EcoQuest Faculty, Staff and Academic Associates

Jono Clark

Director

BS (1979) Victoria University, Wellington; Dip.Teaching (1980), Christchurch College of Education. Jono specialised in student-directed learning and high-school program and curriculum development (science, maths and outdoor studies), and has extensive experience in adult education. He is one of the co-founders of the Environmental Education Centre of New Zealand. Jono’s personal interest in just societies has led him into a life-time involvement in development of service learning and iwi-relations. Jono maintains supportive working relationships with local iwi, local schools and the wider community of stakeholders. Jono is the key person for the EcoQuest network for international education.

Ria Brejaart

Academic Director, Co-founder of the EcoQuest Education Foundation, Executive Trustee

Dip Parks & Recreation Management (1987); M.Appl.Sci in Ecology (1994) Lincoln University (with distinction). Ria is one of the co-founders of the Environmental Education Centre of New Zealand. She has a personal interest in community initiatives that generate conservation outcomes. Her commitment to education for sustainability and the natural sciences led her to become one of the co-founders of EcoQuest. Ria is responsible for program and curriculum development, program delivery and the development of student research. Ria supervises the EcoQuest academic team for the Ecology in Action and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Aotearoa programs. Ria maintains relationships with academic and research associates and external collaborators and liaises with the UNH-EcoQuest Academic Program Coordinator.

Steve Schoultz

Operations Manager

Steve originates from Zimbabwe and has lived in New Zealand since 2001. Steve has extensive experience in IT and management. He is the co-founder of a thriving software company, was IT Director for a multinational professional services firm, took on IT management roles at LIC, a major player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Over the past decade he moved into a Sustainability Specialist role at LIC. He spent several years on the board of The Natural Step New Zealand and is experienced in using The Natural Step framework as a basis for a strategic approach to sustainability. His keen interest in, and commitment to, sustainable living led him to join the EcoQuest team in 2019. Steve manages the field centre and provides operational support for all EcoQuest programs. Steve is responsible for risk management, enhancing operational performance and maintaining the well-being of the organisation, its staff and its students. Together with the Director, Jono Clark, Steve works on developing sustainable solutions for EcoQuest.

Ecology in Action Faculty and Staff

Chris Longson

Ecologist, Herpetologist, Lecturer

BSc(Hons, first class) in Zoology (2001), Victoria University, Wellington. PhD in Ecology (2008), Macquarie University, Sydney. Chris has an interest in both marine and terrestrial ecology, with a particular focus on herpetology. He has experience working with New Zealand's native herpetofauna, and currently holds site-specific permits relating to surveys for native frogs, native lizards, and tuatara. He also has a more general interest in the conservation and management of our native species, and has designed surveys that span a broad range of ecological issues. This includes techniques for using tree weta (Hemideina species) as a tool for ecological monitoring, and surveys of a coastal saltmarsh threatened by rising sea levels and inundation. Chris has been with EcoQuest since 2010. He works with community groups and local councils to co-ordinate several long-term monitoring projects. 

David Clarke

Lecturer

BSc in Environmental Science (2009) National University of Ireland Galway (first class hons); PhD in Acarology, National University of Ireland Galway (2015). David has worked in Ireland as a lecturer in ecological survey techniques and sustainable resource management. He has a strong interest in terrestrial and freshwater ecology, entomology, epidemiology and human health. David shares responsibility for delivering course programs as well as developing and supervising student research projects.

Shelley Langton-Myers

Ecologist, Entomologist, Lecturer 

BSc (Hons, first class) in Zoology (2010) Massey University, Ph.D. in Biology (2014), The University of Auckland. Shelley focuses on terrestrial ecology and is an invertebrate specialist. She is experienced in identifying insects in New Zealand and overseas. She spent two years working at Clemson University (SC, USA), where she collected and identified beetles for her research on Southern Appalachian beetle diversity. Shelley has been a part of the EcoQuest team for four years. She represents EcoQuest on the Maungatautari Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel. Shelley has a passion for enabling everyone to take part in conservation. She frequently works with conservation trusts and students.     

Catherine van Gessel

Field Leader

BSc in Geography (2009) Otago University. Catherine has a variety of experience in sustainability fields. This includes working with local stakeholders to establish a kindergarten in a small community in rural Tanzania, outreach science communication in Western Australia, mammalian pest control in New Zealand and masters-level courses at Utrecht University (Netherlands). She has strong interests in gardening, hiking and cycling. At EcoQuest Catherine shares responsibility for field exercises and extended field trips as well as support for Directed Research Projects.


Ramon Balderas

Field Leader

BSc in Biology, UAM, Mexico (2010); M. International Ecology, Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada and ECOSUR, Mexico (2013). Ramon is passionate about ecology and outdoor activities. He has international work experience in different conservation projects, including working with howler monkeys in the South East of Mexico, manatee conservation in Belize and Colombia, whale and marine invertebrate projects in the Sea of Cortes, Mexico, and ecological restoration projects in the Auckland region. Ramon has experience working with young adults in ecological education through field work and outreach programs. At EcoQuest, Ramon shares the responsibility for field exercises and extended field trips, as well as support for Directed Research Projects


Rebekah Gee

Field Leader

BSc in Marine Biology and Ecology and Biodiversity (double major) (2009) Victoria University, Wellington; Rebekah is an experienced surf lifesaver and first-aid instructor. She has a personal interest in the outdoors and in community conservation groups (both in New Zealand and abroad). Rebekah shares responsibility for field exercises and extended field trips, as well as support for Directed Research Projects.

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Aotearoa Faculty and Staff

Willy Cameron

Lead Academic/Lecturer

BSc in Genetics and Molecular Biology (1995), MSc (Hons) in Genetics and Molecular Biology (1998) Victoria University, Wellington. Willy grew up in Wellington, where his family life included extensive vegetable gardens, which in part fuelled his passion for learning about food and cooking. A move to the Tasman district of Te Waipounamu the South Island led Willy’s focus to shift from conservation to sustainable agriculture: food / food systems, forestry and land management. His keen interest in learning processes led Willy to teaching, both in Aotearoa and internationally (International Honours Program – New Zealand, India, Mexico). Willy is well-connected to the growers and farmers in the Motueka catchment. Willy has a commitment to the sustainability of rural ecology, production and community. His experience with many aspects of sustainable agriculture and his passion for education led Willy to join the EcoQuest team. Willy is responsible for overseeing the delivery of the SAFSA program, he is the academic point person for several weeks of the semester, and he shares the responsibility of maintaining relationships with external collaborators and contributors to the program.


Scott Williamson

Lead Academic/Lecturer

BScAg in Agricultural Economics (1988) University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada (Distinction); MAgSc, Natural Resource Economics (1990), Lincoln University (Honours). Scott has extensive experience in central government policy and operations – specifically in fisheries and aquaculture (sustainable harvest levels, allocating catches and water space). Over the last decade Scott’s focus has been on sustainable entrepreneurship - primarily in the apiculture sector, mentoring small businesses, economics and teaching. He has a professional interest in developing ecologically and economically sound agricultural enterprises and food systems as well as collaborative models of rural social and community change. His personal interests include beekeeping and experimentation with diversified sustainable farming and conservation practices. Scott shares responsibility for delivering the SAFSA program, with an emphasis on farm and agribusiness placements, and local sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

Aneika Young

Ngāti Rārua, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Ngāti Ruanui.

Lecturer

BSc Environmental Studies and Māori Resource Management (2011), MSc in Environmental Studies (2014), Victoria University, Wellington. Aneika grew up in Motueka in Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Māui (Top of the South Island). Aneika began her career in Environmental Studies in the tourism industry. She currently works part time as an Environmental Scientist and Māori Cultural Advisor at the Cawthron Institute and is part of the Māori Business Development and Research team, building Māori capability and providing advice amongst staff. Aneika is an environmental consultant, and her research interests focus on the interface between Mātauranga Māori/Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science and how these two discourses meet to provide environmental solutions. Aneika is interested in restoration, conservation and ensuring natural resources and land use practices are sustainable moving forward, in particular the impacts of agriculture on freshwater catchments and how these practices can be mitigated. As a manawhenua representative Aneika has a variety of governance roles on multiple boards. At EcoQuest, Aneika shares responsibility for delivery of the SAFSA program, with an emphasis on Te Ao Māori iwi context and food systems, and indigenous farming practices. She is the point person for several program components and case studies.

Dave Wilson-Howarth

Field Leader

David grew up on the North Wales coast in the UK where he completed his training in hospitality and catering. David worked in a diversity of roles, from commis Chef to hotel management, in places as varied as London’s vibrant hospitality culture and the tourism sector in Abel Tasman National Park in Aotearoa. David and his wife settled in Te Tau Ihu o te Waka a Maui (Top of the South Island), where they started a family and a Sushi Café. After 7 years, they sold the Café. David used his considerable experience in the food industry and in development and delivery of customised training systems, to provide training courses for hospitality outlets in the Nelson-Tasman region. His recent engagements include work as a course facilitator to assist people into employment through skills training and mentoring for the Ministry of Social Development. As a keen gardener, David aims to maximise food and biodiversity as part of his vision to offer green trade, and to be part of increasing the variety of local produce. In his role as field leader for the SAFSA program, David shares the responsibility to ensure the safety, smooth running, and enjoyment of life and learning at EcoQuest. He is responsible for catering and supports pastoral care and operations.