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ALYSON SKINNER, Executive Director, Ecologist

Alyson is one of the founders of Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society (2012), having worked with the SOS Stewardship Program since 2005 prior to incorporating OSSS as a society. She is a Simon Fraser University graduate with a B.Sc. in Biology, concentration in Ecology. She has 20 years of experience ranging from habitat enhancement, nature interpretation, program and grant management, but her real passion is engaging local communities and residents in hands-on-projects. She currently is on the Executive Committee for the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program and the Steering Committee for the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program and Leadership Team for the Okanagan Wetland Strategy. Alyson also helped to establish and lead the Young Naturalists Club of the South Okanagan in the valley.

Email: alyson [at]

LIA McKINNON, Stewardship Biologist

Lia joined the Stewardship Team in 2014. She has an eclectic background working with everything from native pollinators, to rattlesnakes, to burrowing owls. This a a background that fits in well with the OSSS since we work with a diverse group of species and habitats throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Lia also works with the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society and is a Director on the Board for the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance.

Email: lia [at]


NORA the GOPHERSNAKE, Species Ambassador

Nora is a Sonoran subspecies of Gophersnake and a close cousin to the smaller Great Basin subspecies of Gophersnake found throughout BC. Nora arrived at the OSS office from the Kamloops Wildlife Park in 2019 after she was confiscated from an individual who did not have proper exotic animal permits.

When she is not participating in OSS's SnakeSmart program or attending other OSS presentations to help reduce fear and misunderstandings around snakes, Nora can usually be found basking under her heat lamp, dozing under her favourite piece of bark or eating a freshly thawed rat.


Jennifer Miles, Chair

While originally from Summerland, Jennifer has lived throughout the Okanagan and currently calls Kelowna home. When not enjoying a good OSS weed pull, Jennifer works for the City of Kelowna enforcing environmental protection regulations in relation to new development. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Simon Fraser University and Master’s degree in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary.  One of her fondest undergrad memories is of a field school course she took in Oliver on understanding the complex interactions within the ponderosa pine forests and grasslands between the plants, wildfire, and animals (specifically Lewis’ Woodpecker, a blue listed species). Jennifer shares her home with her husband, Robert, and children Emily and Benjamin. 

Jill Bisaro, Vice Chair

Jill grew up in the West Kootenays and always had an interest in biology and conservation. She pursued a technical diploma in Recreation, Fish and Wildlife at Selkirk College, followed by a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries at the University of Northern BC. In the summer of 2016, Jill worked as a Stewardship Assistant with OSS betweem semesters at university, and then again after graduating from her degree in 2019. During these summers, she fell in love with the biodiversity of the Okanagan Valley as well as the stewardship efforts that are being undertaken by OSS.  After completing a research position with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Jill has now settled in Vernon

Margaret Holm, Secretary
Margaret Holm has twenty-five year experience working on conservation outreach and education in the Okanagan. She lead agricultural extension and EcoStudies programs for the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance, and has managed outreach and communication for the Community Bat Program, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, and the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre. Writing and editing projects included the South Okanagan Wildlife Habitat Atlas, biodiversity conservation documents, and numerous “working in nature” best management documents. She now devotes time to community climate action and citizen engagement.

Melanie Piorecky, Treasurer

Related to conservation and ecology, Melanie is happy to wear her vegetation ecologist hat, and applying that to restoration planning. She is passionate about working towards shared multiple land uses. Through collaboration she works to understand what those uses are, then figure out out best way to support them. This has been possible through her work as an environmental consultant, which began in 2000. Prior to that she worked for the Ministry of Forests as a rangeland manger in the Bulkley-Cassiar. Through her consulting and volunteer work she has specialized in vegetation ecology, botany for rare plant surveys, soil science, agricultural land use, reclamation and restoration planning, beneficial use of organics and climate change implications to project planning. Her consulting work is driven by regulatory requirements, but Melanie capitalizes on opportunities to collaborate between groups for the benefit of all land users, including wildlife!


Eva Durance, Director

Eva grew up in Southwestern Ontario in a family involved in farming and with a strong interest in the natural world.  She studied English Language and Literature at University of Toronto, Western University), University of Virginia and Dalhousie, including advanced graduate studies.  She taught at Carleton University and University of Ottawa before becoming for ten years the Editor for an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture research publication.

Since relocating to the Penticton area in 1990, Eva has been involved as a contractor and a volunteer in a wide variety of environmental, naturalist, agricultural, and community and projects..  Now retired, she volunteers as Caretaker for the Vaseux Lake Important Bird & Biodiversity Area, as a member of the TAC for the Okanagan Conservation Fund, on the BC Nature’s Conservation Committee and for the Burrowing Owl Society of BC  and the South Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society since the last was formed. 

Past Directors

Amanda Millar, Director

Dianne Bersea, Chair

Natasha Lukey, Treasurer

Susan Latimer, Secretary

Patrick Ling-Allen, Treasurer

Sara Ashpole, Chair, Co-Founder

Anthea Bryan, Vice-Chair, Co-Founder

Carolina Restrepo-Tamayo, Treasurer, Co-Founder

Mellhina Thibault, Secretary, Co-Founder

Hilary Sampson, Director, Co-Founder

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