Board of Directors

The Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society is governed by a Board of Directors composed of seven members, including a Chairperson (Vanessa Kilburn), Secretary (Daisy Flamenco), Treasurer (Norma Nuñez), and two Councillors (Dwight Montero and Elliot Handrus). The Board of Directors oversees our Executive Director Mathieu Charette, who steers the Executive Committee composed of the Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, and one Councillor who conduct the day-to-day operations of T.R.E.E.S and the research center it operates.

Vanessa Kilburn, Chairperson

For the past 20 years, Vanessa Kilburn has been active in the field of conservation biology with a focus on herpetology both in North America and in Central America. Throughout her career she has gained extensive experience in field methodology techniques used for fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals (particularly bats). She has lead Endangered species recovery programs in British Columbia and in the Dominican Republic, which included scientific research, inventorying and monitoring, hands-on habitat restoration, and public outreach and education. As a result of these efforts Vanessa has gained experience working with all levels of government, non-government organizations, the private sector, industry, academia, and the general public.

Vanessa holds a B.Sc. Honours in biology from the University of New Brunswick and an M.Sc. in conservation biology from McGill University. Vanessa moved to Belize in 2011 to establish T.R.E.E.S and its research center. She has been working as the T.R.E.E.S Operations and Programs Manager for the past 10 years and is responsible for designing the activities and programs offered at the center and overseeing its operations, teaching ecology workshops to visiting student groups, conducting outreach with neighbouring communities, and conducting her own research on herpetofauna and bats in the Maya Mountains.

Mathieu Charette, Executive Director

Mathieu is a wildlife biologist with over 20 years of experience in the field, both in North America and internationally. Mat His extensive experience has allowed him to acquire expertise on a multitude of species in all animal groups and in various habitat types. He has also worked extensively with the academia, NGOs, numerous government agencies and the private sector on research, conservation, restoration, and development projects. This experience has given him the expertise to assess the needs of different types of stakeholders and communities and to merge them with the requirements of critical habitat and the target species.

He holds a B.Sc. in wildlife biology from McGill University and an M.Sc. in wildlife conservation from the University of New Brunswick. He has over 10 years of experience working as the Operations Manager and Scientific Coordinator at T.R.E.E.S. and is currently the Director at T.R.B.O (Toucan Ridge Bird Observatory) as he maintains his role as Executive Director at T.R.E.E.S.

Elliot Handrus, Councillor

Eliot was born and raised in San Diego, CA. Upon graduating high school he attended SDSU where he received a Bachelors in Zoology. Soon after, he started working as a mammal keeper at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 1985. He received a Master’s Degree at SDSU in biology in 1988. He continued working as a keeper until 2000 when he became the Population Biologist. These duties included managing populations genetically and demographically; both for the San Diego Zoo collections as well as on a world wide or regional basis. This allowed him to participate in re-introduction programs in various parts of the world, and advise others on how to manage populations. After this, he headed to the Fort Worth Zoo as a lead keeper, then to Mountain View in Fort Langley, BC as curator. He left after a year to return to San Diego, where he worked in biotechnology until 2013. He then started his third career as a community college professor teaching biology, environmental science, ecology and conservation biology, which he continues to enjoy. He currently lives in Corozal with his wife.

Dwight Monterro

Dwight Montero was born and raised in the scenic land of the Stann Creek Valley, Steadfast Village. He currently holds the post of Senior Farm Manager at Citrus Product of Belize Limited, and he oversees approximately 3,000 acres of citrus trees. His responsibilities include, but are not limited to the planting, growth, production, and harvest of citrus, and pineapple. Throughout his 33 years working at CPBL, Mr. Dwight Montero has managed to gain experience in Environmental Health and Safety Management, Citrus Peel Compost Management, Fruit Forecasting, Soil and Water Quality Testing, and Maturity Lab Testing. He was also rewarded by the Citrus Industry for being the first person in Belize to detect the Brown Citrus Aphid.

Laura Moore

Laura Moore is a young accountant who believes there are no shortcuts to success. Her interest in accounting began early; she worked as a summer intern doing minor administrative duties while enrolled in high school. While pursuing her tertiary education at the University of Belize, she became an accounting tutor, where her love for the subject area increased. Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Belize and a Master’s in Business Administration from Galen University. She is the Accountant at Xaibel Service station, an Adjunct lecturer at the University of Belize, and the owner of Moore Accounting Solutions. Laura is grateful for all her achievements and is working towards her Doctorate in Accounting and Finance. She holds her role on the board with great pleasure and honor!

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