environmental issues and education, and experience developing and leading innovative outdoor education programs led to the Board unanimously approving Dave Stibbe to lead the Outdoor Council of Canada for the next two years. The OCC is a nationally incorporated, non-profit, founded to support the growth of the outdoor industry and promote universal access to outdoor education and recreation.
ERIC ABUGOV: VICE PRESIDENT
Eric Abugov is CEO and founder of Stockdale DevelopmentCorporation and Hale Corporation.
With over 35 years’ of practical experience in the delivery of built form and real estate development, he is widely regarded as a leader and innovator by his clients, colleagues and customers both past and present.
Eric believes that post pandemic there will be a major, pronounced upswing, leading to a surge in outdoor recreational activity and consumerism across the country. He believes that the OCC has an opportunity and in fact an obligation to build, support and enhance the infrastructure and systems required to handle this surge for all stakeholders.
KELLY MCDONALD: TREASURER
Kelly McDonald has always been called to by the Rocky
Mountains. As a child and youth, some of his fondest memories are of camping, hiking and backpacking in Kananaskis and the National Parks.
Today as a father of two, he is active in Scouts Canada as a Beaver Leader, and is always eager to get his kids out into the mountains.
During the week, Kelly is a Senior Manager in Deloitte’s Technology Strategy Practice and holds a MBA from Cornell University.
KRYSTLE MITCHELITIS: DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS & MEDIA
Krystle is nomadic at heart and has spent the past decade exploring and working across Canada. She grew up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where she found an appreciation for nature, the ocean and even picked up some of that east coast charm! College brought her to Ontario where she studied Business Management & Entrepreneurship and Tourism & Travel, before settling down on Georgian Bay for several years, managing a canoe and kayak outfitters. Krystle's love for the ocean and snow sports pulled her west to British Columbia, where she now resides, along the Sunshine Coast. When she is not hiking, paddling or diving, you can find her volunteering her free time to local Tourism Boards including Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (Sunshine Coast Trail), Tourism Powell River and the Powell Forest Canoe Route. During the Summer months, when wildlife is quite active, Krystle educates the community on human-wildlife conflict as the qathet Regional District Community Coordinator for WildSafeBC.
DAVE MITCHELL: DIRECTOR FOR ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
Dave received a teaching degree 15 years ago and took it outside right away. Focusing on alternative, outdoor education, and rehabilitation, he has spent the majority of his professional career working in an Adventure & Wilderness Therapy context. As a Trip Leader, instructor, guide and trainer, he has helped to therapeutically assist hundreds of youth with the challenges they may be facing, alongside training practitioners to deliver similar opportunities. Dave has 20 + years’ experience facilitating and providing training in Experiential Education, Adventure Based Learning (ABL), Leadership Development, Group Work and Facilitation, Adventure and Wilderness Therapy programming on all coasts of Canada and abroad. He holds degrees from NSCAD and Nipissing University and a variety of industry standard Instructor and Trainer certifications. His most important work to date however is home-schooling his four-year-old daughter outside amidst the pandemic!
SARAH SANDY: DIRECTOR FOR INDIGENOUS RELATIONS
Sarah Sandy is a member and resident of Beausoleil First Nation, Christian Island, in Ontario. She holds a BA in Indigenous Environmental Studies from Trent University in Peterborough, ON and a Diploma in Recreation
NICK TOWNLEY: DIRECTOR FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA
Nick is a teacher who lives, works and adventures on the shores of the Salish Sea. He teaches with the TREK Outdoor Education Program at Prince of Wales Secondary School, in Vancouver. He volunteers on the boards of the BC Environmental Educators Provincial Specialist Association (EEPSA) and the Classrooms to Communities BC Education Network (C2C). He worked on the coordinator team for seven summers with the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership. For thirteen seasons, he taught in the outdoor classroom of Howe Sound with Sea to Sky Outdoor School for Sustainability Education, where he was a Program Director and well known for his bioregional comedy routines. He has spent a total of six months as the Ecoguardian on Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.
Nick is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Education and Communication, at Royal Roads University. He also has a BA in Classics from the University of King’s College, a Graduate Diploma in Teaching from Otago University and a Diploma in Outdoor Environmental Education from the University of British Columbia.
COURT RUSTEMEYER: DIRECTOR FOR THE PRAIRIES (AB, SK, MAN)
Court has been a full time Outdoor Education teacher at Vincent Massey Junior High School in Calgary, Alberta for the past 12 years. He is also the President of an Alberta Teachers Association Specialist Council – GEOEC (Global, Environmental and Outdoor Education Council).
Court’s passion in student-led and experiential learning allows him to be out in the environment with his students in an outdoor classroom almost daily. Those hands-on experiences and inquiry-based learning allows Court to instill a greater understanding of indigenous and land based knowledge into his students and others. When not teaching, you will find Court out in the mountains participating in any number of activities, unplugging and recharging in nature.
GINA MARUCCI: DIRECTOR FOR ONTARIO
Gina is the Outdoor Education Resource Teacher
at the Vivian Outdoor Resource Centre, located in the York Region District School Board. Prior to this, she was seconded to Waabgon Gamig First Nation School where she helped to develop the Mother Earth Mentoring Program, a land-based program that works to build students’ naturalist skills and nature awareness while integrating big ideas from the Ontario curriculum and indigenous knowledge. Her work over the years has allowed her to partner with Deep Nature Connection Practitioners to design curriculum that integrates core routines into daily practice. Before teaching, Gina had an extensive career in archaeology that allowed her to work throughout remote regions of the continent. She is passionate about transformative education, hands-on experiential, inquiry-based learning that embraces indigenous knowledge. Gina spends her free time playing in nature with her husband and two boys.
VACANT: DIRECTOR FOR QUÉBEC
Are you interested in joining the OCC Board as Director for Québec?
NICOLE CAMERON: DIRECTOR FOR THE MARITIMES (NB, PEI, NS, NL)
Nicole was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta where she learned to love the outdoors by hiking and climbing in the Rockies.
She has had the chance to study and work in Alberta, BC, Ontario, and Nova Scotia where now lives.
She absolutely loves the Ocean and is pursuing a Master's of Science in Marine Ecology at Saint Francis Xavier University. It is with her scientific and conservation-centered background, that she approaches her outdoor adventures and leadership. She considers a field guide an essential piece of gear and is always ready with fun nature facts to share with the group.
NICHOLAS VIENNEAU: DIRECTOR FOR CANADA NORTH
Nicholas was born and raised in Ontario where his parents introduced him to the outdoor life style. Nicholas grew up exploring all of Ontario’s backwaters going on countless canoe trips around the province. In 2007 Nicholas moved to the Yukon to teach where he brought his love of the outdoors to the classroom. Since then Nicholas has infused experiential education into all his teaching practices. Nicholas was the acting Experiential Education Consultant for the Yukon for almost two years and really enjoys helping teachers incorporate more experiential education into their daily teaching practices.
RYAN BARFOOT: DIRECTOR-AT-LARGE
Ryan is happy to serve as the BC Director for the OCC. After graduating from the University of Victoria, Ryan completed his Bachelor of Education specializing in Outdoor and Experiential Learning at Queens University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum Development and Implementation at Simon Fraser University. His research interests include transformative education, contemporary Rites of Passage, place-based and ecological learning environments. Ryan has delivered education programs at the grassroots and governmental level. He has worked with Parks Canada, BC Parks, the National Forest Service and the National Parks Service before building the Outdoor & Ecological Learning department for the Powell River School District. He also chairs the district Sustainable Schools Committee and is the program coordinator for the Coast Mountain Academy. Ryan has piloted sustainability programs and co-authored curriculum documents with the BC Ministry of Education. He speaks & delivers workshops in the areas of Environmental and Nature-based Education and is a core team member of the Classrooms to Communities Provincial PD project. With a passion for pretty much everything, he puts his heart and soul into all he does. Ryan is guided by his belief that a better world is possible and relentlessly endeavours to be a net benefit to this world. He, his wife Karin and son Wren currently live in the old Townsite (Powell River) on the Sunshine Coast BC, Canada.
HEATHER BLACK: DIRECTOR AT LARGE
A natural born adventuriest from the Blood Tribe Nation. Heather is known as the 'Indigenous adventure girl', after 5 years of hiking the Canadian Rockies.
She is a hiker, a photographer, a business advisor/facilitator, and a sports enthusiast. Heather's most rewarding experience is being engulfed in the vast beauty of the mountains, sharing the passion of her culture and stories of resilience.
As a spirited entrepreneur, she is connected to the Business Development and Educational sectors. Heather's connections in Treaty Seven, allows her to support Indigenous entrepreneurs and like-minded adventurers, with the ultimate goal of giving you an all round authentic Indigenous experience.