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!
SYDNEY LITWIN: ADMINISTRATOR
The Rocky Mountains are where Sydney calls home. The pull for this area started when she was in university at Mount Royal completing her Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership degree. After spending many nights in the mountains and then completing an outdoor leadership field school in Norway, she decided it was time to make the dream a reality.
Sydney loves spending any time she can outside - especially if she can bring her dog Dean along for the adventure. While most people dread the cold months, Sydney's favorite season is winter where she can enjoy the sun and snow at the same time.
Sydney is passionate about the future of the outdoor industry and how she can combine alternative healing with nature as a means to get folks into the wilderness. Experiential education is something that has greatly impacted Sydney's life and therefore she hopes to inspires others simply by getting them outside.
ASHLEY IRVING: OUTDOOR ACTIVITY CLUB PROGRAM COORDINATOR
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.
LINDA "LECKO" LECKIE: PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Lecko has been a camper, canoe tripper, and winter traveller for over 60 years. An Outdoor Pursuits degree from the University of Calgary, Teachers College, a Masters Degree in Outdoor Teacher Education, academic research on the role of the wilderness travel experience in education, coupled with numerous professional guiding certifications set the stage for a lengthy and storied career as an outdoor educator and wilderness travel guide.
As the former Director of Outdoor Education for the Bishop Strachan School in Toronto, her favourite classroom was a northern landscape where her students participated in residential programs and traditional wilderness travel experiences in all four seasons. She continues to share her love for the trail with summer youth camps, other outdoor organizations, and commercial guiding companies. Working with emergent outdoor professionals, leading training and certification programs in leadership, risk management, and outdoor skills, remains a passion today.
Despite canoe trips to northern rivers, snowshoe treks in Labrador, and kayaking trips in many southern climes, her ‘sense of place’ is in Algonquin Park, Ontario. When not in Algonquin she can be found at her Huntsville home working in the garden, reading a good whodunnit, or cycling and hiking the local trails looking for feathered friends.
DIRECTORS SERVING ON THE NATIONAL BOARD
SARAH SANDY: PRESIDENT
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
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.
HEATHER BLACK: SECRETARY
A natural born adventurist 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.
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!
VACANT: INDIGENOUS DIRECTOR
Are you interested in joining the OCC Board as Indigenous Director ?
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?
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 Barfoot (@rybarfoot) 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 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. With a passion for connecting people to their earthly home, 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 children Wren and Rio currently live in the old Townsite (Powell River) on the Sunshine Coast BC, Canada. You can find more about his work here: https://integralearning.org/
VACANT: DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS & MEDIA
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 she 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.